Forza Motorsport 4: Week in Review 4/27/12
This week’s edition of the Week in Review begins last Saturday, as I was gripping the steering wheel of a Dodge Challenger SRT8 until my fingers cramped. I was digging into the first corner at the amazing Pacific Raceways—located in nearby Kent, WA—as part of the SRT Track Experience. And I had a smile about a mile wide on my face.
SRT Track Experience
Along with a few other Turn 10 folks, I was lucky enough to be invited to the SRT Track Experience for a chance to drive four tricked-out SRT vehicles around Pacific Raceways as part of the day-long Track Experience event. Two days prior, the SRT folks had brought a few SRT-model cars up to Turn 10 for the Forza team to check out up close and personal (and their kindness was repaid with a torrential downpour… thanks a lot, Seattle-area weather!)
Lucky for us, the weather in Kent was stellar last Saturday, sunny and warm and perfect for racing. Or, if not “racing”, then at least “driving very quickly”. There’s no wheel-to-wheel action during the SRT Track Experience, though there is plenty of competition. The idea is to get a feel for the range of SRT vehicles, learn what these amazing cars can do when unleashed on the track, and gain some insight and instruction from the driving instructors that lead the day-long program.
The day began bright and early at 8 a.m., with a brief introduction to the SRT team and a schedule of events that would take us throughout the day. Attendees were split into two groups who would tackle the day’s various driving events separately and then reconvene at the end of the day to receive individual and team trophies.
My group started off with the good stuff right away: actual track time. After being briefed on the rules of the road, we lined up, grabbed head socks and helmets, and waited our turn to try the various rides on hand. There were four vehicles to try out--Dodge Challenger SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, Chrysler 300 SRT8, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8—and each on-track grouping featured three cars of the same model with the front car being driven by a professional SRT driver and the two rear cars for attendees. When a new triplet of cars came your way, you simply got in the driver’s seat and took off behind the instructor.
As you might expect, we weren’t going at (or even near) the limit in the morning session. Instead, the goal was to get acclimated to the car as the day went on. Our speeds were kept modest by the instructor car in the early goings. The idea was to A) follow the line of the instructor’s car and B) keep a suggested three-car-lengths distance between the car in front of you—something that increased in challenge as speeds went up. As long as the instructor was happy with your progress, they’d keep upping their speeds.
And, just like that, two hours evaporated and we were off the track and on to the next event: autocross. Navigating tightly weaving sets of orange cones in a car like the Dodge Challenger is thrilling and difficult—doing so in a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is an absolute blast. The Jeep’s four-wheel drive system, complemented by its weight, its absolutely insane brakes (it can manage 60-0 mph in just over 110 feet), and its increased seat height made the cone course a thrill to drive. I still managed to knock over my fair share of cones (which incurred a penalty for each cone I hit) but I had a great time and ended up closer to the top of the event leaderboard than the bottom.
After our group had a chance to attack the autocross section, we broke for lunch and then headed back to the track. With some relatively significant time behind the wheel, I was probably not alone in feeling confident about my second go-round on the track and I promised myself to push the car as hard as I possibly could. My subsequent laps in all four of the cars were much improved. I drove harder, I pushed the car (and heard some significant tire squeal in spots) and I could feel the instructors giving us some more leeway with overall speed. I also managed to nearly break my hand from squeezing the steering wheel so hard; so much so that one of the instructors actively told me to “relax and breathe” when I was behind the wheel. But who’s got time to breathe when you’re gritting your teeth for an entire lap?
(Incidentally, as you can see in the above video of one of my laps, Pacific Raceways is truly a hidden gem of a track, with numerous challenging turns, an awesome front straight, and some thrilling elevation changes. If you’re anywhere near the area, you need to check this track out for yourself).
We ended our SRT Track Experience day with a head-to-head autocross event, with two drivers simultaneously tackling opposite ends of a cone circuit to see who can finish first. The only catch? Each driver was required to come to a hard stop in a specific braking zone halfway through the course; a fact I conveniently ignored during my first run, resulting in a shameful DQ. In retrospect, I just tell myself I was trying too hard, which is better than not trying at all, right? In the end, I ended up with two wins out of four runs, while one member of the Turn 10 team ended up with an undefeated 5-0 record and took home an individual trophy at the end of the day.
In all, it was an incredibly exciting day, bolstered by the gorgeous weather, the awesome cars, and the professionalism of the SRT folks who ran the event. If you’re an SRT fan, or even a prospective SRT buyer, this is an event you don’t want to miss. The SRT Driving Experience will be running through the summer and beyond (see here for the schedule). I’m already looking forward to the next time I can go. Who knows, maybe next time they’ll let us drive one of these!
