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New sim racing business burns virtual rubber in Downtown Guelph

The sim racing game room is open six days a week at 33 Quebec St. by appointment only

An avid sim racer is sharing his passion through a new business in Downtown Guelph.

Turn1 Sim Racing will hold a grand opening on Saturday at 33 Quebec St., allowing visitors to book an appointment to play racing video games six days a week.

"It was a chance to introduce something new to Guelph because there's nothing like it around, and form a community," said Andre Robinson, one of the directors and general manager at Turn1.

"The sim racing community in particular, and auto sports in general, the community are pretty tightly knitted, always people trying to help you out and always sharing information."

When you walk in, there is a storefront for bookings and merchandise.

The action, however, happens downstairs in what Robinson describes as a man-cave feel.

Lined up against the wall are five stations for racing, all with state-of-the-art PC racing gaming equipment.

Robinson said himself and most people he spoke to had a basic gaming setup at home, and wanted to have something different.

"The industry of sim racing … aims to recreate exactly what the drivers feel in real life," he said.

For anyone looking to show up, Robinson recommends booking a full hour.

"It'll take you a few minutes just getting your settings right, sitting in front, making adjustments, whatever it is," he said. "You will not be able to enjoy a proper session from just booking a half hour, or even 15, 20 minutes."

Users sign in using a Steam account, and there are multiple racing simulators available, from Assetto Corsa Competizione to iRacing and more.

Avid sim racers who play on their home PC can sign into their game at Turn1 and continue a campaign using its equipment.

Kyle Benjamin, a senior employee at Turn1, has only dabbled with sim racing for a couple months, but he said he sees the difference when playing at Turn1.

"I believe it's because we get to use such quality equipment, where you get so much information back," he said.

"The experience, you can't match it to any of the entry-level equipment I would use. I tried some of the entry-level stuff … compared to this, it's almost hard to step backwards."

What makes now so appealing to open, Robinson said, is the rise of e-sports.

"The leaps and bounds that e-sports have made over the last four years," Robinson said. "The world just went through the pandemic, and instead of it being negative, it quadrupled the (sim racing) industry in two and a half years."

Sim racing falls under the e-sports umbrella, and it's an industry Robinson said is here to stay.

"The long-term plan, in general, is to have as many of these lounges in as many cities as we can," he said.

Robinson said Turn1 wants to add more equipment, such as motion rigs to provide more of an interactive racing experience. He's also looking at virtual reality.

Following the trend of downtown, Robinson said the business will be closed Mondays but open the rest of the week. But he added if there's enough demand, he's willing to come down and open up.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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