Spotlight on… – Jim C Russell & Rob Russo (SloBros)
The man behind the wheel: a short interview with Sim Racing System racers. Let’s know a little more of the guys that are always one place ahead.
Would you briefly introduce yourself for the site’s readers?
JCR: Hi, my name is Jim C Russell, no, not that Jim Russell. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, and if I might say, any Firefighters/first responders out there the world over, THANK YOU! I haven’t worked in a while and don’t intend to ever start again.
RR: I live on the West Coast of California near San Francisco. I’m semi-retired and work from home keeping a small construction crew busy. Gives me lots of time to practice and race (all in VR).
How did you get up together as SloBros?
JCR: I can’t remember how the name came up, it just seemed to apply then and now! There were other SRS members belonging to teams, TPC, now sadly depleted, being the most notable back in the old days. So, when we started skinning cars we needed a name, SloBros.
RR: It’s all Jim’s fault! Four years ago he gave me a partially working wheel to get started: no left paddle and the pedals needed fixing. Once I got it working we ended up on SRS to try online racing. Very fun and a great crowd to be a part of. Jim coined the name “SloBros” (probably after our early online attempts to race) and I made it stick by using it for a team name on car skins.
What’s your racing wheel?
JCR: Fanatec DD1, PT-1 or V3 pedals depending on which ones are broken, various other bits.
RR: Thrustmaster T300RS and Fanatec CSV3 pedals, shifter.
Which are your favourite simracing games?
JCR: Assetto Corsa by far. SRS and the ability to make it personal and the fresh input of new cars and the occasional new track. The force feedback and non-issues with VR. Previous to AC my sim experience was limited to F1 by Codemasters. Was just getting into Wreckfest with my grandson when the ‘vid hit.
RR: Mainly Assetto Corsa. The force feedback in Assetto has not been matched by other games I’ve tried (Assetto Corsa Competizione, Raceroom, Automobilista 2). My test is to feel if the tires grip and skip on the road – that gives me the best indication that I’m about to lose it! Plus the sheer volume of car and track mods, adding Content Manager, and skinning cars, puts it at the top of my favorites.
“I somewhat enjoy trying to catch up when knocked to the back of the pack.”
JCR: 427 Cobra, Porsche GTA, Mazda 767B, Porsche 718 RS Spyder, Lotus 98T.
RR: Shelby Cobra, DRM cars, Porsche 962 Shortail, Chevrette, Russell-Alexis, Porsche 718 Spyder.
JCR: Mugello, Thomson Road, Bridgehampton, Fuji 68, Feldbergring, Mosport, Riverside.
RR: Fuji 68, Longford, Ebisu East, Feldbergring, Thomson Road, Frankenstein (try it with fast cars).
Since when are you playing simracing games?
JCR: After they invented the wheel, G27 and Codemasters F1 in 2009 the first “real” sim. Dropped F1 when AC/VR entered the picture in 2016. Have tried to flat screen with F1 2020 but it just isn’t the same.
Which was your first racing game ever?
JCR: 1984/5: pretty sure it was called Indy Car or Indianapolis on a Commodore 128D, with 5 1/4 floppies (not to be confused with flappy paddles). Had 128KB of RAM. Joystick control.
RR: Test Drive (1987) w/joystick only– had fun but didn’t continue with the gaming trend (because work, child, and all that stuff happens).
“It is frankly amazing how close we are in lap times in almost all the cars we race.”
How do you prepare for a race and/or a championship?
JCR: Practice. Some AI, especially start and first lap, and full race fuel check. Generally prefer live practice. I lean towards the one-off races, as SRS often introduces more challenging and sometimes new mods in this format and will put in many laps. I enjoy practice. And remember: SloBros Servers “we almost always get it right”.
RR: I usually do ghost car hotlaps to learn the braking points in the turns, then start mid-pack in AI races to prepare for crowds of cars, the start, how close you can get, multi-wide racing etc. And at least one full AI race to monitor the tires, fuel check, and my ability to pay attention (!).
Are you good in setupping cars? 🙂
JCR: Working on it. We share our setups and tips while practicing and keep trying to figure it out. I occasionally refer to Steam’s Virtual Race Car Engineer when completely confused. The Setup Market is sorely missed.
RR: No, still trying to learn as I go. The various setup charts are helpful, but knowing what changes can affect something else is the trick to balancing it all out.
“My strongest point in racing is patience – alright, vulturism, call it what you will.”
Do you race in real life too?
JCR: I raced RD 400 Yamaha 2 strokes in 1979/80 at Loudon Raceway in New Hampsire (USA). It was converted to New Hampshire International and is a NASCAR oval now. Learned to respect the asphalt. Moved to Santa Cruz and planned on running an MX5 trackcar at Laguna Seca, bought AC on a whim to practice shifting, found online racing with NAGP (North American GP), found I was way out of my league (surrounded by aliens). Realized that not only was AC online a whole lot safer, but at a dramatic cost reduction!
RR: No, except to make the green light…
What you do like and what you don’t like in SRS races?
JCR: T1 the anticipation / T1 and reading in the chat when drivers let us know “Gee this is a hard track/car combo, probably ‘shudda’ practiced”.
RR: Pros: It’s automated, easy to sign in, hourly races, good schedules and varieties, a (relatively) good skin app, and YouTube streaming. And you get Internet Points just for showing up! Cons: Mostly incident evaluations, but knowing how easy they are to get makes me a better driver… so can’t really complain!
Which are your strongest and your weakest points in racing?
JCR: Patience – alright, vulturism, call it what you will. I love to lurk when I can’t catch up. So many weaknesses: other than corners, probably starts and 1st lap aggression (or lack of). Oh, not being able to follow the exact racing line lap after lap is a constant gripe.
RR: Relentless – I tend not to quit in a race, and somewhat enjoy trying to catch up when knocked to the back of the pack. Overdriving – While trying to catch up after being knocked to the back of the pack. 🙂
How would you define your racing style?
JCR: Curb climber, apex hugger, defensive driver.
RR: I’d say “intense but cautious” – I’ve learned being too aggressive will usually end (with me) getting into trouble.
Who’s the slowest brother of SloBros?
JCR: All depends on the car. It is frankly amazing how close we are in lap times in almost all the cars we race. But each time we race together, I really only have one desire, finish in front of him.
RR: Well, that would be me since Jim has been driving sims much longer than my four years. We’re pretty close overall on times these days, but it isn’t quite second-nature to me, yet, like setting up for good entry/exits in the turns (which, I suppose, pretty much defines the whole race 🙂 ).
Thanks to Rob and Jim for kindly answering our questions. We all will be “apex huggers” and “intense but cautious” from now on!