CXC Simulations’ race prep is pretty cool to experience

Photo: CXC Simulations
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“There’s no substitute for track time” is an oft-repeated, old adage in racing.

It might need to be amended to, “there’s one good substitute for track time,” when referring to the Motion Pro II simulator at Los Angeles-based CXC Simulations.

Founded by Chris Considine in 2007, a past driver in his own right and son of veteran motorsports journalist Tim Considine, CXC Simulations has quickly risen up the ranks in terms of a place to prepare, largely through word-of-mouth. You might have heard of CXC for its work in building a modified Motion Pro II for IndyCar team co-owner Sam Schmidt, who’s paralyzed, but has used the technology to drive the SAM street car using just his head and breathing.

Thanks to the engineering and design of the simulators, which are designed for in-home use, drivers of all ages and experience levels can get acquainted thanks to the near real world physics of the simulator – with a variety of cars and tracks available for use on the simulator with iRacing software.

It’s key for both professional drivers and more gentlemen drivers to have the time to improve their craft. For gentlemen drivers who own or operate businesses, their only track time may be on the race weekend itself, so oftentimes they’ll need to do simulator work at home because they don’t have a ton of time to test.

Verizon IndyCar Series NBCSN analyst Townsend Bell and fellow IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia are among those who train and practice at CXC, as is Laguna Beach native Michael Lewis, who’s won two Pirelli World Challenge races this season in an EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Olympic Gold Medalist Tyler Clary, a swimmer who’s a keen race fan and working to integrate himself into motorsports, was also by last week with Servia coaching him. And Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver Neil Alberico, another Calfornia native, was in earlier this week:

One of our Verizon IndyCar Series NBCSN pit reporters, Katie Hargitt, and I had a chance to head to the facility near LAX on the Thursday before this past weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to check out the Motion Pro II and prep for the weekend ahead by feeling the car out.

Hargitt was up first and sampled two cars, first the new 2016 Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car, and then the base Dallara DW12 chassis (sans aero kit) for her first time in the simulator at Long Beach.

Considine coached her through the process on the radio, although for Hargitt it was a nice opportunity to get back behind the wheel. She used to race quarter midgets before shifting to the media side of the sport.

“Simulation is repetition,” Considine says. “The more you do it, the more you believe it.”

And it showed. Hargitt’s clean lines and apexes on course, and good transition from the MX-5 car into the IndyCar, impressed those of us in the room.

She didn’t make any mistakes until her last lap after about a half hour run – Considine called her Turn 11 apex at the hairpin “perfect” at one point – and fully enjoyed the experience.

“I was just amazed at how realistic it was,” said Hargitt, who reports for NBCSN’s IndyCar and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races. “I really think it helped when I was working the race this weekend.

“I had a much better understanding of where drivers were on the track, which helped me understand the feedback they were giving over their radios. I can see how even just understanding the course is helpful for reporters, as well.”

For good measure, she also enjoyed a two-seater ride of the course on the Friday with Gabby Chaves, the 2015 IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year who’s talented but currently sidelined.

I was next up and straight into the IndyCar. Arguably the toughest part of the course for me was Turn 5 – a moderately off-camber right-hander that is super bumpy and key to launch out of quickly for the second of three long straights on the course. I could not get that corner right to save my life!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEM5E7yid8saYAkuKMhl5CA3WXQuq70iY_y1280/?taken-by=efrainolivares

Still, both Hargitt and I posted respectable times. I don’t think either one of us is going to be giving up our day jobs anytime soon to get behind the wheel, but it was still a very fun and enjoyable experience for both of us.

For more information on CXC Simulations, check out its website.

Follow @TonyDiZinno

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2