Outside of race weekends, motorsport fans will try and get their kicks in some way, shape or form. Some go to track days, others play the latest racing game on the PC or console. There are some dedicated people that create content for racing games and give to others for free. Dave Waters is an example of such a person.
Buckmore Park kart circuit in Kent is one of the busiest kart tracks in the country. Based near Chatham in Kent, the circuit has seen talents such as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button partcipate in race events and the circuit is a regular fixture on the calendar for national championships and arrive ‘n’ drive championships like Club 100. In its current form, the track is 1200m.
rFactor, a game created by developer Image Space Incorporated is one of the main driving games/simulators available on the PC format. Backed by a large fanbase, the modding community has been creating content for the game since its release in 2005.
Dave Waters, an a-level student from Essex decided to recreate Buckmore Park (his local circuit) for the rFactor game. Back in 2007 Dave won a copy of BTB in a competition. BTB is a piece of software which allows the creation and modification of motor-racing circuits in rFactor. As BTB developed into a fully functional product, in January 2010, Dave decided to sit down and use it to create a virtual Buckmore. Dave posted a topic about it on the kart circuit’s forum, to gauge enthusiasm from fellow karters and sim-racers.
A couple of months later he arrived at the circuit to participate in a race and race director Alan Wood came up to him.
“I turned up for a race at Buckmore and was taken aback when Alan Wood – race director and general good guy – told me that Buckmore would be willing to pay for my racing if I completed the work on the track for them! It turns out they had been looking for someone to make a version of the track for them to use in a simulator. My version of the track – I’m told – is more realistic than anything they could have had done for them professionally. This is basically a dream come true for me – I had been struggling to pay for my racing, so to have someone pay for for my racing in return for doing something I enjoy anyway was perfect!”
Recreating the track was time consuming for the 18yr student. To get a base to build the circuit layout upon, Dave used Google earth for an aerial photo of the track, taking close-up screenshots and importing them into Adobe’s Photoshop software. Once the images were merged, they were brought in to the BTB software and he could then trace the layout of the circuit. Once the layout was constructed, elevation changes were added. Elevation changes are key in the real life track, so despite lack of elevation data available, David spent hours of testing and fine tuning to get the track to resemble the differing heights of the track.
Progress of the track modelling was aided by Buckmore Park sending hundreds of high-resolution photographs to David. Each texture, including the tarmac, curbs, tyre barriers, buildings and trees was created and edited from scratch in Photoshop. Further help came from Ginetta Junior driver Jody Fannin and Chris Hanson who tested the virtual Buckmore and gave their feedback on curb height, bumps, and the amount of grip available.
Once the track was completed, an AIW needed to be made. An AIW affects how the computer cars drive around the track. Camera positions were also added for effect.
Released to positive reviews, David Waters’ Buckmore Park received 700 downloads in its first week. He intends to create more kart circuits for the rFactor series. I myself, would like to see my local circuit modelled into the game and believe it would be a good marketing tool for any kart track.
If you are a track owner and wish to recreate your circuit please get in touch.