20 April 2010
The freedom, power and sense of independence is what drew me into wanting my first car. Until I could drive legally, I drove anything I could get my hands on: BMX bikes, ride-on lawnmowers, tractors in the Maine woods. If it had wheels, I wanted in – wicked in. I got my hands on a borrowed moped and didn’t want to give it back. I couldn’t afford my own at the time. A radio-controlled Hornet dune buggy had to tide me over until the very second I was 16.5 years old, the legal driving age at the time. And, of course, there was Pole Position II.
Despite the $500 price tag, my first car was almost prohibitively expensive, with the insurance and gas (no luck getting gas money from my equally destitute friends) tipping those proverbial scales. The car broke down every other month and for a time, I had to use a shoelace from my track shoes to operate the windshield wipers. I loved that car, right up until the day a friend borrowed it totaled it in the same afternoon.
I was carless for months following and used TV to get my fix. Car shows and racing events are what kept me going. I developed a deep lust for racing, for that was the ultimate freedom. Not only were you driving your own car, but you were seemingly breaking every known law in the process. Racing too, was expensive and out of reach for a dude with a high school education, and back then, no desire to go to college. Against my better judgment though, I went to college and graduated with thousands worth of student loans. I couldn’t even dream of getting into racing.
But that’s where the Gran Turismo series saved me. Pick any car, pick the most exotic track you could find and all of a sudden you could blast through time and space in a suped-up rig that you paid for with game dollars. GT-40s, Mitsu Lancers, Lancia Integrales. Could life be any better?
As time went on, my salary rose slightly, situations changed and I found myself on course to buy a car and build it into a race car. A rally car in fact. But I go back to my racing video game setup and I actually use it for cheap practice sessions. I try not to bump into anybody (an accident in a game costs thousands in real life, no matter how light the hit). I practice threshold braking, left-foot braking, clipping apexes and executing Scandinavian Flicks. I turn the music off and the sound effects up. I want to hear my engine bouncing off the rev limiter so I know when to shift.
When I cross the line in a video game race, the adrenaline levels almost match that of being in a real car. Almost.
By Kristian Gove