A Day at the Virtual Races

by Alphaville Herald on 25/01/07 at 10:57 am

by Jimbo Quality

[Editor's Note: We sent Herald reporter Jimbo Quality out to cover the Second Life racing scene. His report below is presented as the first installment of his Traveling With the Idiot series. You'll soon see why.
--Walker Spaight

The author wonders whether he’s made a wrong left turn

To avoid looking like a complete nerd, I ditched the free SL Herald reporter’s hat they gave me before heading out into the grid on my first story. My assignment was simple; bring the thriving SL motorcycle community to life for our readers. I planned to spread the story out, start with the racers and then move to the bikers then start making up crap after that. “I can do this!” I thought as I started to work my special brand of magic on the search box.

“I totally suck at this!” I thought after a few searches had yielded no obvious motorcycle groups. Unbeaten and unbowed, however, I did what every other good Herald reporter does: I blamed it on the latest update and set out to make shit up.

Actually, I picked a place that looked promising and clicked my trusty steed, Teleport. I landed at a shop that sells motorcycle racing apparel. I browsed, took their freebies, and wandered around outside, thinking that this might be a long day after all. Just as I was about to give up and have another go at my nemesis the search box, I spotted a place that advertised Go Kart Racing. “Ah ha!” said I, already having mastered the lingo of reporting the news.

Being a good reporter, and fearing that this might be as close to motorcycle racing as I might get, I explored the Go Kart place. Being a cheap bastard, I explored it even more carefully once I discovered the sign advertising that they were “Under Construction, Free Racing Until January 15th.” As near as I could figure however, this freebie is only good if you own your own go kart, or if you feel like it might be fun to make your avatar run around the track. Neither state of being applied to me, so I prepared to move on.

Our intrepid reporter at the Go Kart Track: “But the caution tape was like that when I got here,” he claims.

My next search yielded an actual racetrack, the Fairgrounds Speedway, so I went there. (And you can too, via this teleport link.) I was busy reading the extensive welcome card when another traveler popped in and landed on my head. I said “ouch” and she apologized and I noticed that she was very cute and very much not dressed for racing.

“You’re not dressed for racing!” I quipped.

“Is this a racetrack? Oh Jeez, I’m so lost. I’m looking for garden tools,” she said. And thus began my relationship with the one person in SL who the search box hates worse than it does me.

JennyJenny (pictured at left) packed up and continued her search for garden tools and I went back to reading the notecard from the Fairgrounds Speedway, which is, I should add in the hopes that they’ll buy me a car, sponsored by the wonderful people at Pontiac. Reading the notecard the second time through yielded no new clues, and certainly produced no experiences as life changing as having Jenny the Lost land on my head, but it did introduce me to the word “pitywhoring.” I’m not sure what that is, but I love the word and I’m glad that the good people at Fairgrounds Speedway are stomping it out. I’m excited about this, it’s kind of a pure Pontiac excitement. . . .

Wandering around the track, I dicsovered that I had found my way to a place where they race stockcars. They’re not motorcycles, but at least they race here. My search skills are definitely improving. Just as I was about to embark on another search, I spotted a young gray fox named Nick and asked him if I could ask him some questions.

[14:38] You: hi nick
[14:38] Nick: hello
[14:39] You: do you race here?
[14:39] Nick: sometimes
[14:39] You: i want to write a story about if for the sl herald, can i ask you about it?
[14:40] You: you ok?
[14:40] Nick pops back and merfs “I’ll live”

Yes, dear reader, somewhere along about 14:39 a car came screaming down the track and poof! Nick went from interviewee to screaming hood ornament hurtling down the track. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in SL.

So, for Nick’s sake, we moved off the track and the interview resumed.

[14:40] You: wow, that was intense!
[14:40] Nick: that’s why i was suggesting we step outta traffic lol
[14:41] You: is that was you were typing when you were, uh, hit by that car?
[14:41] Nick: yesh
[14:41] You: so what can you tell me about racing?
[14:41] You: how long have you been doing it?
[14:42] Nick: well i started yesterday

This, in my mind, made him the perfect person for me to interview. It’s his first full day of racing and my first half-assed attempt at reporting. Match made in heaven.

“A Firebird sure would be nice…”

It seems that down there at the Fairgrounds Racetrack they race at all hours for fun and excitement. There’s a little track and a big track, and thanks to people like me and Nick, there’s an obstacle course that occasionally screams. Nick is very excited about racing and has already purchased two cars, as they run different types of cars on the different length tracks. I talked to Nick for quite a while, and he filled me in on the ins and outs of the sport very impressively, especially considering that not long before he’d been hit by a car going 200 miles an hour.

