iRacing.com (iRacing for short) is an online, subscription-based racing simulation service for Microsoft Windows created by iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations. In addition to accurately modeled vehicles and tracks, iRacing provides servers on which to race and practice and a sanctioning body to organize and oversee competition within the service.
From the start, the company behind iRacing has marketed the service not only as entertainment but also as a training tool for real life racers. They have established numerous partnerships with real-world racing organizations and series, including NASCAR and Indy Racing League. Starting in 2010, iRacing will host an online racing series officially sanctioned by NASCAR. Other partners include SCCA, the Skip Barber Racing School, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup and the Star Mazda Championship, among others.
The service was launched to the public on August 26, 2008. As of July 2009, more than 16,000 individual members had signed up.
The company behind iRacing.com was established in Boston, 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 product will be constantly expanded and enhanced after the public launch.
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 damage modeling and gearbox simulation.
Many real life racers, including Justin Wilson, Alex Gurney and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 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.
Overview of the serviceEdit
The iRacing company aims to cater both to real-world racers and racing simulation enthusiasts, so they are trying to offer 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. There are several different subscription options available ranging from a monthly $19 fee to a year-long subscription for $156. The subscription packages include a basic set of tracks and three cars with which to practice and race, as well as a certain amount of iRacing credit that can be used, in addition to money, to buy additional car and track content, all of which is subject to charge.
iRacing manages sanctioned series for the different car types. Each calendar year is divided into four 12-week seasons for standard series, and all driving sessions in a series take place only on one track each week. On a given track, the drivers can participate in practice, qualifying, time trial and race sessions. There can also be non-standard series, examples of which are the four-week Rookie series.
The series are divided into two main categories, oval and road, which are further divided into several license levels from Rookie to Pro, and a driver must earn each license to be eligible to participate in race week sessions on that level. 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.
In addition to driving in the different race week sessions in sanctioned series, a player can use a test mode to drive alone on any track with any car, assuming he has purchased the license to use the content. However, private races or leagues aren't supported yet, and racing with other people is currently possible only within the sanctioned series and according to their predetermined weekly schedules.
Features in detailEdit
At the core of iRacing is the driving simulation. iRacing has a new, proprietary tire model that is partly based on the company's own research in a tire testing facility. They had full "shop access" to every vehicle modeled in the service to figure out physical and inertia parameters of individual parts. For aerodynamics data, they have had to rely on data collected from manufacturers and teams.
The simulation is still missing several features often found on comparable products. For example, environment conditions such as temperature are static, and clutch and transmission modeling is lacking.
Sanctioned racing and FIRSTEdit
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.
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 will be a year-long tournament with (in its first year) 35 clubs divided into 7 regions battling for the club championship.
The following clubs are competing for the championship in its first year:
|Northeastern||Massachusetts, New England, Connecticut, New York, Eastern Canada|
|Mid-Atlantic||Pennsylvania, Virginias, Atlantic, New Jersey, Ohio|
|Southeastern||Georgia, Florida, Mid-South, South America, Carolina|
|Central US||Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Midwest, Texas, Plains|
|Pacific||West, Northwest, California, Australia/NZ, Western Canada|
|Western European||England, Celtic, Iberia, France, Benelux|
|Central European||Italy, International, Germany, Scandinavia|
Pro Series and Drivers World ChampionshipsEdit
On March 3rd, 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. The two Pro Series are open to the top 250 drivers in 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, these top series will follow a 39-week schedule. The inaugural Pro season is an exception with a 25-week schedule.
Even though all on- and off-track conduct within iRacing is subject to the rules laid out in the Sporting Code, the service also has races that are not officially sanctioned by FIRST and are therefore open to members of all license levels. Currently such 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 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, 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.
Vehicles in iRacing are divided into six classes: Rookie, Advanced Rookie, Class D, Class C, Class B and Class A. They 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 following table lists all the vehicles currently featured in the service and the license levels of the series they are used in:
Note: a light blue background denotes that a car is included in the basic subscription
|Car name||License level|
|600 Racing Legends Ford '34 Coupe||Oval rookie / Road class D|
|Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Late Model||Oval class D|
|SK Modified (Modified racing)||Oval class D|
|Chevrolet Silverado (Camping World Truck Series)||Oval class C|
|C&R Racing Silver Crown (USAC)||Oval class B|
|Chevrolet Impala SS (Nationwide Series)||Oval class B|
|Chevrolet Impala SS (Sprint Cup)||Oval class A|
|Pontiac Solstice||Road rookie|
|Spec Racer Ford||Road rookie|
|Skip Barber Formula 2000||Road class D|
|Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup||Road class D|
|Star Mazda||Road class C|
|Radical SR8 V8||Road class B|
|Lotus 79||Road class B|
|Riley Technologies Daytona Prototype||Road class A|
Announced upcoming vehicles include the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R and various Ford race cars starting with the Mustang FR500S and the Doran Ford GT-R raced in the ALMS GT2 series. On August 22, 2009, iRacing announced a partnership with Indy Racing League, which will eventually bring the Dallara chassis of the IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights series to iRacing.
iRacing creates each track using proprietary Exactrac laser mapping technology to replicate the tracks with millimeter precision.
The following track venues are confirmed to be in the service:
Note: 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
- Roush, Jack, Jr. "Roush: A Look Back at Lime Rock". Grand-Am. May 28, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-04-10.
- Cole, Shaun & Gangi, Darin. (April 15, 2008). iRacing interview with Scott Mckee (Flash video). SRT Media Productions. Retrieved on 2009-04-10.
- Autosimsport 4 (2): 8-9, 19-30, April 15, 2008.
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