I wanted to build off a previous post that some may remember. Previously, I covered the starting equipment needed to begin a sim racing journey. That post, listed here, really drove that the wheel and pedals should be the focus of starting equipment. This post covers Racing Gloves, Shoes, and Button Boxes and if these could help you find time on the track. Spoiler alert, some of them can!
Racing gloves can be seen as a pretentious difference between a casual racer and a racer on a mission to reach pro status. Surprisingly, gloves serve very practical purposes, and they can result in better lap times. During long sessions, your hands can sweat, making the wheel slick, and allowing mistakes. Furthermore, long sessions can take a toll on your hands and even damage the wheel. Both situations can distract racers, again leading to mistakes. So, it turns out that it’s not so pretentious to wear gloves during races!
So, what gloves are even good? This really comes down to personal preference and budget. Aside from a pair of gardening gloves, you can’t go wrong with which pair you go. If you are looking for a more immersive feel, you can take a look at motorsport racing gloves that are SFI-rated. The most important thing to note about picking a pair of gloves is that they should fit snuggly, not be bulky, and be machine washable. Trust me, you will want to wash them after a few races! Personally, I use a pair of K1 Flex gloves, but these are a bit overkill for sim racing. You can certainly find cheaper ones on Amazon, such as these (not a sponsor). The interesting thing is that this small change can find you lap time, but it isn’t as drastic as what is up next. Of the Racing Gloves, Shoes, and Button Boxes discussed, the button box helped me the most.
This section will cover button boxes and why they are important. If there was one accessory to focus on after getting your wheel and pedals, it would be a button box. A button box is a group of buttons, like a controller, with programmable buttons. A good button box includes one or more rotary encoders. A rotary encoder is a spinning dial that lets you increase and decrease values by turning the dial. The reason these are important is that they can provide easy in-car adjustments such as brake bias, traction control, ABS, and fuel mixture. These buttons can also be used for pit menu traversal, allowing for strategy execution. The ability to make in-car adjustments allows you to adapt and overcome ever-changing track conditions. You can get a button box from a variety of places, including amazon. Make sure you mount your button box well within reach and in a sturdy position. A last bit of advice, label your buttons!
Last up for today’s discussion is racing shoes! While I haven’t experienced a huge decrease in lap time, I have saved many pairs of socks. For those who race with large metal pedals, the metal doesn’t really feel nice on the feet. While some can get used to it, I could not. As I started to race more and harder, I started to get more and more holes in my socks from the metal edges of my pedals. That’s when I bought a cheap pair of motorsport shoes. The most important thing I learned about shoes is that they need to be thin. It makes the transition from socks to shoes a bit easier. In reality, I can race with or without shoes, but remember that focus is impacted by comfortability.