I was most amazed that the sport is so cheap to get going in; a good starter car can cost as little as 100 to 150 Linden dollars, and the track is available most of the time. When I was exploring, there were perhaps three or four cars racing around. Apparently there are also big races that are fun to attend. My new friend Nick is sold on the sport and hopes we will be too: “People should come down, buy one of the cars and try the racing,” he says. “It isn’t too expensive and it is a lot of fun to come and do.”

Nick in his new “street stock.” While there are clearly defined categories of cars at the Fairgrounds Racetrack, such as this “street stock,” the author wasn’t bright enough to write anything down so he could tell you anything about them.

Personally, I probably will go back and try racing because it looked like a helluva lot of fun. I probably won’t do it soon, though, because I forgot to get a landmark and have well document issues with the search function. On a related note, dear readers, you will be happy to learn that my new friend Jenny was able to find some garden tools, and another racer at the track provided me with some names to look up for my upcoming article on SL Motorcycle racing.

Until then, friends, have fun and remember to always bring a towel on your travels.

12 Responses to “A Day at the Virtual Races”

  1. Artemis Fate

    Jan 25th, 2007

    I’m surprised you missed the “SL Motorcycle Racing Association” group, which has over 1000 members, it’s own dedicated racing sim (misp), and holds weekly motorcycle races with customized racing bikes by Les White.

  2. Onder Skall

    Jan 25th, 2007

    How do the cars handle? How’s the lag? Is it any fun?

  3. Lynette Radio

    Jan 25th, 2007

    I race around Podcast island from time to time, on a Go-Kart. Still not good enough yet to race on a cycle, as my digital noggin is afraid of splatting on the pavement.

  4. Jimbo Quality

    Jan 25th, 2007

    Hi Artemis, never underestimate my ability to miss the obvious. :)
    Actually when i started researching the “search groups” feature was down. I have since become a member of the SL Motorcycle Racing Association” and proudly wear my racer tag a lot. (Please don’t tell anyone I’m not an actual racer yet…it’ll be just our secret, ok?)

    Hi Onder, The night I was there the track was almost lag free. The cars handle very well, but because you’re moving yourself a lot faster than you do when you walk, it can be tricky not to run into things (a lot). That could of course just be me.

    Hi Lynette, I’m with you! I’m looking into scooters. :)

    Thanks for reading my jibberish and for the comments! SL Herald readers are the best!


  5. humanoid

    Jan 25th, 2007

    Maybe playing lots of top notch simulators has ruined my chance of enjoying vehicles in SL. So far I’ve found the best of them to have the feel and detail of a 1980s CGA computer game, but with the added problem of online lag. I think someone would’ve created a SL vehicle worth a damn by now if it was technically possible with the existing tools.

  6. Razen Nefarious

    Jan 25th, 2007

    Hey Jimbo

    Thanks for checking out Pontiac’s island and for the shameless plug…your wish is my command, I just gave you 600 lindens to cover the cost of one of our Solstice GXP’s.

    You can check out the car at

    If cycles are more your style than you can’t go wrong with a bike by Les White. He’s also on our island at http://motoratilife.com/directory/detail.php?id=82

    Enjoy and give me a yell in world, we’ll go racing some time!

  7. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 25th, 2007

    Great piece, Jimbo, loved it. Give that man a drink! Sometimes you can’t find groups now because the search in GROUPS only works on keywords that happen to be in the very first word of the Group’s name. So unless you “just knew” to look this group up under “SL”, you wouldn’t find it; using “motorcyle” would turn up 0. In PLACEs, if they had land named after the group, it might show.

  8. Suku Ming

    Jan 26th, 2007

    Hey, thanks for checking out my track. Nick’s the new guy around there, there’s been a recent influx of drivers. I blame you *grins*.

    Oh yeah, don’t forget, there ARE motorcycle racin’ tracks. I used to race at them a while back, so gimme holler if you need help finding anything racing related.

  9. Jonas Pierterson

    Jan 26th, 2007

    Good track, try checking out the regular races. :)

  10. Patch Lamington

    Jan 26th, 2007

    can’t wait for more quality reporting like that! was rofl’ing all the way through…

  11. Jimbo Quality

    Jan 27th, 2007

    Wow! You are all the best! Thank you for the kind words Patch, Suku and Prokofy. You can bet I will check out the races Jonas and HOLY CRAP Razen, thanks for the car!

    Driven with pure pontiac excitement,

  12. Nacon

    Jan 29th, 2007

    I’m still waiting for a comment from Pixeleen about Motorati at all… As far I remember, she was attacking them and Razen about how Pontiac didn’t slap their logo on everything.

    Hmmm… interesting. Did I just smell a sense of cowardice for not admitting their (her) rude behavior they’ve (she) done to them?

    Oh that’s right… she just had to send Jimbo in to give them good words about them to make up for it. Ahh.. tricky, Pixeleen.

    Good job, Jimbo.

    (I didn’t forget about you too, Heartun)

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