WR1 Sim Chassis: Next-Level Simulation Comes to JRM

Ron Lemasters | 4/29/2021

eNASCAR iRacing Michael Conti News WR1 Sim Chassis

JRM eNASCAR driver Michael Conti is making the transition to a WR1 Sim Chassis rig for this season, making his iRacing experience that much more realistic.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 29, 2021) – The advances in gaming tech are coming fast and furious these days, and JR Motorsports eNASCAR driver Michael Conti is keeping up with the times.

The 22-year-old New Jersey native is breaking in a new sim rig from WR1 Sim Chassis, his sponsor for JRM’s No. 8 machine in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, and the differences are quite noticeable.

“With Chad (WR1’s Chad Wheeler) signing on last year, Dale (team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.), Chad and I always talked about getting me in a WR1 rig and upgrading some equipment to see how it could affect my performance,” Conti said of his recent switch. “Obviously, we weren’t thinking about any of this improving speed or performance, but as for comfort and overall immersion, we would see how it would be different versus what I had been racing.”

What he had been racing had worked for him, obviously. The young driver was the 2014 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series title with his previous equipment. The new WR1 Sim Chassis would be a big step up in class.

“This is quite the change of pace for me,” he said. “I ran the same equipment, pretty much, for the last eight years. Logitech wheel and pedals, Logitech shifter. I was very comfortable with it, won a championship (2014) with it...I really felt I had maximized what I was using.”

Enter Wheeler and WR1. Based in Muskogee, Okla., WR1 Sim Chassis is a subsidiary of Wheeler Metals and is one of the premiere providers of affordable, custom-built racing frame rigs for the burgeoning iRacing and esports industry. Among its enthusiastic customers are Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson, NHRA racers J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon, NASCAR drivers Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, musician Vince Neil of Motley Crue fame, and NFL player Bernard Pollard. The Dale Jr. Foundation has its own WR1 equipment as well.

When asked why a racer should use WR1 racing simulators, the short answer is that your competition on the track is likely already doing so. Unlike many sports where athletes practice far more than they compete, regular in-car practice is incredibly cost-prohibitive. WR1’s highly customizable racing simulators bring down the cost of in-seat training exponentially while delivering some of the most realistic racing experiences possible—all in a rig that fits in an office or spare bedroom.

“Luckily, Chad had a rig over the offseason that he no longer had a use for...a couple of people had used and had tested in it,” Conti said. “He was nice enough to send it my way, with triple-monitor support, which was very important to me. We got that set up a couple months back.

“In conjunction with that, Virtual Racing School got me one of their Direct Force Pro direct-drive wheels, so we now have that added to it along with my Fanatec pedals and the Fanatec shifter. It’s a completely new setup, new equipment, new seating, new everything. For 2021, nothing I’ve had in the past is on this rig. It’s been a challenge to get used to it, but a couple of races in, I’m really feeling good about what I’ve got.”

When Conti won the opening race of the 2021 eNCCiRS at the virtual Daytona International Speedway, it was with his old equipment, switching a couple of races later to the new sim chassis.

The reason he waited was two-fold. First, it was a big race and Conti had a chance to lock himself into the playoffs for a chance at big prize money. Second, it’s tough to let go of what you know.

“A big chunk of my eNCCiRS career was on that (old) rig,” he said. “I was hesitant to make the change. Chad and Dale were too. They kept saying, ‘if you think this is going to slow you down, keep using what you have and don’t worry about running a WR1 rig.’ My answer to that was, ‘well, Chad, you are on the car, I’m promoting your stuff, I cannot promote it properly if I’m not using it. If you can get me some stuff over the offseason, I promise you I will make it work.’ A month or two into it...performance is just as a good.”

So what’s the difference?

“It is way more immersive, it feels like you’re driving a car now,” Conti said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re playing a game. It feels like you’re driving a car. There’s still a lot to learn, but really pretty happy with what I’ve seen so far.

“The major differences are, the WR1 rig has a larger footprint, it’s a bigger, sturdier rig that’s built better overall. That doesn’t really affect performance; it’s just way nicer to look at. It’s really sharp. The biggest difference would be more in the equipment. The Logitech G27 was a basic wheel with a very small rim. The VRS wheel with the MPI rim mounted to it, is a direct-drive wheel so you get a lot more feedback from it. There’s a lot more customization you can do in the settings to get it to do what you want. Getting used to a bigger wheel I think has been the biggest difference.

“With a small wheel, every move you make with it matters. With the bigger wheel, I was trying to drive it the same way as with the G27 wheel, and I found that I was down on overall pace. Long-run pace was really good so I wasn’t using tires as much as I did, but I couldn’t get that one-lap pace out of it. Through some settings and relearning how to drive and changing steering ratio, I have the bigger rim feeling like the smaller one did. It looks different but it drives the same. I’ve got the speed back and some consistency and I’m feeling pretty good now.”

Most of his competition in the eNCCiRS uses some kind of sim rig these days, Conti said, though there is a lot of individual preference at play, from basic wheels and pedals to more substantial units. It’s all about feel, according to Conti.

Learn more about WR1 Sim Chassis and check out its wide selection at www.wr1sims.com.

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 15 01:30 PM ET
    Dover International Speedway
  • May 22 04:00 PM ET
    Pit Boss 250Circuit of the Americas
  • May 29 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • June 5 01:00 PM ET
    B&L Transport 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 12 04:00 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 250Texas Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Steakhouse Elite 200

Darlington Raceway | 5/8/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric3880
2Daniel Hemric349-39
3Harrison Burton321-67
4AJ Allmendinger297-91
5Jeb Burton294-94
6Justin Haley293-95
7Justin Allgaier265-123
11Noah Gragson218-170
12Michael Annett213-175
16Josh Berry #169-219