Throughout your season, you will race at all of the real world tracks currently in the series you choose. In the Craftsman Truck series, you will also race at a couple of ‘fantasy’ tracks, one of which is built into a football stadium. The tracks are very realistically modeled. If you’ve had the good fortune to actually attend a NASCAR race, you will see all of the landmarks that make each track unique. Even if you’ve only ever seen a race on TV, the tracks will look very familiar to you. The detail is simply incredible, all they way down to the bumps in the track where it crosses over access tunnels. The scoring towers, billboards, grandstands, lights, infield sponsors logos painted on the grass - it’s all there. The sky itself is even rendered to a very believable degree. I remember coming out of turn 2 at Homestead and seeing building thunderstorm clouds in the distance. A couple of laps later, I actually saw lightning! I was in the lead at the time, and more than halfway through the race, so I was hoping that it would rain and end the race. It wasn’t to be, however, as the distraction of looking at the pretty sky was more than my limited driving abilities could compensate for and I ended up hitting the wall.
The detailed graphics apparent in the track modeling are also applied to the cars themselves. The cockpits are detailed enough that you can monitor vital measurements such as water temperature from the dashboard gauge. The other cars are easily identifiable by their sponsors, although you will have to adjust to the family-friendly re-painting of the beer/cigarette sponsored cars. Once you get into the real action, though, this becomes a lot less jarring. The car’s graphics are also dynamic in that they change through the race. For example, at the start of the race the cars will still have manufacturers stickers on the tires. After a lap or two those will wear off. Once you’ve completed a few laps behind another car, you will start to see oil and grime appear on your windshield. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that if you have a dirty windshield and are facing into the late afternoon sun, you will start to find it difficult to clearly see the cars in front of you because of the sun’s glare. I do know for a fact that ambient lighting is accurately modeled – the dashboard gauges get harder to see when you’re in shadow or at night.
The detail level of the graphics is highly configurable to allow good frame rates for slower computers, or incredible levels of detail for more powerful machines. The driver’s position in the car is also configurable, allowing you to move closer to or further away from the steering wheel. Some may prefer a very wide angle of view to help them in seeing the traffic while others may like a more restricted view that allows a closer look at the track. It’s a very easy setting to experiment with until you find what you like. I’ve found that the default 75% is a great compromise. SimRacing’s setting is not quite as easy to use as a similar feature found in another racing sim that allows adjustment to the view aspect by using the mouse, but it’s still a very good feature.
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