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L.A. Auto Show lets you test cars on racetracks -- in video games

December 4, 2009 | 11:09 am

There wasn't a Wii in sight at the automakers' booths during the Los Angeles Auto Show's press days Wednesday and Thursday.

But there was an Xbox 360, games on iPods and a couple of custom-built driving simulators hooked up to snug-fitting racing seats and leather-wrapped, video-game steering wheels on the showroom floor.

Our sister blog, Money & Company, covered the use of video games at the L.A. Auto Show to lure attendees into the booths of manufacturers and hopefully keep them there awhile.

Check it out...


The scene is reminiscent of teenage boys standing around an arcade machine watching a friend play Donkey Kong or Street Fighter.

There are long lines and laughter and cheers rumble from those huddled around the gaming screens.

But here at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the boys are grown men, many wearing suits, and this isn't Donkey Kong. 6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a706b68a970b-800wi

It's a driving simulator video game at the Lexus booth. Or the Ford booth. Or the Hyundai booth. Or the VW booth.

Carlos Curling, a 21-year-old student at the Academy of Art University, waited in line with his industrial and automotive design professors Antonio Borja and Hideki Masuda for a go at the Lexus IS F driving simulator.

Each took a chair in the three-player setup, complete with leather racing seats matching those available in the IS F and paddle shifters on the steering wheel of the $75,000 gaming system.

Curling took first place, leaving his teachers behind in the digital dust.


-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photos, from top: People line up and watch as show visitors play the Lexus IS F driving simulator at the Los Angeles Auto Show; an over-the-shoulder view of the Lexus IS F simulator. Credit: Nathan Olivarez-Giles /Los Angeles Times.