iRacing.com

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iRacing
iRacing.com logo
Developer(s) iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations
Initial release August 26, 2008
Stable release 2.19.3.25 / April 15, 2016 (2016-04-15)
Operating system Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux
Platform PC
Type Racing simulation
Website iracing.com

iRacing is an online, subscription-based motor racing simulation service for Microsoft Windows, Linux and OS X created by iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations. In addition to accurately modeled vehicles and tracks, iRacing provides servers on which to race, to practice, and utilises a sanctioning body to organize and oversee competition within the service.

From the start, iRacing has been marketed as both an entertainment service and a training tool for real life racers. The main rival of iRacing is Simraceway, another online sim.[1] They have established numerous partnerships with real-world racing organizations and series, including NASCAR, IndyCar, V8 Supercars, the SCCA, the Skip Barber Racing School, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, the new Formula Renault 2.0, the Star Mazda Championship, the Blancpain Endurance Series and McLaren F1 among others.[2][3]

The service was launched to the public on August 26, 2008. There were over 50,000 active members as of December 2013, and over 55,000 by late May 2015.[4]

Gameplay[edit]

The iRacing company aims to cater both to real-world racers and racing simulation enthusiasts[5] by offering a realistic simulation of motorsport with accurate track, vehicle and physics modeling,[6][7] and with all of the cars and tracks officially licensed.[8] iRacing can only be driven online on servers run by iRacing.com, and participation requires a subscription to the service. As of March 6, 2016, the subscription package includes a set of twelve race courses with twenty-seven available configurations, a fictional skid pad (named Centripetal Circuit in the sim), and fourteen cars with which to practice and race.[9] Additional cars and tracks are subject to additional one-time charges. Vehicles in iRacing are divided into classes[10] which correspond to the identically named driver license classes, except for the two different Rookie car classes which can both be driven with the same Rookie driver license.

The simulator is launched through a member website, and there is no standalone offline client. In addition to choosing the series and session to run, the member site interface can be used to browse series and driver statistics, acquire information about the cars and tracks, keep track of friends & join them in their session, launch the online forums and chat, open the replay viewer, customize the virtual vehicles and helmets, purchase new content, and review and update personal account data.

Third-party software also provides additional features; for example "Trading Paints", which hosts custom paint schemes much more detailed and advanced than the customisations available on the website. Another is "LiveRaceStats", which allows users to have a signature bar displaying their iRacing game statistics. Rather than objecting to these external sites, iRacing actively supports their use by the community. An API is provided for third party extensions such as fuel managers, shift lights, live timing and telemetry, however direct modification of core game files is forbidden.

iRacing run several different official series, but members are also free to organize their own online sessions that are hosted on servers run by iRacing. In 2012, iRacing increased the ability for users to run their own seasons through the introduction of the "Leagues" feature where, for a fee of $10 a year, users could manage their own league, recruit/accept drivers, and have automated scoring. Individual hosted sessions cost $0.50 per hour to host. Any member-organized sessions are free from the license level restrictions. In addition to taking part in the different public sessions, a member can use a test mode to drive alone on any track with any car, assuming he has purchased the license to use the content.[11]

For the standard official series managed by iRacing, each calendar year is normally divided into four 12-week seasons, with all driving sessions in a series taking place on one track for each week during the 12 week seasons.[12] Drivers can participate in practice, qualifying, license time trials, and race sessions. The week between each season is referred to as "week thirteen", and has its own set of series which change track each day. During Week 13 drivers cannot complete time-trials, and so cannot add to their licence level.[13] There are also non-standard series, examples of which are the four-week Rookie series, IndyCar, Skip Barber and Grand-Am Premier series, and Pro series.[14] Races that are organized by members do not have to follow any official schedule. The series are divided into two main categories, oval and road, which are further divided into several license level series from Rookie to Pro, and a driver must earn each license to be eligible to participate in official race week sessions at their license level. If not qualified for the correct license for a series, drivers can still participate in practice sessions.[15] Earning a higher license involves both participation in competitions on a driver's current highest license level and achievement of a minimum safety record. The requirements for advancing and the licenses themselves are category-specific — in other words, a driver has a separate license for road and oval categories.[16]

At the core of iRacing is the driving simulation. iRacing began with a new, proprietary tire model that was partly based on the company's own research in a tire testing facility. On June 22, 2011, iRacing began a limited release of a new theoretical tire model which had been in development for three years. This new model used the construction and physical properties of the tire to simulate the tire's response, rather than matching to empirical data.[17] iRacing receive full "shop access" to every vehicle modeled in the service to calculate physical and inertia parameters of individual parts. Vehicles are either laser scanned or CAD data is used to recreate the visual and physical properties of each car. For aerodynamics data, they have had to rely on data collected from manufacturers and teams,[18] though more recent additions have used computational fluid dynamics to calculate the aerodynamic properties of the cars more accurately. The simulation is criticized for missing some features often found on comparable products; for example environment conditions such as temperature are static, though dynamic temperatures are in use as of July 2015.[19] Racing within the service is managed by a sanctioning body called FIRST. The detailed rules for official competition are published in a document titled the FIRST Sporting Code, which registered members of the service are expected to read.[20]

iRacing recently announced on April 1, 2016 that they would be adding Dirt Racing before the end of 2016 with partnerships from UNOH and Clint Bowyer Racing.

