There is no denying the increase in attention that sim racing has received over the past month. Just take a look at Google’s web search index for the phrase “sim racing” over the past 90 days worldwide:
Within days of races being cancelled across the globe, nearly every race series began planning online events. F1, NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, SCCA and others are doing their best to keep the sport going during this time.
As a result, drivers of all levels and fans across the world are looking to be a part of the hot ticket at the moment – sim racing. So, what does that mean for the business that sell this equipment?
“Traffic to our website doubled after that first NASCAR race aired on FS1,” says Frank Rico, the founder of Ricmotech Racing Simulators – a reseller and manufacturer of sim racing equipment based in Miami Lakes, FL. “What we are seeing is a lot of people are stuck at home, they are not going to be able to go out on track for a while, they are being exposed to simulators on TV, so they are deciding now is the time to get into this.”
But that decision is only a “toe dip” into the cavernous lake that is sim racing. With so many options available, research and deciding what direction to turn can get overwhelming in a hurry. There is the subject of hardware (PC, console, wheels, pedals, etc.), software (platforms like iRacing, GranTurismo, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, etc.), and budget. We created a Sim Racing Primer a little while back to help with this, but honestly it is best to just talk with someone that has experience and can help you out.
Talking with Frank, we wanted to hear what all of this traffic means for them. “We are seeing orders come in for all ranges of product. Whether it is upgrades or modifications to existing equipment, complete systems that are on the shelf, or custom systems that usually take three weeks to put together. Now we are looking at a range of at least six to eight weeks for a custom build.”
Ricmotech is in a unique position because they not only resell equipment, but they manufacture a large number of components in-house. This alleviates some of the potential inventory problems, but-off-the shelf items may be a different story. “We are starting to see the inventory on the consumer-grade, mass produced items, dry up and we are trying to order as much as we can in anticipation of the inventory drying out.”
As many of these products are produced overseas, he is already witnessing the impact of increased demand coupled with a supply that is more difficult to replenish given the circumstances. “We are seeing a lot of SKUs of products that we resell being extinguished.” Though Frank affirms they will do everything they can to meet the demand of their customers and give them the same level of customer service the community has come to appreciate over the years. ”Our goal is to always have something to offer our customers.”
Back to that person that may be at home, watching sim racing, and deciding they want to dive into this. Frank suggests, “Now is not really the time to put together or purchase your dream simulator. Get a wheel, clamp it to your desk, and put your pedals on the floor. You can pass the time, stay sharp, and even be competitive. Who knows, you may even have some fun too.”