Technical Requirements

Software Requirements

To run IndyCar Racing II or NASCAR 2, you will need to be running DOS, or MS DOS Mode under Windows 95. I don't recommend running IndyCar 2 directly from Windows 95 for performance and compatibility reasons. Other newer sims, such as SODA and MS CART Precision Racing, run only under Windows 95.

Hardware Requirements

To run IndyCar Racing II or NASCAR 2, you'll need at least a 486/DX66, but I highly recommend a Pentium 133 or better. For these two sims, I highly recommend a 3D video card built around the Rendition Verite 1000 chipset. In addition, you'll need an input device, and for multiplayer racing, you'll need need some additional hardware.

To run F1RS well, you'll also need a 3Dfx card, and I recommend at least an AMD K6/200 or Pentium 166 processor.

Also see my separate pages on controllers like the Thrustmaster T2 and Thrustmaster GP1 racing wheels.

Voodoo Video Cards

Due to an incompatibility with F1RS, and problems with many games' installers not recognizing it as a Voodoo card, I recommend against cards based on the entry-level Voodoo Rush chipset. These include the Hercules Stingray 128 3D, the Intergraph Intense 3D Voodoo, and the Jazz Multimedia Adrenaline Rush.
If you get the Guillemot Maxi Gamer, F1RS may not recognize it as a 3Dfx card. Use the drivers for the Diamond Monster 3D, available free from Diamond's web site, or the default 3Dfx drivers included with DirectX 5.
I have recently acquired a 3D card based on the 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics chipset, for playing the awesome new racing sim F1RS. This convinced me that the state of the art has moved on from ICR2 and the Rendition 1000 chipset used by the cards described below. I now consider a Voodoo Graphics card to be an absolute must for the serious sim racer.

I bought a Diamond Monster 3D card for $180 from Software Etc. in December for $180, and my brother got a Guillemot Maxi Graphics Gamer 3D from Electronics Boutique for $150 a few days later. Both are excellent, and have software bundles. The Diamond package has an extensive bundle, while the Maxi Gamer's is less extensive but contains the excellent arcade racer, Pod.

At this writing, the best 3Dfx card is probably the Canopus Pure 3D, available from the factory for $180. This has an extra 2mb of memory and a TV out.

Other Voodoo Graphics cards available as of this writing include the Deltron Flash 3D for $149 (call 888/450-4444), the Orchid Righteous 3D, and the expensive Quantum 3D Obsidian.

Note that the Voodoo Graphics cards are add-on cards; they do not replace your existing video card, but rather supplement it. Software chooses the appropriate card for any given application. This means that a 3Dfx card can co-exist quite well with a Rendition card in the same machine. This is the combination I am using, and it gives me the best of both worlds: 3Dfx support for F1RS, and Rendition support for SODA, Papyrus IndyCar II/CART Racing, and NASCAR 2.

In March or April 98, cards based on the Voodoo 2 chipset will be released. Benchmarks are showing this card to have about three times the performance of the Voodoo Graphics card.

Find more information about 3Dfx cards and links to various manufacturers at 3Dfx Interactive, and a wealth of technical information at Operation: 3Dfx..

Rendition 3D Video Cards

I highly recommend the Rendition-ready version of IndyCar Racing 2. This version is so superior to the non-Rendition version that it's difficult to describe the difference; you really must see it. To run Rendition-ready ICR2 or N2 in Rendition mode, you will need a Rendition-based 3D card, available from the following manufacturers:

Sierra (Screamin' 3D)
Intergraph (Intense 3D)
Canopus (Total3D)
Creative Labs (3D Blaster PCI)
I/O Magic (Magic Video)

All of these cards, except Creative Labs', come packaged with the Rendition-ready version of ICR2. Prices have dropped drastically: as of this writing, the Intense 3D is the least expensive, at $100, while the Magic Video lists for $139 and the Screamin' 3D for $149.

Note: Currently only 3D cards using the Rendition Verite 1000 work with ICR2; the new Verite 2200 cards have a compatibility problem which may or may not be solved in the near future.

I've found that the Rendition version of ICR2 runs great on a Pentium 133. I still consider this the state of the art racing sim for CART racing.

Note: check here for some information about running ICR2 on the newer Rendition 2x00 3D cards.

Input Devices

For sim racing, I find that a driving wheel and pedal combo such as Thrustmaster's T2 is almost essential, especially for road courses. The T2 is my favorite, and at this writing is available for $99 from Software Etc.

A newer alternative is Thrustmaster's GP1, which is very similar to the T2 but has paddles on the back of the wheel instead of brake and gas pedals. I bought my GP1 for $50 at Sam's Club recently. I use my GP1 in conjunction with my CH Products CH Pedals, which I got for $50 from Electronics Boutique, as I recall. In this configuration, the pedals act as brake and throttle, and in IndyCar 2, I set up the paddles on the wheel for use as shifters, just like a real Formula One car. Unfortunately, Microprose/Spectrum Holobyte's Grand Prix II does not allow this shifter choice (you must use buttons on the front of the wheel for shifting), but it does allow the CH Pedals to be used for throttle and brake.

Another new design from Thrustmaster called is the NASCAR Pro (known as the Formula One wheel outside the US). This looks like it eliminates one of the big weaknesses of the T2 and GP1 by using a totally new design for clamping it to the table. It also allows the brake and throttle to be set up to act independently in sims that support this (ICR2 does). I saw this recently at Software Etc. for around $139.

Another alternative is a CH Products Virtual Pilot yoke and CH Pedals, but this setup costs at least as much as a T2 and is not as good, at least for steering; there is still not enough travel for good precision. On the plus side, the pedals can be set to work independently, and the yoke and pedals can also be used with flying sims.

You can also use a joystick but these are not very good for racing; there is not enough precision available in a joystick's short throw, and it is difficult to separate steering motions from throttle and brake motions.

You can buy more expensive wheel and pedal combinations, some of which sell for over $1500, or you can build your own.

See my Controllers page for more information.

Multiplayer Racing

IndyCar Racing 2, Grand Prix II, and NASCAR 2 support two-player modem play. To race on two machines in the same room all you need is a null modem cable. To race between two machines connected by telephone, you need modems on each machine, at least 9600 baud. Some newer sims require 14,400 baud modems or faster.

Newer sims, including N2 and MS CART Precision racing, support up to 8 players in via a LAN or the internet. For networked play on a LAN, you'll need a 10Base-2 ethernet card in each machine (about $20 each), ethernet coax cables for each machine except one ($10 each) and two terminators ($5). You can also use a 10Base-T network, which will require a hub (about $60 minimum) and different cables.

Note: See my article entitled The Racing Platform for more information about hardware requirements.