|Developer(s)||iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations|
|Initial release||August 26, 2008|
|Stable release||126.96.36.199 / October 8, 2015|
|Operating system||Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10, OS X, Linux|
iRacing.com 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 & to upgrade licenses, and 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. 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 Star Mazda Championship, the Blancpain Endurance Series and Williams F1 among others.
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.
The iRacing company aims to cater both to real-world racers and racing simulation enthusiasts by offering a realistic simulation of motorsport with accurate track, vehicle and physics modeling, and with all of the cars and tracks officially licensed. iRacing can only be driven online on servers run by iRacing.com, and participation requires a subscription to the service. The subscription package includes a basic set of 10 tracks and seven cars with which to practice and race. Additional cars and tracks are subject to additional one-time charges. Vehicles in iRacing are divided into classes 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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, 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. 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.
iRacing copies real-world tracks using Exactrac LIDAR laser scanning technology, which scans the tracks with millimeter precision into the in-game 3D mapping envioronment. 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, 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.
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.
Competition, events and championships
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 while rookie series have their own 4-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. 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. 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.
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. The inaugural Pro season was an exception with a 25-week schedule.
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.
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. 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. The service receives regular updates between 12-week competition seasons.
There are currently in excess of 40 vehicles available on iRacing.com's simulation. While the licenses to seven cars are provided as part of the base content, users must purchase individual licenses for each additional vehicle.  Announced upcoming vehicles include the Dallara chassis raced in the Firestone Indy Lights series, the Honda HSV-010 GT, NGTC Honda Civic raced in the British Touring Car Championship., the Aston Martin DBR9 the Vantage GT3, and the 2015 Mclaren MP4-30 Formula 1 car .
Many track venues are available in the service or have been officially announced as a future venue.[Note 1] The game features classics such as the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, and also features lesser-known tracks such as Oran Park Raceway.
- A light blue background denotes that a track is included in the basic subscription. A yellow background denotes that a track is not yet available. A light green background denotes a tech track.
iRacing.com was launched to the public on August 26, 2008. By July 2009 more than 16,000 individuals had subscribed to the service. iRacing.com has received favorable reviews from automobile, racing and gaming magazines as well as websites dedicated to racing simulators. 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. PC Gamer stated that the game was "not one that will be to everyone's taste", while Gamestar 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 Justin Wilson, Alex Gurney, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex, Jr., A. J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed, Shane Van Gisbergen, Divina Galica and 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.
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.
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