In 2008, one of the fathers of modern day racing simulators Dave Kaemmer along with John Henry launched iRacing, an online simulator that matches laser scanned tracks with highly accurate race cars.
iRacing’s service quickly became a success with 16,000 subscribers only one year later. Today, five years after the service was launched President Tony Gardner says there are 50,000 active subscribers.
“Well from the majority owner’s perspective, John Henry, he was very disappointed when he heard Papyrus Racing Studios was closing down after being purchased. He was an avid fan of those racing games,” said Gardner.
While good numbers of subscribers and positive feedback are great ways to measure success, there are a few members on the service who are the best spokesmen. Drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Will Power, Justin Wilson and Scott Speed use the iRacing service.
“Dozens and dozens have told us that at a minimum, it has helped them learn a track much better so when they showed up for a race weekend they could focus much more quickly on racing versus learning the track. For others, they have taken the next step and told us it literally helps their race craft, learning the car, what garage setup changes do to the car, keeping sharp and even learning faster lines.”
With the number of users on the service, hundreds of different leagues using every car and track available have sprung up. iRacing has created its own NASCAR and Grand Prix Championships that pay $10,000 to the champion.
Global Racing Association administrator Joe O’Dell says that iRacing affords him the opportunity to race worldwide, without having to foot the bill.
“Real life racing takes a tremendous amount of time and money as it is, but to then travel to the world's greatest tracks for events? In real life very few can afford to race at Oulton Park one week and then Phillip Island two weeks later. Online racing brings me the best tracks the world has to offer, and some it doesn't offer anymore, at a price I can afford,” said O’Dell.
His league contains two major 8-week championships, the Global Touring Car Championship, utilizing the Kia Optima race car and the Global V8 Championship, which uses the Aussie V8 Supercar.
“Running a league takes a tremendous amount of time, work, and effort. There are articles to write, videos to shoot, websites to update, new drivers to recruit, driver conflicts to resolve, and the future of the league to plan. It is an interesting mix of IT, Sales, and Mediation. Great promoters make it look like the league runs itself. I get a lot of help from a couple of the drivers in my league and it makes it so much easier,” he said.
While being the president of iRacing doesn’t allow Gardner too much time to enjoy the sim, he admits his favorite combination of car and track is a fan favorite.
“In-sim on the oval side, I like the pack racing so any of the top NASCAR vehicles on the big tracks like Daytona, Talladega or Charlotte. On the road I like the McLaren GT 3 car with Suzuka,” he said.
For more information, or to register for iRacing here is the link.
And to join the Global Touring Car Championship visit here.