Laser scanning[edit]

iRacing copies real-world tracks using Exactrac LIDAR laser scanning technology, which scans the tracks with millimeter precision into the in-game 3D mapping environment.[6] This technology has made iRacing very accurate in bump mapping, which increases the feel of realism. The Extrac scans are used to create a 3D mathematical model of the track, complete with every millimeter bump and wrinkle on the real-world track. This results in "bumps" in the simulator track which are exactly the same as the bumps on the real-world track.

iRacing's level of realism has led to its use as a training tool for professional drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Jordan Taylor, and Travis Pastrana. This detail level also allows drivers in-game to use the same "racing lines" as real-world drivers, adding to the realism of training. As of April 2010 more than half of the then current Indycar series drivers used iRacing for fun and training. Vitor Meira and Will Power have also said they used iRacing in their recovery from broken backs sustained in the 2009 season.

One benefit of the technology has been the scanning of tracks which were no longer in use, such as historic track layouts, or were about to be abandoned or destroyed.[21]

Dynamic tracks[edit]

iRacing.com's September 8, 2015 update brought about its first implemation of dynamic surface modeling. This allows for constantly changing track surface conditions throughout the course of a session which are calculated via server-side algorithms that aggregate the data provided by each user's interaction with track surface as well as current the weather and lighting conditions. The track's calculated surface conditions are then broadcast to each user as they change throughout a race session. Modeled variables include rubber build up, track temperatures, and marbles off of the racing line.[22]

Competition, events and championships[edit]

Competition is divided into two different categories, oval and road, which are further divided into many different series. All standard series follow a calendar of four 12-week seasons. At the end of each season eligible drivers are promoted (or, in rare cases, demoted) to the next license level. At the end of each standard 12-week season FIRST crowns racing and time trial overall champions and divisional champions.[20] In addition to individual championships FIRST sanctions club championships, which are decided between geographically-based clubs.

Starting in 2009, The World Cup of iRacing became a year-long tournament with (in its first year) 35 clubs divided into 7 regions battling for the club championship.[23] The World Cup concept was dropped by iRacing at the conclusion of the 2011 season, before being reborn by a committee of members shortly afterwards, taking a different approach. Under the original system, club DE-AT-CH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) were undefeated, winning the title three years in a row.

Other series are officially sponsored by the real-world sanctioning body of the race series being simulated, including NASCAR which sanctions the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. In 2012, the iRacing IndyCar Premier Series failed to return, however, the Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series was added, where the winner was awarded a three-day racing school experience.

iRacing World Championship Series'[edit]

On March 3, 2009, iRacing announced its premier series, the iRacing Pro Series and iRacing Drivers World Championships to start in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Both top series have separate contests for oval and road course racing, and the world champion wins prize money of at least $10,000. The two Pro Series are open to the top 61 drivers in the A-level series for each category and serve as feeder series to the Drivers World Championships, which will be limited to the top 50 drivers. Unlike the standard individual championships, which have four 12-week seasons per year, the Pro Series (NASCAR iRacing Pro Series for ovals and iRacing Pro Series - Road for road) and iDWC (NASCAR iRacing.com World Championship Series for ovals and iRacing.com Drivers World Championship Road Racing for road) will follow an 18-race schedule run fortnightly.[24] The inaugural Pro season was an exception with a 25-week schedule.[25]

NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series powered by iRacing.com[edit]

Sponsored by Peak Antifreeze, and Sanctioned by NASCAR and iRacing.com, the NASCAR Peak Antifreeze series is the top level oval-racing championship on iRacing. The series uses digitally modeled NASCAR Cup Series cars, and features intense competition in the qualifying process leading to an annual 18 event competition with the grand prize being a NASCAR presented championship ring and $10,000 cash.

iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series[edit]

iRacing's other main series is the IRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, where up to 35 drivers will compete in a virtual model of the 2015 McLaren F1 car, the MP4/30. From 2010 to 2014, when the series originally started, iRacing used a model of the Williams-Toyota FW31 for this series. Currently, there have only been two champions, Greger Huttu (Finland 2010, 2012-2015) and Hugo Luis (Brazil 2011).

