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DirtFish’s Trevor Wert on the school’s inclusion in DiRT 4, ties to Twin Peaks

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Stevivor sat down with Trevor Wert, Media Manager at the Snoqualmie, Washington-based DirtFish Rally School, to discuss the school’s inclusion in Codemasters’ DiRT 4, an in-school gaming lounge and the history of the the school’s site.

For those unaware, DirtFish sits on the former site of the Snoqualmie Mill, a location used extensively in Twin Peaks and its feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The school was digitally created as a learning centre for DiRT 4, successfully capturing the unique flavour of the site.

Steve Wright, Stevivor: You’re the number one rally school in the country and you still take the time out to honour the Snoqualmie Mill that came before you as well as the Twin Peaks fans that come for a gawk at the old Sheriffs’ Station. Is it safe to say that history is important to you? How does that work into DirtFish’s mission and brand?

Trevor Wert, Media Manager, DirtFish: If it weren’t for the mill that proceeded DirtFish, we wouldn’t have the 300+ acres that we have now that is conveniently located near Seattle. It is the last piece of property of its size in King County.

There is a lot of history on this property, including the fact that is was used as the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station, which is a great bonus and adds to the history. It’s kind funny — most people don’t know that our building was only used for the pilot of the first season before it was moved to a studio in LA. However, every Sheriff Station scene from the newest season was shot here. David Lynch sat outside my office directing for nearly a week straight.

We receive anywhere from 6-10 visitors per day who are “Twin Peakers”, simply coming to see where the show was shot and we have seen a significant spike visits since they announced the latest season.

Stevivor: DirtFish features quite heavily in DiRT 4 — can you take me through the process of collaboration? Did Codemasters visit the school or model it based on imagery? Was DirtFish able to provide feedback?

Wert: DiRT 4 was a pretty long process. Once the contract with them was signed, Codemasters actually came by DirtFish a little over four years ago to scan the property and take reference photos. From the time they did that until the time they started actually making the game, we had changed the livery and wraps on our cars, so that needed to be revised and approved by both side, plus we added more cars that were included in the game.

The actual approval process began in May of 2016 and continued for roughly a year. for about eight months straight, approving multiple different aspects. We were still approving car designs and gameplay on the DirtFish property after they had announced the release date!

Unfortunately, our instructors weren’t able to provide any feedback in terms of physics, but we knew Codemasters was going to do a great job since they had pretty much been spot-on with the physics in DiRT Rally from the previous year.

Stevivor: In addition to in-car programs, you’ve also got a gaming lounge. Can you take me through that? Is it meant to supplement practical learning or as a bit of fun?

Wert: [That was] another long process; a lot of different pieces that had to come together to make that happen.

We have had an older gaming lounge that featured the older DiRT games and some Forza games and we decided we wanted to take that to the next level. In collaboration with Xbox, Playseat and Logitech, we acquired the newest and best driving seats to mount a handful of Xbox One S consoles and Logitech steering wheel and pedal assemblies to.

There were a few different thoughts behind doing this; that our customers who are road/track racers use these types of simulators to help memorize the tracks that they will be racing at around the world. It is also a good tool to teach people a little bit more hand-eye coordination in a safe environment.

Finally, we host quite a few different corporate and events throughout the year and we wanted to be able to offer those companies an additional activity for their employees. We have also talked about starting a DirtFish iRacing team for some of our drivers to compete in online.

Stevivor: Which real life skills are best expressed through the likes of DiRT 4?

Wert: That’s a great question! With the little time that I have played it the skills that transfer the most are the braking techniques. Braking to induce weight transfer is the biggest focus in our classes here and it’s cool to see how those braking techniques transfer over and work so well in DiRT 4.

Stevivor: Local press was a bit negative upon your opening in 2010 — have you patched up relations with your neighbours since then? How, if so?

Wert: Luckily, that was long before my time here, so I didn’t see the backlash. However, I have seen some signs that were put up around the community to protest against DirtFish opening its doors. All of the people who were against it were under the impression that we would be opening a race track and that we would have loud race cars going full throttle every single day. This was not the case. Once people realized that wasn’t our intentions, some of them warmed up.

Being that DirtFish is in the city of Snoqualmie, we also have some fairly strict noise limits that we have to meet and we check all of our cars to make sure they will fall below the decibel limits. We have also done a lot over the last few years to support he community; whether it’s working with local charities, supporting the schools in the valley or taking part in the many celebrations that take place throughout the valley all year, we want to help the community in any way that we can.

While we are always working to increase our business each year, our hope is that by bringing more people to the valley other local businesses will also see an increase.

Thanks to Trevor for his time.

DiRT 4 is available on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4; we reviewed it here. DirtFish’s 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross track also featured in Project CARS 2we reviewed that title here.