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|Developer(s)||iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations|
|Initial release||August 26, 2008|
220.127.116.11 / September 28, 2017
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux|
iRacing, previously IRacing.com is a subscription-based racing simulation released by iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations in 2008. Official races, special events, league races, and practice sessions are all hosted on the service's servers. The service simulates realistic cars, tracks, and racing events, and enforcing rules of conduct modeled on real auto racing events.
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iRacing only allows the use of a realistic cockpit view. As with real auto racing, the driver only has a view from behind the steering wheel. Most users use a force feedback steering wheel with gas, brake, and clutch pedals, as well as H-pattern shifters and/or sequential shifters. A gamepad can be used, though it is discouraged and puts the user at a competitive disadvantage. The gameplay is developed to mimic auto racing in as much detail as possible.
When a user begins their iRacing "career", they start with a Rookie-level license in both Oval and Road categories. In order to advance onto the "D"-level license and beyond, the user must complete a number of races with little to no accidents, off-track incidents, or losses of control. As the user achieves the higher-level licenses, they qualify to compete in different official series.
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. Week 13, in general, has a more relaxed attitude, with and emphasis on fun, rather than competition. Week 13 is often plagued with server issues, as the purpose of the week is for the implementation of software updates. 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.
Racing within the service is managed by a sanctioning body called FIRST. The detailed rules for official competition are published in the FIRST Sporting Code, which registered members of the service are expected to read. 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 "Leagues" where, for a fee, users manage their own league, recruit/accept drivers, and have automated scoring. 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.
The company behind iRacing.com, FIRST, LLC., 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.
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 announced a six-year extension of their agreement. iRacing.com also provides the software used in the NASCAR Hall of Fame simulators.
Dirt track racing
On April 1, 2017, the developers released with the hashtag #DIRTCONFIRMED a big new update for the simulator. It introduced dirt track racing to the simulator. The patch included new vehicles such as Dirt Super Late Model, Dirt Sprint and Dirt Street racing cars. Moreover, the developers acquired licenses of Eldora Speedway, Volusia Speedway Park, and Williams Grove Speedway. These three tracks, along with a revised, dirt version of USA International Speedway became the four dirt tracks on iRacing.
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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. The game offers a vast selection of tracks. 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.
The developers have established numerous partnerships with real-world racing organizations and series, including NASCAR, IndyCar, Supercars Championship, 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. 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 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 Ford Mustang FR500 and prototypes such as the Corvette Daytona Prototype.
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, the whole compliment of major NASCAR ovals such as Daytona International Speedway and a variety of short-track ovals such as Lanier and Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Subscription and operation
iRacing can only be played online on servers run by iRacing.com, and participation requires a subscription to the service. Additional cars and tracks are subject to additional one-time charges. As of February 2017, the subscription package includes a set of fourteen race courses with twenty-nine available configurations, a fictional skid pad (named Centripetal Circuit in the sim), and thirteen cars with which to practice and race.
iRacing.com was launched to the public on August 26, 2008. By July 2009 more than 16,000 individuals had subscribed to the service. The company said there were 50,000 members as of December 2013.
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 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.
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