Blancpain GT Series[edit]

The inaugural 2016 Blancpain GT Series features team racing in a variety of GT3 cars over the course of 8 races varying in length from 3-6 hours. Sanctioned by iRacing and Blancpain, the championship includes over $25,000 in cash and prizes.

Other Series[edit]

Other series include the iRacing World Tour, which consists of a number of special events that mimic real life races like the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500. The virtual counterparts are usually held the day before the actual race. Members can organize their own online sessions that are free from the official series schedules and license level restrictions. These sessions are hosted by iRacing and they are subject to a nominal fee paid only by the member organizing the session. Other unofficial events include the so-called "24 Heures du Fun" races that feature different tracks and vehicles every Saturday 00:00-24:00 UTC as well as week-long unofficial series during the one-week breaks between 12-week standard seasons.

Development[edit]

The company behind iRacing.com was established in Bedford, Massachusetts in September 2004 by David Kaemmer and John W. Henry after the demise of Papyrus Design Group, which Kaemmer had also co-founded.[26] The iRacing service has been in development since then, using code from Papyrus' NASCAR Racing 2003 Season as a starting point. According to Kaemmer, iRacing retains the multi-body physics system of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, as well as some of the track presentation and multi-user packet code, but everything else has been changed, or is completely new like the tire model and graphics engine.[18] The service receives regular updates between 12-week competition seasons.[8]

In May 2009 NASCAR and iRacing.com announced a five-year deal of an online NASCAR-sanctioned racing series and on February 13, 2015 iRacing.com announce a six-year extension to their agreement.[27] iRacing.com also provides the software used in the NASCAR Hall of Fame simulators.[28]

Content[edit]

While the licenses to 15 cars and 14 tracks offering a total of 23 track configurations are provided in the subscription's base content, users must purchase individual licenses for each additional vehicle and track that they wish to drive. As of July 5, 2016, there are 57 vehicles on iRacing.com's simulation as well as 74 tracks offering a combined total of 216 different track configurations. This total includes two of the tracks on the service that have been rescanned and reproduced (Daytona and Phoenix) because of modifications made to the track since they had originally been produced for iRacing, two 'Tech Tracks' (New Jersey Motorsports Park and Long Beach Street Circuit) which are available for test driving and hosted sessions while they are in an incomplete state, as well as iRacing's one fictional 'track' which is a skid pad called 'Centripetal Circuit' which is meant for use in acquiring data about your vehicle's dynamics.

Staying true to their focus on remaining a motorsports simulation, the vehicles on iRacing.com are almost exclusively digital models of purpose built race cars as opposed to street legal sports cars or supercars and all of the content is produced using a combination of laser scan data, CAD data, live audio samples, and thousands of photographs to be as faithful a digital reproduction as possible within their means.[29]

The service pursues providing a balanced variety of simulated racing disciplines in order to reach a broad audience of race fans. Categories of vehicles available include open wheel cars such as Formula 1 cars like the McLaren-Honda MP4-30, many American stock cars such as those used in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series, Xfinity Series, and Camping World Truck Series, Australian V8 Supercars, several GT3 cars used in the Blancpain series such as the Audi R8 LMS GT3, trainers such as the Skip Barber or Legends Ford, sports cars such as FR500S Ford Mustang, prototypes such as the Corvette Daytona Prototype, and more.

A variety of tracks of are available in the service to support competitions for the diverse selection of cars such as classic grand prix tracks like the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, lesser-known club tracks such as Oran Park Raceway and Summit Point Motorsports Park, iconic tracks such as the Mount Panorama Circuit and the Nürburgring, the whole compliment of Major NASCAR ovals such as Daytona International Speedway, a variety of short-track ovals such as Lanier and Indianapolis Raceway Park, and much more .[30][31]

Tracks currently used in iRacing[edit]

Country Included in basic subscription Included with further payment
Australia 3
Belgium 2
Brazil 1
Canada 2
France
Germany 2
Italy 2
Japan 1 2
Netherlands 1
United Kingdom 4
United States 8 40
Fictional 1

Cars currently used in iRacing[edit]

iRacing currently holds sanctioned series for many different classes and types of cars.[32]

American Stock Cars[edit]

Open Wheel Cars[edit]

Prototype Cars[edit]

Sports Cars[edit]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 79/100[33]
Review scores
Publication Score
PC Gamer (UK) 80%
GameStar 68%

iRacing.com was launched to the public on August 26, 2008.[34] By July 2009 more than 16,000 individuals had subscribed to the service.[35] iRacing.com has received favorable reviews from automobile, racing and gaming magazines as well as websites dedicated to racing simulators.[36][37][38][39] The service has also been criticized for not yet including features often found on other racing simulators, such as dynamic environments and more advanced visual damage modeling.[19] PC Gamer stated that the game was "not one that will be to everyone's taste", while Gamestar back in 2009 concluded "The graphics give the impression of an unfinished beta, but at least the atmosphere between the players is always friendly."

