Since the first time I used a steering wheel for a racing game I instantly became a racing fanatic and far and away it became my favorite genre for gaming. No other gaming peripheral has ever offered me the level of immersion that a good FFB (Force Feedback) wheel does while playing any game. The only problem I encountered once I purchased my first wheel was what to mount it to. I went the normal route of using a desk which was okay for a little while but shortly after I wanted something that added a more visceral racing feel. Then the search to find the best way to mount my wheel began.
Over the years I have tried everything from DIY rigs to manufactured ones I ordered online. The problem I ran into was most DIY rigs I built were too bulky, heavy, and not very attractive (WAF – wife acceptance factor is extremely important to the sanctity of an any relationship, especially mine). Most of the manufactured rigs I purchased lacked flexibility, compatibility, adjustments, stability, and had various other shortcomings I could not deal with like a center post, cheap seats which became uncomfortable for extended gaming sessions, fasteners that cause visual imperfections on the chassis. The other big drawback is the lack of choices living in the States (USA). Most top quality rig manufacturers are over seas and the shipping cost to America can run nearly as much as the rig themselves.
In walks Carriage Works VRC 1000 – Virtual Racing Chair
A few months back I was going to pull the trigger on yet another rig from Europe to replace the current DIY rig I was using. The night I was about to place my order for this model overseas, I stumbled across, literally by accident, a rig built and manufactured here in America from a company called Carriage Works. They specialize in building car parts, grilles, rims, etc.
At first glance I thought this rig I stumbled across on this site was custom order only and not something I could readily order and receive in a week or two. Besides I had questions that I needed answered before placing an order to begin with so I contacted Carriage Works via email to inquire about this rig of theirs. I needed to know about its compatibility with my current hardware, the Thrustmaster T500 RS and more importantly the Fanatec CSR Elite Wheel which was brand new wheel to the market at the time I was going to place an order for this rig.
Matt Cunningham, lead designer of the VRC 1000, contacted me himself directly and informed me that their rig was not yet designed to accommodate the Fanatec line of wheels. He extended me the option to send my wheel to Carriage Works so they could take the needed measurements and laser cut their wheel deck to accommodate Fanatec products. They also did the same for the Thrustmaster T500 RS and TH8 shifter for this series wheel. I sent them the wheel and Matt kept me in the loop every step of the way. Sending me pictures and updating me on future accessories they have on the design table. Matt was as passionate and excited about designing this rig as most gamers would be to use it.
Usually I feel like a kid on Christmas morning when waiting the arrival of a new product to enhance my gaming experience, but after having already having exhausted several rigs in the past, my anticipation was even keel at best. Even though a couple of the previous rigs I tried would have pleased most users, I personally ended up disappointed over time with the functionality, durability and comfort for long gaming sessions. So when the UPS truck pulled up to my door I was definitely intrigued but not overly excited. The VRC 1000 arrived in 3 large boxes. The largest and heaviest box was the rig itself with the parts to fasten it together. Here’s what you’ll find in the boxes:
- Box 1 (Largest and heaviest box) – VRC 1000 Frame (practically assembled), Shifter Mount, Fasteners (nuts, bolts, etc) and the instructions to assemble the rig, seat and LCD stand.
- Box 2 – Racing Seat (color depending on which you choose)
- Box 3 – LCD Stand (optional)
Assembling the Rig:
Carriage Works might possibly be the best company I have ever dealt with when it comes to instructions and ease of assembly. They not only include an easy to follow step by step manual with colored pictures, but they also include a DVD that has an assembly video. How cool is that?
All the fasteners came in separate labeled bags for each part of the assembly stage which made it that much easier to get through the assembly process. There was nothing difficult about assembling this rig. I put together by myself in roughly 20 minutes but I do recommend having someone around to help mount the seat. I have assembled dozens of devices similar to this over the years so it wasn’t too difficult to figure a quick solution to mounting the seat by myself but I recommend, as does Carriage Works themselves, having someone around to lend a hand. So grab a friend or family member to be on the ready when it comes time to mount the seat.
This is where this rig really shines. Nearly every thing on this rig is adjustable. The seat sliders forward, back and tilts. It also allows for the three different height settings when attaching it to the seat to the rig during assembly. The front of the frame (yoke), which affects the height of the wheel base, can be set to varying degrees heights using the aluminum adjustment bars on each side of the rig. This adds a lot of versatility to find just the right height you prefer you wheel to be set. The wheel deck (bracket assembly the wheel is attached too) can be tilted up and down and also gives you the ability to move the wheel closer to you with a dual tier deck brackets plates and tensions knows under the wheel deck. The pedal plate (gas, brake and clutch pedals are attached) can be moved towards and away from you with tension knobs attached to the bottom of the front sides of the rig pedal plate. The only thing on this rig that is not adjustable is the shifter mount which is not a problem for me personally. I am 5’ 10” and this rig fits me like a glove.
As a result of all of these adjustability, my initial impressions were this is one of the most well thought out engineered rig I have yet to use. I found the sweet spot for me with in minutes of sitting in the rig for the first time by using the plethora of adjustments the VRC 1000 offer the user. About the only complaint I have, and it’s a small one, but I could see it affecting taller users, is the height of the pedal plate to the bend of the yoke frame height on the front of the rig. Initially I had my pedal plate set as far forward as it will go and my toes barely clear the bended 1 3/4” tubing of the front of the yoke itself.
Time to turn some laps:
Okay it’s here, it’s assembled, my hardware is mounted, all the adjustments are to my liking and it’s time to take this baby out for a test drive. From the minute I sat on the seat and grabbed on to the wheel, I felt like I was sitting in a car and almost forget I was actually in my gaming room itself. The level of immersion I felt from the minute I sat in this rig and completed my first initial lap I was in sim racing Nirvana. I knew this was money well spent and that Carriage Works created a rig that would be the centerpiece of my gaming room for many years to come. Seriously, once I found a good seating position and mounted my steering wheel, pedals, and gear shift, I completely blocked out my surroundings and I was only fixated on the screens (triple panel display) and trying to improve my lap times and cross the finish line first.
- Build quality – built like a tank with almost no wobble at all
- Appearance – elegant powder coat finish, looks like racing art
- Adjustability – This rig offers a plethora of adjustments
- Can’t rake pedals
- Shifter arm not adjustable
- Price – but you get what you pay for and this is money WELL SPENT for any serious racing fan
Bottom line, if you are a fan of racing games, you want a VRC 1000. This rig is the absolute best option at this price point and no other rig offers the same level of comfort, versatility and build quality. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives available, but no other option comes close to the VRC 1000 . It is in a league of it’s own and I doubt it will ever be outdone in it’s price point. If you’re serious about your racing immersion, you owe it to yourself to invest in the VRC 1000