Rick Kelly is readying himself for a new engineering challenge with a backyard simulator build for the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries.
Kelly may be an experienced hand in Supercars with over 500 race starts, but the 37-year-old is a bonafide sim racing rookie.
Unlike several Supercars drivers, Kelly doesn’t own a simulator and hasn’t had much interest in online racing to date.
However, he’ll soon be thrown in the deep end with the new Eseries, which will see all 25 current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship competitors race against each other online.
While Kelly could buy an off-the-shelf simulator, he’s keen to take on the challenge of building his own budget set-up.
“A simulator is a bit like a car, you can spend a few thousand dollars or $75,000,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“I know what components we would need at the top end, but I can’t go out and buy them.
“I’m not in a position to invest in something decent, so I’m going to have a bit of fun with it and piece together an entry-level simulator and see how we go.
“It’s not going to be ideal to start (…) hopefully I can progress (the simulator build) as the series goes on.
“I’m a more hands-on kind of guy, so cutting wood and screwing it together will be a lot of fun.”
Kelly is starting from scratch, meaning he’ll have to acquire the necessary peripherals as well as building a frame and a computer.
Much like a race car, he’s conscious he’ll need a computer that can perform. To keep costs down he’ll build what he can himself.
“I’ve had a decent dig around to understand what the important parts of sim racing are on software and more importantly hardware,” he said.
“Building the rig itself is fun and simple for me because I’ve got the tools and hardware in the shed to do it.
“It’s getting the components I need to make the sim work that’s the tricky thing.
“I’ve tested the internet speed, which based on what Supercars tells me, will be okay.
“The computer is the big one. That’s the heart of the system to some extent and they’re not cheap. I’m just trying to work out how to make that viable.”
Kelly is remaining realistic about his chances in the Eseries, which utilises iRacing.
He expects the experienced sim racers including the likes of Scott McLaughlin, Anton De Pasquale, and Shane van Gisbergen will be the drivers to beat.
“Together with the sim, I’ve got zero experience in one of these things,” he said.
“The small bit of knowledge I have on them that makes you a good sim racing is dedicating the time to sit there every day doing it.
“There are a lot of guys in our category that have done that and spent time in them. It’s going to be a tough old slog for me initially, that’s for sure.
“As the series goes on I’ll do my best to work forward from several laps down to having a battle.”
The BP Supercars All Stars Eseries is set to start on April 8 at 19:00 AEDT.