Wheel Petrolhead survival guide!

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WORDS CAMERON KIRBY, TRENT GIUNCO & TONY O’KANE

GLOBAL PANDEMICS REALLY CAN PUT THE BRAKES ON THINGS MOTORING ENTHUSIASTS LOVE. BUT BEING STUCK IN ISOLATION DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE PASSION KILLER. JUST FOLLOW SOME FRIENDLY ADVICE…

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FACT, FICTION OR FAST ’N’ FURIOUS, FROM A COUCH NEAR YOU

UPPITY

Never heard of Willy T. Ribbs? This Netflix doco examines the race driver largely (and unjustly) forgotten by the motorsport world. Ribbs faced a massive racial struggle to gain acceptance in the US, but emerged as one of America’s most exciting racing talents of the ’70s. Features interviews with Bernie Ecclestone, Dan Gurney, Paul Newman, Bobby Unser and Al Unser Jr, to name a few.

CLASSIC GRANDS PRIX

If your motorsport itch needs scratching, and the virtual stuff isn’t hitting it, then Formula 1 has what you need. Each week the series is uploading classic Grands Prix to its YouTube in full, and free . We highly recommend wet-weather thrillers like Great Britain 2008, Monaco 1996, and Europe 1999 for their action-packed on-track antics. Oh, and turn your speakers up to really hear those V8s and V10s scream.

DRIVE

This neo-noir crime thriller on Netflix can be enjoyed even with non-gearhead adults. A wonderful ’73 Chevelle Malibu gets plenty of screen time, while car chase aficionados will enjoy the ’06 Chrysler 300C and ’11 Ford Mustang GT battle. Other gems include a ’71 Ford Galaxie 500, ’69 Plymouth Road Runner, ’68 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado, ’67 Pontiac GTO, and ’55 Ford Thunderbird 40A.

BUILD

If you’re a motoring enthusiast, Lego, scale models and radio-controlled cars (RC) are a great way to kill boredom. How seriously you take it or how hooked you become is between you and your wallet. You can spend anything from a few dollars to a few thousand in search of small-scale kicks. Buy ready-made items, or disappear into a weekend’s worth of gluing and screwing things together, with more genres than you can shake a Lego brick at.

LEGO

Lego isn’t just for small kids; big kids can get in on the action, too. With prices ranging from $15.99 for a Buggy to $600 for the Bugatti Chiron (left), the Technic range provides carmaking thrills at all skill levels and price points. For its 1:8 scale 3599-piece Chiron kit, Lego has mirrored the construction process of the real car – it even has a top-speed key, serial number and a detailed cabin, and the quad-turbo W16 engine has moving pistons.

SCALE MODELS

Models represent a chance to own a dream car – just on a smaller scale. Build them yourself, or buy them completed. Popular brands include Spark, AUTOart, Biante, Minichamps, Tomica and Tamiya. Respected for quality, Tamiya offers a range of build-your-own models like the iconic Porsche Carrera GT – a 1:12 scale version of the 5.7-litre V10 supercar (left). It even comes with a wrench for attaching and removing the wheels.

RADIO CONTROL

There’s a plethora of ready-made and build-your-own RC cars on the market from brands like Traxxas, Kyosho and Losi, to name a few heavy hitters. Eighties nostalgia is gripping the market, with venerable brand Tamiya being one of the leading forces. Its popular 1/10 Terra Scorcher (left) is a re-issue of the 1988 original, and features four-wheel independent double wishbone suspension with CVA oil dampers to help tackle any off-road course.

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How to build a racing sim

CRASH HARD, AVOID CONCUSSION

KEEN TO MAKE a start in the world of simulated motorsport? The array of gear out there is mind-boggling at all ends of the price spectrum, but we’ve distilled it down to help you make an informed choice. Regardless of whether your pockets are stuffed with cash or filled with lint, here’s the gear you’ll need to start smoking electronic rubber.

WHAT TO PLAY?

Supercars, TCR and NASCAR all run their virtual races on iRacing, a full-fidelity motorsport simulator with a Himalayan learning curve. Not only is it coded to be as realistic as possible, it’s a regulated, subscription-based service, so you’ll only ever be playing against other die-hard racers. For a solo experience, Project Cars 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione are other high-def racing sims that are worth your time and money – and both crucially contain Mount Panorama in their track rosters.

AFFORDABLE

Sticking to a gaming console eliminates much of the cost and complexity of a PC-based set-up, and the Xbox One S has a commendable spread of driving sims to choose from. Pair it with a Logitech G920 forcefeedback wheel and pedal set, and a wheel stand to bolt it to. Sit on your couch, plug it all into your TV and presto – you’re sim racing for minimal dosh! Xbox One S $379; Logitech G920 $499; Next Level Racing Wheel Stand Lite $199. TOTAL: $1077

HIGH-END

The more money you spend, the more realistic virtual racing becomes. Case in point: the Simworx SX02Msport Predator. Sure, it costs as much as a Toyota Corolla, but it comes with everything you need to get sim racing – screens, a beast PC, wheel, seat… the lot. With VR and motion platform options, the only way it could get more real is if you set up an incense burner nearby with Brembo fragrance. In case you were wondering, this is exactly what the professionals use (the set-up; not the incense).

Simworx SX02Msport Predator $25,900