Sim Racing is quite an addictive hobby, and is extremely open ended. What can start as casually playing Gran Turismo on a couch can lead to plunking down thousands of dollars on a top-tier setup to play titles such as iRacing or Assetto Corsa. While “casual sims” can be quite accessible for all comers, once you make your way to the higher fidelity PC racing titles, sim racing can be quite a daunting hobby to get involved in. Enter the Pretend Race Cars Team, and their new e-book “Black Flag: A Crash Course in Sim Racing“.
For those of you who don’t know, Pretend Race Cars was a sim racing website started in January of 2015. Their claim to fame is that they are “The WORST website you could possibly visit for Sim Racing news”. Featuring astronomical levels of sarcasm, condescension, and antagonism, the team led by Austin Ogonoski is no stranger to ruffling a few feathers.
However, the review is not on their controversial website, it is on their new e-book. I was able to talk to Austin, and he gave me a copy of the e-book, and free reign to “Tear it apart however I liked”.
Black Flag is available as a PDF file on Sellfy, for $6.99. The book itself is a fairly easy read, tipping the scales at 70 pages and 12.6 megabytes. The initial release was at 69 pages (which I am suspecting was TOTALLY not intended by the Pretend Race Cars team 😉 ), but a revised version of the e-book was released, featuring a Foreward written by race car driver Kelvin van der Linde. I went through the book front to back in the space of around 35 minutes, but your mileage may vary.
Going through Black Flag, I was bracing myself for Pretend Race Cars’ over-the-top snark, sarcasm, and overarching crass nature. However, I was almost shocked at how well-written the book actually was! The book is definitely tame by PRC standards, with around 10 swear words in the entire document. Note that there is a section called “Driving Like A Dick”, and in that section, you can clearly tell it’s a PRC book.
Black Flag is broken down into 9 different sections, each tackling a different element of the hobby. The goal of the book is to get you through all the steps you need to dive into the world of Sim Racing, from purchasing your first setup, to picking out a sim, to learning to drive, then race, then win. Everything is very straightforward and accessible to users.
One thing I would have personally liked to see is something that can be taken advantage of in e-books: Links. One great part about e-books is that, if you are reading on a computer or phone/tablet, you can actually inject links into the book. For the hardware chapter, that would have really come in handy. Instead of just saying “Pick this wheel”, a link to said wheel could be a great asset to a potential sim racer.
From an editor’s standpoint, this book is mostly solid. I did notice a few typos. Some of them can actually be quite confusing, and detract somewhat from the book. Hopefully, they will be fixed in a later release in the future.
While this may not be appealing to the hardcore racer with some decent seat time under his/her belt, this could be seen as a great “Beginner’s Guide” to anyone interested in this hobby.