Racing games have come a long way since the days of Outrun. Today there are games out there with graphics that almost look more realistic than actual pictures. The collision damage is more realistic than ever, tire pressure and heat has an impact on how the car will handle, the suspension can be as fine-tuned as we would expect on a real race car.
But even with all these improvements in the world of video game racing, there are some persistent car related myths that just refuse to die. Some of them are just downright strange, and it makes no sense to us that people actually believe them. Most of those are the older myths from the times when games were just starting to become more realistic. Other car myths people believe thanks to video games are more plausible, and perhaps people actually believe these myths because games are becoming so realistic? With more realistic games, it would make sense that things would work the same way in real life, right?
Some myths relate to the mechanical side of cars, but it seems a lot of them are about the physics behind driving a car at high speeds and how grip levels will change in various scenarios. Perhaps because a lot of gamers haven't actually driven cars at really high speeds? Whatever the reasons may be, let's just dive into it and take a closer look at the weird myths people believe because of video games.
20 NO CARS ARE AS GOOD AS A NISSAN SKYLINE GT-R
The Nissan Skyline GT-R is an absolutely incredible beast of a car. It has been dominating race circuits for decades. In fact, it was so good that it got banned from some racing series. But is it the best car ever made? Well, it depends on what you're into.
One of the things that made the Skyline so famous is the amount of power it is capable of producing while still remaining reliable. Of course, this would be taken slightly out of proportion in video games, where a new air filter and intercooler would triple its power. Ok, so we might be exaggerating a little, but people thought it was easier to squeeze out 1,000 horses from the RB26 engine than it actually is.
19 SUZUKI PIKES PEAK ESCUDO IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST CAR
Back in the day when Gran Turismo was the king of realistic racing games, there was one car that would truly destroy its competition. It was practically unbeatable. In fact, tune it right, and it would produce 1900+ horsepower that made it wheelie while going down the track at 285 mph. How's that for realism?
This, of course, meant that a lot of people thought the Pikes Peak Escudo was the fastest car ever made. And for a while, it certainly was the fastest car to climb mountain roads - with close to 1000 hp - but that's pretty much the only thing it was set up to do.
18 IT'S EASY TO PERFORM A SUB 9 MINUTE LAP AT THE NÜRBURGRING NORDSCHLEIFE
You can take pretty much any car from any game featuring the Nürburgring Nordschleife, throw a couple of modifications on there and let it rip, and most likely you'll be able to get around the track in well under nine minutes if you don't have any major accidents.
In real life, however, things are slightly different. The first thing you'll notice is how bumpy the track is. It's nothing like what you thought it would be when playing the game. Second, you'll have to deal with traffic. Driving 'The Ring' in real life is way scarier than on a console, and it comes with real-life consequences, such as having to pay for any damage if you crash.
17 DRIFTING WILL MAKE YOU CORNER FASTER
Who doesn't enjoy a bit of sideways action when driving their dream car on their favorite track? We're certainly big fans of that kind of thing, but we also realize that it's not the fastest or most efficient way around a corner.
There are plenty of games out there that brand themselves as realistic racing games, but it's not really all that realistic when you're drifting a mid-engined supercar around corners at 150 mph and setting new lap records while doing so. We love the thought of doing that though. Who cares if it's not realistic? It's fun, and that's all that matters!
16 GOING OFF THE TRACK WILL SAVE YOU TIME THROUGH CORNERS
If you've ever played a racing game we can almost guarantee you're guilty of this. We all are. Refusing to lose, we'll cut across the grass in an effort to pass the two cars in front on the final corner. It used to be that it didn't slow us down and we didn't get a penalty... which is why everyone always did it.
These days, chances are you'll actually lose time by doing this while playing, so hopefully, people will stop believing this is a somewhat sensible way of negotiating a corner. Those who don't know how scary this is in real life should hire a race track for a few hours and invite all their gamer buddies. Just remember to bring extra pants.
15 MORE POWER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A PROPER CHASSIS SETUP
In order to build a car that's fun to drive in real life, you'll want it to be balanced. Most of us start off by changing the wheels and tires, just to get a bit more grip on those twisty mountain roads. Brakes are nice to have when we want to stop efficiently, as well as suspension that will help us get through the corners.
