Beloit student revs up sim competition racing team
High speed and agile thinking merge into the “learn and live” experience with a new sim racing demo on campus. First-year student Ishan Bhasin’26 invites others to get behind the wheel.
Ishan Bhasin’26 got his driver’s license last year and he’s already traded in the family car for a slick Formula Four racing machine.
During study breaks, the 19-year-old settles into the curves of his favorite track, Lime Rock Park, edging into curves at high speed, feeling the engine’s torque.
Simulation racing, or sim racing as it’s known to fans like Ishan, has come to Beloit College and its pit stop is the third floor of CELEB, the entrepreneurship center, overlooking downtown.
More than a glorified video game, racing is simulated with a myriad of vehicles and tracks, bringing it so close to reality you can smell the burnt rubber and fuel exhaust.
“If you understand physics, you can drive this thing,” Ishan says confidently. “I can feel the car, the conditions of the car changing — you just understand a lot more when you feel it. And if I get into trouble and put it into the wall, I just press a button and I’m back to the start, and I don’t get a five-figure repair bill.”
Manufacturers help design the software to mimic their vehicles and tracks are traced by lasers to accurately portray every turn and straightaway.
“The technology in this field — software and hardware — has come surprisingly close to driving on a track,” Ishan says. “Pretty much every professional racing team has their simulator, and if they are putting in a lot of hours on the simulators, there’s something to this.”
The Iracing Formula IR-04 is Ishan’s favorite vehicle to rev up.
“I love how you can throw it around in the corners, and it’s pretty forgiving on the limit of grip, so it’s a very fun experience to push the limit in it,” he says. “I also love the Formula Vee because of its manual gearbox, because I love heel-toeing.”
Alumni donors provided CELEB with $2,000 for the simulator, hoping to inspire the next generation of thinkers, doers, and creators.
“While CELEB has plenty of programming, what makes it unique is the ability to support students pursuing their ideas,” says Clinical Professor and CELEB Director Brian Morello. “Sim racing is a prime example of students learning through self-selecting something meaningful to them.”
physics and economics at Beloit College and appreciates the “learn it, live it” of this unique experience available to students. He rallied a group of friends to assemble the kit in three days during winter break, eager to test it out. Ishan studies
“If you think driving is cool, this is the way to get into the hobby unless you want to drop a couple of hundred thousand on a race car,” Ishan says. “If you are analytical and logical, and can apply concepts accurately and consistently, sim racing is accessible and you can succeed.”
More than 30 students checked out the new sim racing demo at a February open house. The event was promising, Morello says.
“Building an esports team, working with technology and media, and navigating the evolution of video gaming are all activities that promote what we care about developing in our students: collaboration, problem-solving, intellectual agility, and communication,” he says.
Ishan’s goal now is to gather a team, outfitted in matching team uniforms, to compete virtually with other colleges and organizations. The Le Mans Virtual series is one of the most elite competitions with serious prize money, and last year NASCAR launched a collegiate virtual racing series, so a future Beloit College sim racing team has plenty of opportunities.
“We want to expand the sim racing program so we can compete against other colleges and organizations,” Ishan says. “It’s a great experience and opportunity that many college students do not have, so try it and see if you have a great time.”
Want to know more about Beloit College’s sim racing? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call CELEB at 608-363-2900.