Behold the evolution of sim racing

Donut Media has put together a sublime tour of sim racing through the ages, beginning with 1983’s “Chequered Flag” and strutting right up to this year’s “Project Cars 2.” It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but the 6-minute clip is a good way to remind you of just how far we’ve come in a little over three decades. It also points out the advances made by each of the featured games along the way.

This video is a great ride down nostalgia lane, with scenes from early on in the “Gran Turismo” and “Forza” franchises reminding us just how many hours we spent turning laps in the digital world. 

Racing simulations have evolved from quaint curiosities to necessary tools, helping amateurs and pros learn unfamiliar tracks well in advance of ever turning a tire here in reality. With razor-sharp physics engines, real-time weather and lighting changes, tire degradation, and painstaking re-creations of the popular tracks the world over, modern racing sims are more than video games.

That’s something most professional race teams know all too well, as drivers at the top tiers of motorsport spend hours in high-dollar simulators practicing at a fraction of the cost of rolling out an F1 or NASCAR machine. Likewise, Nissan and Polyphony have worked hard to stress the correlation between screen time and seat time with the GT Academy, a competition that transitions the fastest Gran Turismo players into professional motorsport. 

We’ve come a long way from eight-bit.

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