Pocket Racing in Second Life

"It's a glorious day here at the Inazuma circuit, Ace Resort, with perfect race conditions, a track temperature of 37 degrees, and the drivers ll looking forward to a good race..."

“It’s a glorious day here at the Inazuma circuit, Ace Resort, with perfect race conditions, a track temperature of 37 degrees, and the drivers all looking forward to a good race…”

I’m always on the lookout for fun things to do in Second Life  – hence how I got into sailing, boating and flying. I’ve also poked around at cars and racing, but they’ve never really appealed to the same degree. However, when Annie Brightstar posted an article about trying a Pocket Racing circuit recently, it piqued my curiosity.

The track in question is the [Pocket Racers] Inazuma Circuit, part of the 719 Racing brand created by Hakuyuki719. It is designed to fit into a 1/4 region and comes complete with everything needed for up to 8 people at a time to race one another and / or race against the clock. The cars presented by the track are the little 719 [Pocket Racer] Wing series which can also be purchased separately as a rezzing system.

When I say the cars are little, I'm not kidding. They are, however, veritable pocket rockets

When I say the cars are little, I’m not kidding. They are, however, veritable pocket rockets

Like Annie, I hopped over to the track at Ace Resort, a Japanese region offering a variety of activities at ground level (and possibly elsewhere in the sky – I confess I didn’t explore that much, other than by, um, accident…), with the track located high overhead.

The car rezzer is located at the end of the pit lane, and I would suggest that once you have driven off of it, you touch the car for the configuration menu – these may be pocket-sized vehicles, but that doesn’t mean they have a pocket-sized performance; they can actually be something of a handful for the uninitiated. I found setting the transmission to Auto and re-setting the steering responsiveness to around 5-6 worked best for me, but the best thing is to fiddle with the settings yourself.

On the grid following an installation lap (or six...)

On the grid following an installation lap (or six…)

You can do this by heading out onto the track for an F1-style installation lap, which also allows you to gain some familiarity with the track before racing begins. Then it’s back around to the grid ready to race your lap time will automatically start and be recorded each time you cross the start / finish line.

My early laps were not brilliant, but as I settled down, I did manage to climb up to 4th place on the timings board. However, I seriously doubt my technique would endear me to a Formula 1 team, given it partially relied upon bouncing the car off the Armco barriers at the side of the track.

4th fastest time - just don't ask to see the condition of the car after I achieved it...

4th fastest time – just don’t ask to see the condition of the car after I achieved it…

There are transparent safety walls around the course, although I didn’t find them particularly effective. This probably say more about my racing technique than any fault in the safety system, but it did give me the opportunity to discover the shooting range at ground level – if only by dint of landing in it. Well, it was that or bailing out of the car and practising my skydiving technique instead!

The great benefit of courses like this is they don’t involve the unpredictability of region crossings (719 Racing also produce a region-sized track suitable for “full-sized” racing cars), while the tight fit of this particular course makes it very competitive in these little cars. When driving on your own, the clock becomes a significant adversary, and I’d imagine when racing against friends, a certain hilarity would be forthcoming.

"Well, I was going to take a look at what was on the ground after racing, anyway..."

“Well, I was going to take a look at what was on the ground after racing, anyway…”

Is it enough to convert me to racing cars in-world? Well, no; I’m too addicted to boating and flying. Is it a fun way to spend an hour or so completely distracted from the care and worries of the world, physical or virtual? Absolutely. There are doubtless other Pocket Racer tracks scattered around SL, but if you want to give things a try, Ace Resort is a good place to start. And if you’re looking for a new attraction for your own region, the 719 Inazuma Circuit might be just the ticket!

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