Then you have the gamer's way of modifying a car; add more power! We want all the power! This, of course, makes the car absolutely terrible to drive, but that doesn't matter - because it will be unbeatable. Almost everyone has a friend like that, and you know they learned it from video games.
14 VIDEO GAME CAR SETUP WILL WORK ON A REAL LIFE CAR
Oh, how we wish this was true. Imagine being able to buy the exact same parts for your car in the game as in real life. And then being able to fine-tune and test it all out in the game before just transferring the same setup to your real car.
Sadly, it doesn't work that way. Neither can you take your real-world setup and apply it to your in-game car. Believe us, we've tried. Does it really matter? Nah, there are probably more important things to worry about in life. But it does mean we have to spend time experimenting with setups both on the daily driver and the pixel version.
13 BECOME AS GOOD AS A REAL RACECAR DRIVER
Ok, Enzo Bonito, a professional player of Gran Turismo, Asseto Corsa and iRacing, did actually beat the former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi at the Race of Champions in Mexico. And we do know Nissan's Le Mans team sometimes take a closer look on video game racers.
But... There's a bit more to being a racecar driver than winning one race. Race of Champions is a short race on a short track, and while we're seriously impressed with what the pro gamer achieved, we have no information whether he's done any real-world racing before. Also, once this kind of thing starts happening regularly, we'll definitely believe it - but for now, let's just say it's not something most gamers would be capable of.
12 ONLY THE BODYWORK GETS DAMAGED IN A COLLISION
While games are getting more advanced now, there used to be a time when all damage was purely cosmetic... that's if there was any damage at all. This will probably come as a surprise to you, but there are actually people out there who believe only the body panels will be damaged in a "fender bender", while in reality, the damage can be quite severe.
While this is 100% down to ignorance and a lack of knowledge, car games certainly haven't done anything to help people learn. That's probably gonna change though, as we see more and more games are now including more realistic damage models.
11 ALL CARS HANDLE THE SAME AT HIGH SPEEDS
This is actually a huge one. We've seen tons of examples of people giving out the same generic advise for high-speed driving - as if every car handles the same while traveling at brisk speeds.
Those generic tips do work wonders for high-performance driving on video games, but there's no place for such nonsense in the real world. To use a rather extreme example; Drive a Nissan GT-R as fast as possible through a corner, now try using the same technique while driving an 80s Porsche 911 Turbo through the same corner at the same speed. It's not gonna work, and most likely you'd learn why early 911 Turbo's where nicknamed "The Widow Maker."
10 ANY CAR CAN TACKLE ALL KINDS OF TERRAIN
While it might not be a problem to take a McLaren P1 off road at 200 mph in Forza Horizon, you certainly don't want to try it in real life. Heck, even taking a regular sedan off-road at 25 miles per hour probably isn't a very good idea. It might be insane amounts of fun for a short while, but something will break sooner rather than later.
We really don't know why anyone would think they can take their normal everyday car off road, or drive it down a flight of stairs for that matter. But by spending a few minutes on Youtube we can find plenty of people who do so.
9 NITROUS OXIDE IS A MUST
The whole nitrous thing was taken way out of proportion when the Fast and the Furious movie hit theaters all around the world. While nitrous had been a part of the street racing scene for years already, that movie made it seem like magic in a bottle.
Of course, it had to be implemented in race games as well. It wasn't just the arcade-style games, like Need For Speed, that featured nitrous, even Gran Turismo let you modify your car and install a bottle of laughing gas to secure that win as you're going down the final straight. Most of us know better than to fit this to our cars in real life though.
8 THERE ARE SECRET UNDERGROUND RACING LEAGUES ALL OVER THE WORLD
While there is some truth to this, it's nowhere near what some people expect from having played street racing games on their Xbox. So, yes - there definitely is some level of street racing going on pretty much wherever we can find cars. But no - they aren't anything like racing leagues where everyone's cars have been built on money from race wins and a life of underground racing.
Most underground street racing is just a few friends who want to find out who's the fastest, or two strangers who meet at a red light and rev their engines before setting off as soon as the light turn green.
