Simulator puts fans in action
FOR most of us, it will be about as close as you could hope to get to driving a real top fuel drag racer.
Willowbank Winternationals fans will have the privilege of being the first in the world to road test the new top fuel simulator.
Despite utilising some ultra-expensive equipment, the simulator relies on a couple of cables plugged into the back-up car of top-flight driver Darren Morgan, allowing petrol heads of all skill levels to do the quarter mile in an insanely fast time.
The technology is so new that even the owner of the car, Mr Morgan, has not had the chance to try it out yet.
“I think the best thing about it is that this is a real drag racer – we could unplug all this and take it straight out onto the track,” he said.
“In fact the engine in this car won the Nitro Champs last year and can do the quarter mile in 4.5 seconds.”
Three flat screen televisions – positioned end to end in front of the cockpit – provide a panoramic and very realistic view of the virtual drag strip.
A set of speakers directly behind the driver's head provide that deep growl that the top fuel dragsters are famous for.
The system is set up so that the accelerator pedal, steering wheel and hand-operated brake of the dragster respond as closely as possible to a real-life situation.
Those hoping for an easy ride should bear in mind that plonking your foot down to the floor straight from the green light will result in the virtual death not only of the driver but also of several hundred virtual spectators and race officials.
Steve Teear, a representative from the company that created the simulator, said a carefully limited number of people would be allowed to try the simulator free of charge this weekend.
“It's an amazing piece of technology – the first of its kind in the world,” he said.
There was no shortage of real action out on the track as the Winternationals got off to a beautiful, sunny start with qualifying rounds yesterday.
Despite the forecasted rain, competitors and spectators alike will be hoping the fine weather continues, with the ANDRA Pro Series qualifying races begin at noon today and continue through to Sunday.
Finals will be held on the Queen's Birthday holiday on Monday.
Today: On-track action from 8.00am, ANDRA Pro Series Qualifying from 12.00pm to approximately 5.30pm
Tomorrow: On-track action from 8.30am, ANDRA Pro Series Qualifying from 12 noon to approximately 5.30pm
Monday: On-track action from 8.30am, Opening Ceremonies from 10.30am, ANDRA Pro Series racing at 11.00am, 1.15pm and all finals from 2.45pm