I should say the majority of the DC's hardcore racing fans were not impressed with MSR either. Their preferences were Ferrari F355 and Sega Rally 2. I am an exception in this regard!
My default controller for playing MSR or Daytona USA 2001 is the Madcatz Dream Pad. In fact the only game I used the official controller on was Shenmue 1 (as it had compatibility issues with the Madcatz). I am also not a fan of the PS2 Dualshock for racing games (no analogue triggers) so I purchased a Ferrari PS3/PS2 pad that allows you to map the movements of the left analogue stick to its analogue triggers.