Dirt track racers keep their edge through iRacing

To some, there’s no better sound than the roar of a race car engine.

“You just get that itch and you’re like ‘man I want to go out and race something’,” said Midwest Modifieds racer & Springfield native Kyle Bates.

These days, the only place you’ll hear that sound is in the garage or from the TV speakers.

“It’s as real as you can get without actually sitting in the car,” Bates said.

With real racing put on hold, some drivers like Bates shave found an alternative.

“The guys that we’d race on a Friday and Saturday night, we get on here and we race each other and it’s still a fun time,” Bates said.

For Bates, iRacing brings the cockpit of his car right into the living room.

“[The iRacing] I think is actually a little harder because you don’t have the feel for it that you would sitting in the car,” Bates said.

Other drivers have tried it and seem to agree.

“In my opinion it’s harder than actually racing. It is so hard to keep the car going straight on a computer,” said Lebanon-based racer Kris Jackson.

Jackson is two-time defending USRA B-Mod national champion. He’s been racing most of his life.

“For 21 years, this time of the year man it was go time. We went out somewhere and went racing,” Jackson said.

But now, the best bet is iRacing.

It’s online tracks are based on real locations around the country, although none from the Ozarks yet.

Drivers can customize their cars and race their friends

“It just makes it a whole lot of fun even if we can’t be out there doing the real thing,” Bates said.

There’s also another benefit.

“You can go out here on this simulator and hit the wall and you don’t have to worry about spending money to fix everything you just tore up,” Bates said.

“Yeah, that reset button will spoil you,” Jackson added. “I’m for sure about that.”

While iRacing is cheaper and less risky, these drivers still prefer a real night at the track.

“It’s just not the same as walking around, talking to everybody, dirt hitting you in the face all the time, it’s just not the same,” Bates said.

But in the meantime, it’s better than no racing at all.

“I wish I had that simulator,” Jackson said. “If [no-racing] goes on much longer, I might have to get one.”

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