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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Your Offseason Racing Fix

Only two months to St. Petersburg!

That's right, we are two months away from the end of the IZOD IndyCar Series' marathon offseason and the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 2011 will prove to be an interesting season, with rules changes and new races galore, even as we put up with one more year of lame-duck and outdated Dallaras.

Now, if you're like me, that's a heck of a long time to wait. Unfortunately, IndyCar isn't at the point where it can add too many more races, and to space them out too much creates lulling gaps in the middle of the season. And it's not like too many racing series really run in these winter months.

That being said, if you're dying for a racing fix, there are plenty of things you can do.

Touring Car Highlights: SPEED carries a metric ton of NASCAR coverage during that sport's ten-month season, but the offseason presents plenty of broadcast time for the other series. One can frequently catch a block of touring car highlights from the British Touring Car Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, and the FIA World Touring Car Championship. The three-hour block of highlights will next be shown on 1/17 from 12 to 3 PM EDT.

Formula 1 Re-airings: SPEED also takes care of these, generally showing them at 12 PM EDT on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This week's events will be the European (1/18) and British (1/19) Grands Prix.

Rolex 24 at Daytona: The opening event of the Grand-Am season always features a handful of non-championship drivers brought in to compensate for the extra length of the event. Drivers with IndyCar ties are pretty common. Look for a handy viewer's guide later today.

Console Video Games: Codemasters' latest Xbox 360 racing game, F1 2010, follows a long tradition of excellent productions, from the TOCA Race Driver series to the edgy GRID. Drive the entire 2010 Formula 1 season, working your way up through the sport in a deep career mode, and experience the best console driving game in recent memory. There's no modern IndyCar game out right now (though Indianapolis 500: Evolution is a nice alternative if you want to drive any Indy 500 competitor's car from 1961 to 1971), so F1 2010 is the top alternative for the open-wheel driver. NASCAR 2011: The Game should also be out in the coming months.

iRacing: Saving the best for last! This is an expensive option, but for those who can't be satisfied with simply watching racing in the offseason, and those who want to drive the Dallara IndyCar, iRacing is it. They've set up discounts to bring in new users, a decent wheel can be had for about $100, and nothing is a better simulator - drivers have used it for years now to learn the feel of tracks they've never driven. And if you're still not convinced, and haven't read my profile on the company, by all means, go here and read it. I think I can change your mind.

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