Stepping Up Your Race Game – Seating Position and Wheel Handling for Beginners

What is the optimal seating position for virtual racing? If you have a gamepad, your average couch or whatever seat you are most comfortable with should be good to go. But what if you have stepped up to using a gaming wheel? An optimal seating position is essential if you have a gaming wheel to get the best possible control and comfort especially on long racing sessions.


(Gaming wheel mounted on a desktop table. Taken at a local mall event before the pandemic)


Preparation for the optimal driving position


Regardless if you have a sim cockpit or a desk table, you will want to remember to do three things upon sitting in the cockpit in preparing for the optimal driving position.


- Put wrists on top of steering wheel and see to it you have a slight bend at elbows

- Slight bend at knees with pedals fully depressed

- Seat Back upright


These three steps are useful in getting the optimal driving position especially when participating at on-site events where the seats are frequently adjusted by other participants. You will also want to get used to placing your hands on the 9 ‘o clock and 3 o’ clock position (left and right spoke) when holding the wheel. While other hand positions like the “10 and 2” is ok for slower paced city or highway driving games, the 9 and 3 position allows for better control at higher speeds. Another benefit of this hand position is how the wheel is not subjected to excessive downward pressure which could break the clamps if the wheel is not hard mounted using screws, a common case for those who only have regular desktop tables.


Gaming wheel without a sim rig/cockpit Most of those who get a gaming wheel often do not get a sim cockpit immediately right away, either because they do not have the budget yet or simply because they would like to start slowly before upgrading. One would have either a desktop table or an average home table as options. In either case, there are two things to remember if you plan to do virtual racing on a wheel without a sim rig.


The first and most important thing is how the pedals are positioned on the surface. Just like in a real car, the pedals are positioned behind the wheel in such a position where your knees are slightly bent. You would not want to put your pedals directly under where your gaming wheel is mounted as it would strain your legs and feet. Think of a right 90° triangle where the wheel is at the top and the pedals are most desktop tables, particularly those designed for gaming


(Figure 1 – A Wheel and Pedal on a right triangle illustration)


or office work, have ample space under the table where your legs would be positioned. As it is more common to position these desks next to a wall, you can have your pedals placed closer towards the wall. You would also want to have a carpet on the floor to keep your seat as well as your pedals gripping the surface. Some pedal sets have rubber grips or carpet grippers included for this purpose.



(Andika Rama Maulana’s first sim setup)


The second point is where your wheel is mounted on the table. While it is easier to mount gaming wheels and pedals on desktop/gaming tables, it may be a little more challenging if you have only an average home table which is a common case for those who have consoles on a living room setup. If this is the case. you would want to aim on having the wheel rim aligned on chest level as much as possible. If there is no suitable table at home, gaming wheel stands can be bought or fabricated for around $100 USD or less depending on the materials used. In general you don’t want to have your wheel too high or too low from chest level, and likewise your pedals being too far or too close relative to your seating.


Gaming wheel on a sim rig/cockpit

A dedicated sim rig/cockpit is a big step up coming from a standard table setup. Most pre-built cockpit packages are already designed with the optimal driving position in mind, and it is up to you to make the last few adjustments depending on height and viewing preference. These cockpits also provide holes on the wheel and pedal platforms for hard mounting.


Not all may choose to go for pre-built cockpits mostly due to budget constraints. You may opt to go for D.I.Y blueprints to suit your budget, room space, body and other personal preferences. Should you choose to go to make your own rig, the same driving position principles must be applied especially with how the wheel and pedals are mounted in relation to the seat.


In addition, you will want to bear in mind to try and make the pedal base angled up to around 45° similar to pre-built cockpits. This inclination of the pedals will allow for better modulation on the throttle and brakes.


First time on a wheel?


Chances are you may have discovered virtual racing with a wheel at a convention show or a friend’s home. If it’s your first time to do race on a gaming wheel and pedal sets, here are a few tips to remember to make your first sim racing experience a fruitful one. 1. Keep your hands on the 9 and 3 position – As mentioned earlier in this article, this driving position provides the best control when driving any car.


2. Minimize steering inputs – Unless you are city driving or tackling a hairpin, it doesn’t take a lot of steering rotation to get the car turning. Try to keep your steering rotation no more than 90° left or right. When learning a track for the first time, don’t be afraid to brake early before a corner you are not yet familiar with.


3. Avoid violent movements – Particularly in more simulation oriented racing games, excessive movements on the steering wheel will unsettle the balance of most cars. Make small and progressive changes in direction to keep the car stable.


Above all, make sure you are comfortable with your seating position as you drive. When going out on the track for the first lap, start slow and take it easy while making sure you are ok with your driving position. If you can last around 1 hour and 15 minutes of continuous driving without feeling tired on your body, then you have your optimal driving position.


Regardless of how your cockpit is set up, be it on a simple desktop or a dedicated sim rig, the optimal driving position will not only help you be consistent on lap times, but also have loads of fun.


-Luis Moreno-

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