With the right tools, sim racing can be one of the most immersive sporting experiences in all of the gaming sphere. It’s also a great way to escape from the real-world for a little bit.
You might find people who put tens of thousands of dollars into their rigs to get that ‘seat-of-your-pants’ feeling for essentially playing a racing video game, but to those with mobile disabilities, it’s not as simple as getting set up with a normal racing rig.
There have been examples of some fully-immersive handheld racing technologies existing before, but Team Fordzilla and Hi-Speed Simulations have some new accessibility-forward products on the market that is available for anyone in Europe to purchase.
The Ford Adapta HSB Adapts Steering Wheel is the focus of the reveal, as it contains the technology to put what would normally be utilized by foot control into the palm of your hands. The specialized wheel was unveiled on Wednesday (4th May) and retails for €990.00 on the HiSpeedSim website.
A collaborative effort from Hi-Speed Simulators and Ford Adapta, which in itself is a collaboration between Ford Spain and the ONCE Foundation, this wheel provides an integrated braking and acceleration system together with most of what you’ll find on any other system, such as buttons, switches, rotaries and means of up and down shifting.
Now, this wheel works with Simagic wheel bases natively, and will work on PlayStation and PC systems, per the website. Of course, with the proper adapters, it should be able to work with other Direct Drive bases. If a full setup is needed, there are three options that include the wheel plus an accessible setup.
The Adapted Simulator S is the base model. It’s a wheelchair-accessible platform with a single 32-inch monitor, delivering with a PlayStation 5 and a Simagic Alpha Mini base, but the PS5 can be swapped with a PC if preferred. This one starts at €3990.00 with 21 percent VAT included.
Starting at €5490.00, also with 21 percent VAT included, the ST Adapted Simulator is the next step up, featuring the same stuff as the previous model but with a PC setup built-in instead. A wireless keyboard and accompanying holder are included, and the PC is one of their ADAPTA Stage 2 computers with a remote power button.
Finally, the top end system is the Adapted Simulator RS and it retails for €6990.00 with 21 percent VAT included as well. This features a triple monitor setup, the non-mini Alpha Simagic base and one of their Stage 3 ADAPTA PCs, plus a few more add-ons such as a haptic system for user’s torsos and a Simagic SQ1 sequential gear changer.
I’ve always seen sim racing as an inclusive arena where anyone can compete, whether it be with a wheel, controller, keyboard, whatever. With options like these, it gives those with odds stacked more against them a more inclusive feeling, in my opinion. Granted, these are all quite expensive items, but it was likely a more expensive option when things needed to be custom-made.
I remember when former IndyCar star and current Michelin Pilot Challenge series driver Robert Wickens, who was injured in a horrific incident at Pocono Raceway in 2018, got into sim racing during his recovery, despite his spinal cord injury. It was great to see him pick it up as well as he did, but it definitely took some finagling to get him in a rig where he could comfortably and competitively compete.
In 2020, when the pandemic struck, Wickens was able to compete in some of the IndyCar Challenge events, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual with help from Max Papis and a modified MPI steering wheel. His career has now moved to Touring Cars, but he’s still able to compete while he continues to rehabilitate. He can still race again with modifying similar hand tech in the real-world environment.
The Ford promotional video for the product unveil features Cisco García, a former snowboarder who was injured while snowboarding. He’s since turned to Tennis, and is able to play in his modified wheelchair. García helped with the testing of the new Ford product, and shows his ability to use the wheel in the video above.
It is truly great to see Team Fordzilla continuing their charitable efforts, and it’s great to see further inclusivity among the sim racing community. What are your thoughts on this new accessible technology? Let us know down there in the comments.
Images thanks to Ford Europe and HiSpeedSim