TGS talks to Melvin Moh from the Legion of Racers

By davidkhoo, 17 August 2023

TGS talks to Melvin Moh from the LOR

Singapore - This author has never been big on racing sims because, like many of you petrolheads (I reckon), I'd rather be out and about in a real car.

However, with increasingly realistic rigs that simulate driving feedback, as well as the opportunity to sample a huge range of cars and tracks, we've quickly come to realise that sim racing has evolved beyond child's play to become an invaluable part in the development of any serious driving enthusiast.

We're at the Legion of Racers (LOR for short) premises at CT Hub in Kallang to chat with co-founder Melvin Moh (pictured) and watching a mesmerisingly dexterous demonstration by one of the young staffers piloting a W201 2.5-16 Evo 2 around the Sepang Circuit.

His fancy footwork, incisive reflexes and steering finesse are sheer poetry in motion. The impact is even greater when you consider his nonchalance as he talks us through the lap – one flying and a second, completely sideways!

It's all the more impressive considering we'd given it a shot earlier and alternated between over-braking... and then under-braking in what should have been a very familiar track to us.

For this n00b to sim racing, the feeling is almost alien, because I don't feel the gs or have any of the usual visual and physical cues of a real car.

Instead, you need to translate the feedback from the steering and the sound through the headphones into meaningful cues for braking, cornering, accelerating and shifting... and you need to be as committed and confident in your inputs as you would have to be in a real car.

However, the ability to learn, explore and experiment on a track (and car) in the virtual space means the high cost barriers to track driving are broken down, especially since access to a diverse catalogue of cars and circuits with which to build your muscle memory is now just a few mouse clicks away.

TopGear Singapore (TGS) : How did Legion of Racers come about?

Melvin Moh (MM) : Both my partner (Keong Wee) and I started Legion of Racers back in 2018.

We were racing competitively back then and given how expensive motorsports can be, decided to use Sim Racing as a platform to lower the barriers of entry into motorsports and at the same time grow motorsports.

TGS : When did you see there could be a potential demand for racing rigs?

MM : We knew there was potential for sim racing back then as there were already a few sim racing titles available.

We also saw that both software and hardware were getting more realistic and the gap between virtual and physical was getting closer.

For example, circuits are laser scanned into the games, the car's characteristics are similar to real life and also the hardware like the driving systems are getting more realistic from a force feedback standpoint.

TGS : The latest rigs and feedback quality create an arguably realistic driving experience. Can this replace driving a real car?

MM : At this point in time, my answer is no.

This is based on my experience on all the sim racing hardware products that I’ve driven so far, plus, you don’t really get the actual g-force a car produces on the sim.

However, it does give you a good sense on driving feedback like understeer or oversteer, and also learning circuits for example.

Having said that, you never know how far technology can go and we may achieve that real feeling of driving a real car in the sim in the near future.

TGS : How far has the racing sim come as a serious tool for the serious racer?

MM : If you look at the young drivers in F1 these days, for example, Max Verstappen / Lando Norris, they all grew up doing sim racing.

I think it is a good tool to keep you sharp when you are not driving on the track, and also it is a good tool to learn new circuits that you never been to before.

TGS : What are some of the types of people who come to your racebox?

MM : We see a good mix of people. We have kids/students, car owners, people who want to go to the Sepang Circuit for track days, corporate groups etc.

TGS : Are they mostly guys? Any couples on dates? Tell us more about your female clients.

MM : Most of our clients are guys, but having said that, we do have ladies bringing their partners to our Racebox to experience sim racing as well.

TGS : What do you have to say to people who think sim racing is just child's play?

MM : Most people who haven't experienced sim racing for themselves will always say it is just a game, like Daytona in Timezone for instance.

All I can say is you need to try it yourself to fully understand that it is proper simulation car racing, and the skills you learn are transferable to real life driving... and racing!

PHOTOS Lionel Kong

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