7 NO NEED TO SHIFT MANUALLY, AUTOMATICS ARE JUST AS GOOD
Ok, truth to be told, the modern automatic transmissions that can be found in sports cars do actually shift much faster than we could ever do with a manual gearbox. But most of us aren't using Italian exotics as daily drivers, and that four-speed auto box in your 10-year-old Mazda doesn't come anywhere close to being optimal for fast driving.
Why on earth would anyone think automatic transmissions are anywhere near as good as manuals then? Because of racing games! When there's little to no difference in acceleration and top speed between a manual and automatic transmission in the newest super-realistic game, why should it matter in the real world? But it does, and we'd go for the stick-shift every time.
6 A DAMAGED CAR CAN BE REPAIRED FAST AND EASY
After a few battles during a hard race on your favorite game, the car will most likely have taken a severe beating. No worries though, some of your race-win credits will be used to fix the car and it will be as good as new the next time you see it in your garage.
Taking your real car to do a track day could very easily end in tragedy though. Just a short detour off the track could result in bent rims, damaged suspension, and crumpled up bodywork. All of which could leave you without a car for a while if you're low on funds. Most people who've driven on a track enjoy racing games, and they've also learned the true cost of track days.
5 MORE STYLING PARTS EQUALS MORE STREET CRED
This one was huge back in the mid-2000s as the Need For Speed Underground games carried on the torch from the first Fast and Furious movies. Big styling, big wings, big vinyl graphics, and big wheels were necessities in order to progress in the game.
Unfortunately, it seems like some people mistook the games for reality, and we got to witness some of the most hideously overstyled cars the world has ever seen. For a while, every car that was featured in magazines had hoods with ridiculous scoops, huge spinner rims, 5-inch exhausts... you name it. Hopefully, mankind has learned its lesson so we'll never have to see such abominations ever again. More is not always better!
4 CARS CAN BE USED AS BATTERING RAMS
There are several ways cars are being used as battering rams in video games. Some just find it easier to smash their way up the field in the more realistic racing games, which also happens to be a very effective method to get yourself kicked out of online racing lobbies. Arcade racing games often require us to use our cars as battering rams to crash through walls, locked gates, toll booths, and whatever else the game designers saw fit to place in our path.
While it technically is possible to ram your car through some obstacles, chances are that it'll cause so much damage to the car that the fun will end shortly thereafter. Not recommended.
3 RACING DRIVERS STAY SHARP OFF-SEASON BY PLAYING VIDEO GAMES
Considering how advanced games have become these days, this myth is easy to believe. There are plenty of racing drivers who play racing games for fun, and it's true that some have used racing games to get a grasp of the layout of a track they've never raced before.
However, they're not using it as a serious method of training and preparing for the upcoming season. It's purely recreational, and if a race car driver states differently in an interview, chances are that he or she is sponsored by the game and is just doing his job as part of the PR machine.
2 BRAKING ON THE GRASS IS JUST AS GOOD AS ON THE TRACK
The light turns green and all the cars shoot off the line, you've already passed some cars and gained a few positions, but now that first corner is coming towards you. Fast. You don't want to ruin your car by smashing into the other cars on the track, so you take it onto the grass as you slam that middle pedal to the floor. Crisis averted!
Do people believe this works in real life? Well, we've seen it happen on track days. Of course, taking the car on the grass might help the driver avoid a crash, but it certainly won't slow the car down anywhere near as fast as when it's kept on the track.
1 MIXING AND MATCHING BOLT ON PARTS CAN MAKE A HOT HATCH FASTER THAN A SUPERCAR
It's totally understandable that some people would believe this myth. There are the games that are quite realistic in some areas showing you a decent increase in power from simple bolt-on parts, and the more arcadey games usually take the power increases even further. It certainly doesn't help that bolt-on part manufacturers tend to claim somewhat excessive power increases from fitting their parts.
While there are some bolt-on turbo kits that can give massive power increases, those will most likely shorten the life of your car's engine and transmission. Realistically, tuning a normal car to be able to compete with supercars will take a lot of money and time. It's definitely possible, just not as easy as playing Need For Speed.
Sources: IGN, Jalopnik, Road And Track