Brent Cheney, a visual artist and automotive customizer, isn’t one to dream small. So when he set about building a virtual gaming rig to run iRacing, he looked beyond a racing seat and steering wheel. With plenty of open space in his unfinished basement, he thought a fullsize, real-life car would be just the ticket.

Speaking to Motor Authority, Cheney said he had a specific aesthetic in mind. His rig needed to be made from from something a gearhead might enjoy: “I’m not going to buy a 1999 Toyota Corolla four-door.” It also needed to be relatively common – the build would require lots of cutting and welding, so a rare and special commodity was off the table out of deference to history. After some brainstorming, Cheney decided a Mini hatchback would fit the bill, since blackout plastic on the roof pillars and black rocker panel trim would hide the cuts and rivets well. After finding a 2005 Cooper S with a suspicious engine tick on Craigslist, the basement racer was in business.

Mini Cooper S sim rig

Cheney acquired the poorly running Coop for $1,000, then parted out the unnecessary driveline and suspension components for the same price. He then set about removing the roof and drawing and quartering the rest of the car, cutting it into pieces small enough to transport to the basement. There, the Mini went back together on top of a custom-built wooden frame, courtesy of what we assume are hundreds of brackets and rivets. In went the original interior, complete with passenger and rear seats (we wonder why he didn’t remove them for weight reduction – yuk yuk). 

Mini Cooper S sim rig

Before reinstalling the interior, the whole car got wired up with a sophisticated home theater surround sound system. Other gaming hardware includes a Fanatec Podium DD1 steering column and wheel, Fanatec V3 pedals, and ButtKicker Mini transducer. The whole system runs on an Intel Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz eight-core desktop processor, SanDisk Ultra 3D 1-terabyte hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8-gigabyte Founders Edition video card, and other top-dollar PC gaming components, displayed on a Samsung CHG90 monitor. A center-mounted keyboard and iPad running SimHub provide control and information, while iPhone-controlled LED accent lights under the car give the whole thing a futuristic, floating appearance.

According to Motor Authority, the whole process involved about eight weeks of work and $6,500 cash. We can think of more expensive hobbies, and not many of them yield a product as impressive, aesthetically pleasing, and fun-looking as the new sim racing rig. The whole build process and a lengthy list of real-time racing videos are included on Brent Cheney's BasementGP YouTube channel, the name of which is a clever homage to Mini's hottest hatch.

Gallery: Mini Cooper S Simulation Racing Rig

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