My 53 Second Lap of Lime Rock Park

By | June 19, 2012

CXC Simulator

The grand opening of Americas car museum has come and gone and while the noisy crowds have thinned, hundreds of people are still discovering the jewel that the museum is every day.  For nearly five hours I manned one of the three CXC racing simulators that occupy a corner of the speed zone in the museum.

After the dust settled from the grand opening, all of us volunteers that helped out over the opening weekend were invited back for pizza and hot laps around Lime Rock Park.  I’m here to tell you that CXC simulators are seriously legit.  With price tags starting at $45,000 a pop, they better be.  While I could never hope to have the cash to throw around to personally own the simulator, I’m sure that I’ll find myself at the museum often to fulfill my need for speed.

As you slide into the heavily bolstered racing seat of the simulator, an attendant briefly describes how the simulator works.  What they are really saying is don’t break this piece of equipment because it’s worth 15 times more than that hand-me-down Accord you came here in.  You don’t have much use for what they are telling you though, you’re much more attentive to the three point harness that sucks you into the seat and making sure that the steering wheel and pedals are in a comfortable position – it’s game time.

Formula 1 CXC

The seat you’re sitting in is equipped with surround sound, hydraulics, and a number of other goodies that contribute to what can only be described as a realistic experience.  I’m not sure what the car was that I’d been placed in but as you start the engine of the car everything comes to life.  The loud rumble of what is probably a high strung V8 fills your ears and you can literally feel its vibrations as the seat vibrates beneath you.  I didn’t know what type of car I was driving other than it was probably a Le Mans prototype of some kind, but I did know that I was at Lime Rock Park, a very short and fast track in Connecticut.

Grabbing the right paddle shifter I blipped into first gear and eased onto the track.  The first obstacle as you come out of the pits at Lime Rock is a large sweeping turn call Big Bend.  By the time I’d timidly gone around the first bend I’d gotten used the disorienting yet realistic experience conveyed by the three massive panoramic screens.  With only six minutes to spend on the track I quickly began to put the car through its paces.  Give the car too much gas around a corner and you’ll quickly find the back end coming loose.  Wait too long to shed speed coming into Big Bend from the main straight and you’ll find yourself in the dirt and headed for the wall.

Having watched several gents fairly timidly lap the track I made to make my laps hot ones.  Once I was into the second lap I was attacking the apexes and screaming though all six gears on the straight.  Corners feel like corners in the CXC simulators, the steering wheel fights back as the car finds under or oversteer, and if you hit the brakes hard enough you absolutely feel yourself being thrown into the harness.

CXC at Daytona

After my six minutes on the track I had become quite confident in my ability to keep the car in check and had lapped Lime Rock Park in 53 seconds – not too shabby.  I must say that rapidly down shifting from 6th to 1st and feeling yourself pressed into the racing harness is an extremely exhilarating experience.

While being strapped into a CXC simulator isn’t exactly the real thing it feels pretty close to what I’d imagine it would.  After six minutes on one I had an elevated heart rate and my hands almost felt cramped from flogging the car around the track.  Is it worth $45,000?  Maybe not.  Is it worth $8 for six minutes?  Oh yes – there goes my lunch money.

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