May TopGear Pack
Earlier this week, we announced our next add-on pack for Forza Motorsport 4: the May TopGear Car Pack. The pack is arriving on Tuesday, May 1 for 560 MS points ($7) and will contain the following ten cars:
2012 Hennessey Venom GT
1977 AMC Pacer X
2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan
2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
1966 Lotus Cortina
1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
2012 Smart ForTwo
1990 Subaru Legacy RS
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8
1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII
Now, that’s as eclectic and varied a car list as you’re likely to find in any previous Forza Motorsport 4 add-on pack. Already I’ve had a great time murdering out my Smart ForTwo (black rims, black spoiler, black window tint… it’s as intimidating as it is economical!), and I can only imagine the kinds of livery masterpieces we’ll see adorning the SuperSportVan once the pack is out in the wild. Which car from the pack is your favorite? Let us know here!
Made For Mech – Week of April 22
This week’s “Made for Mech” challenge has been a fun one, but one that’s fraught with danger. Based on the “Forza Tourenwagen” Rivals Mode event in the Community Monthly channel, this event combines several challenging aspects: a race-tuned 2008 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG C-Class Touring Car (the car with perhaps the most dashes in its title of any Forza 4 car), the Hockenheim circuit, and copious amounts of DTM traffic to contend with. Nonetheless, you guys have risen to the challenge, and I’ve received a number of awesome tunes to try out, knocking off more than six seconds from my original time. Thanks to the following folks who created tunes that either moved me up the leaderboard or that I flat-out loved:
- Tarbouif 90
- VeX Chinchilla
With this contest winding down, we’ll fire up another "Made for Mech" challenge. This week, we’re heading to the Supercar Showdown event in the Open Time Attack channel, which takes place on the Bernese Alps track. We’ll be driving the love-it-or-hate-it 2011 Ferrari FF. I’ve got a 1:29.704 in a stock FF, now it’s your turn to help me improve that.
Want to get in on the fun? Put up a Ferrari FF tune in the Forza 4 storefront with the descriptor “MECHBERG FF”. Next week, I’ll download and try as many tunes as I can—those folks who create a tune that helps me improve my time (or for those who create a tune I simply love) will get a random unicorn gift send their way as a “thank you”. Good luck!
One more thing: Last week I put a call out for “Made for Mech” logos on the official thread and a few people responded with some cool logos. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Think you can do better? Let me see it in the “Made for Mech” thread.
Rivals Mode Descriptions
As always on the first Tuesday of each month, we’ll be putting up a new batch of Rivals Mode events in the Community Monthly channel of Rivals Mode. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect:
- The Taste of Venom: Your Hennessey Venom GT will shake the foothills of the Hakko Mountains as you attack Motegi in this purpose-built track monster. Each week, 100 randomly chosen players from this leaderboard will receive a 2002 BMW M3-GTR, a “unicorn car” only available from Turn 10. The May TopGear Car Pack is required to participate in this event.
- VIP May Rivals: This Rivals Mode event is open to Forza VIPs only. The car, track, and competition type were chosen by a series of polls conducted on the official Forza Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/forzamotorsport). This month, players will be driving European hatchbacks on the Top Gear Full Circuit. Be sure to cast your vote throughout the month of May for what will make up next month’s VIP Rivals Mode event.
- Truckin' Drag: Extreme power and weight make for a potent combination in an event that is decidedly not for the faint of heart. Tune your favorite heavyweight SUV to eat up the competition on the Top Gear half-mile. Tuning setups are allowed within restrictions.
- Rising Storm II: No track showcases the art of drifting better than Fujimi Kaido. Test your drifting skills in the ultimate RWD test. Tuning setups are allowed within restrictions.
- Easy Racers: Take a trip back to 1968 when Infineon Raceway (known as Sears Point back then) first opened its doors to host many legendary racing events. Tuning setups are allowed within restrictions.
- Autumn Fallout: Blow the leaves off the trees as you scream through the turns of Maple Valley in your A-Class sports car. Tuning setups are allowed within restrictions.In addition, we’re still taking votes for next month’s VIP Rivals Mode event. As always, head over to our official Facebook page to vote in the poll!
Finally, this week’s community bounty is a guy many of you know very well: Forza Community stalwart Snowowl has graciously volunteered to put himself in the line of fire and he’s got a sweet Bounty Hunter Modsquad-themed livery that you can win for taking down his time. So if you’ve ever dreamt about taking down Snowowl (and possibly being rewarded for it), now’s your chance. Check out his official Community Bountythread for all the details.
That’s all for this week. See you on Monday!