Many real life racers, including the late IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, Alex Gurney, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex, Jr., A. J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed, Shane Van Gisbergen, Divina Galica and F1 and Indy 500 Champ Jacques Villeneuve have subscribed to the service and given positive comments especially about the accuracy of the track modeling which makes the simulator useful as a tool for learning tracks.[40][41]

Virtual reality[edit]

On February 6, 2013, Steve Myers of iRacing announced that the developers of iRacing had two Oculus Rift headset development kits either in hand or pre-ordered.[42]

On July 23, 2013, preliminary support for the Oculus Rift VR Headset Development Kit has been added.

On November 12, 2014, iRacing released preliminary support for the positional tracking on Oculus Rift's DK2 VR Headset.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "iRacing.com Introduces Next-Generation Training Tool for Racers". truckseries.com. July 25, 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  2. ^ "Volkswagen announces partnership with iRacing.com to aid in Jetta TDI Cup driver training and candidate identification". iRacing.com. April 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  3. ^ "Partners". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  4. ^ "iRacing.com adds Monza". iRacing.com. December 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-23. 
  5. ^ "iRacing.com FAQ". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  6. ^ a b "Track Technology". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  7. ^ "Car Technology". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  8. ^ a b Denton, Jon (February 15, 2008). "iRacing.com Announce: Revolution" (Flash). AutoSimSport 4 (1): 19–30. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  9. ^ "Membership". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  10. ^ "2.10. Vehicle Classes". FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  11. ^ Cole, Shaun (Director) (June 5, 2008). Preview - iRacing (Flash video). SRT Media Productions. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  12. ^ "4.2. Sanctioning". FIRST Official Sporting Code (PDF). iRacing.com. August 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  13. ^ "4.5. Sessions". FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  14. ^ "4.2.5. Rookie Series". FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  15. ^ "2.9. Series Eligibility". FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  16. ^ "2.2. Earning a FIRST License". FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  17. ^ "The Sticking Points in Modeling Tires". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  18. ^ a b Denton, Jon (August 2008). "The Masters of Mass." (PDF). AutoSimSport 4 (4): 21–34. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  19. ^ a b Vasilakos, Aristotelis (June 2008). "iRacing: The Physics" (PDF). AutoSimSport 4 (3): 33–38. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  20. ^ a b FIRST Official Sporting Code. 
  21. ^ "Oran Park". iracing.com. iRacing.com M.S. LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2015. Oran Park lives forever on iRacing.com even though it fell to the wreckers’ ball and bulldozers in 2010 to make way for a housing development. 
  22. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGF4iOSRt8I
  23. ^ "The World Cup of iRacing 2009 Official Guidelines" (PDF). iRacing.com. 2009-01-19. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  24. ^ "JForum - Java Discussion Board". Members.iracing.com. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  25. ^ "The iRacing Pro Series and iRacing Drivers World Championships" (PDF). iRacing.com. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  26. ^ "History". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  27. ^ http://www.iracing.com/nascar-iracing-com-announce-six-year-licensing-extension
  28. ^ Bob Pockrass (May 19, 2009). "NASCAR inks deal with iRacing.com to develop online racing series". SceneDaily.com. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  29. ^ "Cars". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  30. ^ "Tracks". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  31. ^ "Oran Park Raceway and Circuit Zolder Join iRacing". iRacing.com. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  32. ^ "iRacing.com Cars". iRacing.com. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  33. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/iracing
  34. ^ "iRacing Launches Advanced Motorsport Simulation and Internet Racing Service: Driver Development Tool Now Available to Auto Racing Community and General Public". iRacing.com. August 26, 2008. Archived from the original on September 9, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  35. ^ Eric Fisher (July 27, 2009). "Taking aim online". SportsBusiness Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  36. ^ Lerner, Preston (December 23, 2008). "Virtual Car Racing - iRacing". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  37. ^ Lear, Scott R. (November 2008). iRacing Demo (Flash video). Grassroots Motorsports Magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  38. ^ Toivonen, Ismo (February 2009). "iRacing.com: Kumartakaa uutta mestaria". Pelit (in Finnish) 2009 (2): 36–39. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  39. ^ Lindblad, Jens (June 9, 2008). "iRacing". SimHQ.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  40. ^ Kirby, Gordon (December 22, 2008). "The Way It Is/ Exploring iRacing with Gurney, Wilson and Villeneuve". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  41. ^ "The Fountain of Youth | inRacingNews.com". Iracing.com. 2010-12-11. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  42. ^ "Oculus Rift VR Headset Announcement". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]