While the NASCAR cup series was on hold, Cat Racing’s Tyler Reddick stayed sharp with is first experience in eNASCAR as part of the iRacing Pro Invitational Series. “With iRacing, you have your visual cues, what you see in front of you and what you see the cars doing across bumps on the racetrack and feedback in the steering wheel,” said Reddick. “So, it really limits and narrows down your senses… what helps me get around the racetrack in real life.”
Eye On The Future
And while some gamers might see eNASCAR as getting a head start on a career on the track, many others are also looking to dig in the dirt. Caterpillar sees more and more schools - trade schools, technical colleges and universities, small number of high schools - purchasing simulators. They forsee many of the world’s future heavy equipment operators will likely come from a generation of gamers who grew up with complex controls.
“Those kids tend to gravitate towards the simulator and they get it,” said Troy Bombardier, a trainer with Cat Simulators. “ It’s like that light bulb going off, it’s not like a major accomplishment with them cause they just know they can do it and after a few minutes they’ve figured out what does what. Society seems to have changed a little bit… to where they adapt to this sort of hand eye coordination much quicker than we did 20 or more years ago.”
With many things on hold due to the health crisis, Caterpillar has been adjusting how they deliver that training, with instructors doing virtual training as their access to customer locations has been restricted.
“I’m doing an hour session, twice a week, Bombardier said. “ We’re basically inviting our existing and potential customers who have questions on how to get through an exercise, how to navigate through the simulator… covering a lot of aspects to still reach out to our customers with some form of training and education and the response has been way more than we expected.”
A Different Perspective
Switching gears was a big part of Cat Racing’s year so far. During Reddick’s stint in iRacing, he got plenty of support from Joey Stone, who drives for Richard Childress Racing in the eNASCAR Heat Pro League within the Playstation 4 platform. Stone filled in at times for spotter Derek Kneeland and was able to share his expertise.
“I think there was one time in particular at Richmond, Tyler wasn’t doing as well as he wanted with his qualifying laps,” Stone said. “ told him, ride the wall on three and four, arc that corner, get a lot of speed and if you burn those tires enough, you’re gonna get a good lap. And I think he went from 27th on the speed chart from 11th that quick.”
“It’s just way different,” Reddick said. “I feel like what I learned from iRacing is going to play a big part in how I perform on the short tracks going back. It made me work on parts of my driving craft that I don’t normally focus a whole lot on.”