Want to race against Dale Earnhardt Jr, or former Formula One pilot Scott Speed? Check out iRacing.
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.
“Additionally, he also was annoyed with the traditional short comings of sim racing when it came to centralized competition among many other things and also saw that as an opportunity to create something new and bring sim racing to a whole other level. He contacted Dave Kaemmer, legendary programmer, simulation guru and CEO of Papyrus and they hit it off. They had a shared vision, decided to partner up and iRacing was born.”
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.
“We don’t pay anybody to be a spokesperson. We just over time have accumulated many professional racers as advocates. Most have contacted us or we bumped into them at a track and just got to talking about iRacing because they were using it either to help them get seat time for a particular track or car or just for fun,” said Gardner.
“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.
For those who cannot commit the time to being competitive in those championships, many have created their own fun leagues.
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.
“Obviously, the more you race against the same drivers the better the racing will get, but it is more than that. The members of our league help each other learn about setups, driving lines, and general racecraft thus making everyone a better driver overall.”
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.