Ask any ordinary, average, gaming Joe what comes to mind when they hear the term MMO, and the response you probably will hear is "dungeons, fairies, and dragons." It seems that most MMOs tend to walk down the role-playing genre of games, but what about racing games? Would a driving game incorporating MMO elements succeed? The developers at iRacing.com would likely respond with a "yes" to that question. With round-the-clock races in all your favorite racing disciplines, the simulation platform has, indeed, seen a great deal of success, and its 50,000 (and counting) members would agree.
Established in 2004 by remnants of Papyrus Design Group, iRacing.com was the brainchild of David Kaemmer and John W. Henry (yes, the same man that owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club). Using the code from Papyrus' NASCAR Racing 2003 Season as a starting point, the sim saw its public launch in 2008, with NASCAR officially sanctioning races in 2010. Even today, new content is released constantly, adding new tracks, cars, and features to the sim.
As this is a Massively Online Multiplayer game, the way races are scored needs to appease the casual racer, and the serious gamer. Official races, which count towards a driver's license class (grants access to different series), Safety Rating (the class depends on this), and iRating (a gauge of a driver's skill), are run around the clock, with an average of a driver's best races during a week counting towards the championship. Mess up a couple races? Don't sweat it, provided your other races were decent. Said championship is divided into 10 divisions which are determined by iRating at the end of each 12 week season, with an overall champion and 10 division champions decided at the end of the season. On the other hand, a league is more like a traditional series that harkens back to the "NR2003 Days." Running a set schedule on a set day, league races do not count towards iRating or Safety Rating. Drivers in serious leagues can often be found with their teammates perfecting their setups to ensure a dominant performance in the upcoming race, vying for the championship title.
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy things about the sim is the tire model, which despite garnering mixed reactions, employs use of theoretical data as opposed to empirical information on tire deformation. While still in constant development, the more dynamic nature of the "New Tire Model" has pushed the simulation to greater heights. Even professional drivers have taken to the sim to hone their skills in real life, citing the immense amount of realism that can be owed to the laser-scanning technology that iRacing implements in development.
iTroping: Tropersport Simulations:
- Ascended Fanboy:
- Josh Berry was discovered by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the sim. Berry impressed Junior, which prompted Little-E to take the talented simracer to the real world by fielding the number 88 Speedco Late Model for him. He performed so good in the Late Models, he has recently doing several Nationwide/Xfinity races, with equally good results too. In fact, Junior recently said that if he can find enough sponsorship for Berry, he will run one of his Xfinity cars full time next year, possibly even expanding his team from three cars to four to make a room for Berry.
- iRacing itself can be said to be this, as with the 2020 coronavirus pandemic putting a stop on all sporting events, many current and former drivers have taken to racing on here and streaming it to fill in as a substitute for the real thing and keeping their fans entertained.
- A Taste of Power: The Carburetor Cup is the only series (aside from 24 Heures Du Fun) that does not count towards anything. Using the NASCAR Sprint Cup Gen 6 cars, which are only available to drivers with a higher license level. It is not uncommon to see Rookie or D Class drivers flocking to these races to get their Gen 6 fix before they are eligible for official series with it.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Sprint cars have incredibly short wheelbases with high-output engines. That being said, much of the steering comes from throttle control as opposed to the wheel itself.
- Badass Driver: Many real-life race car drivers use iRacing to train, and regularly interact with amateur users. Some race car drivers, like Timmy Hill and Josh Berry, were discovered in iRacing and signed to real-world race teams.
- Boring, but Practical: NASCAR stock cars and, to an extent, V8 Supercars are less technology reliant than the Indy Car or Williams FW31 F1 car, but are still a joy to drive regardless.
- Collision Damage: The developers are constantly revamping the damage engine for the game, and as of 2022, the engine allows for wheels and body panels to be removed in accidents.
- Cool Car: Most of the cars in the game fall under this category, since they are tuned racing machines with the single goal being to go fast. This includes classic Formula 1 cars, such as the groundbreaking Lotus 79, and the infuriatingly challenging Lotus 49, and sports cars like the MP4-12C GT3 and the BMW Z4 GT3.
- Fission Mailed:
- In Rookie and D Class license level series, there are no cautions, and one instant repair is given to make up for the fact. That means if you wreck, all is not lost. You can get a whole new car at the snap of your fingers, possibly get the win back, or salvage championship points, Safety Rating, and/or iRating.
- Messed up the front end on an Indy Car? The nose cone is detachable, so you can get seemingly catastrophic front wing damage completely repaired, good as new.
- Fragile Speedster: The Indy Car Series (or just about any open wheel car for that matter) cars are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and have high speed and acceleration marks. That being said, make sure to keep it off the wall and other competitors, or else the suspension will likely become unusable.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Well... More like Gotta Buy 'Em All. There's even an achievement for purchasing all content pieces available. Of course, this won't be easy on the wallet.
- Guide Dang It!: Also a case of Press X to Die, both Indy Car vehicles, the IR-05 (circa 2011) and the modern DW12 do not have built-in starters, unbeknownst to most drivers. While it may seem like a good idea to kill the engine to save fuel under a caution, good luck finding anyone willing to risk their nosecone to push-start the car for you. Otherwise, it's a loooooooooooooooong way back to the pits to get it restarted.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: The crew chief when giving race orders under yellow.
- "Let the PACE (beat) car by."
- In an early version of the Jimmie Johnson spotter pack: "Twenty... TWO... (in British accent) has the Lucky dog. Let them by on the outside. (Back in Big Earl's voice) Pit road is closed..."
- Nintendo Hard: iRacing is not Forza Motorsport. While the former is a racing game that straddles the line between a simulator and an arcade racer, iRacing is a hardcore driving sim that replicates handling physics, suspension dynamics and tire behavior with painstaking realism. A mistake that can be easily recovered in Forza will end in an embarrassing wreck in iRacing.
- Scenery Porn: Meticulously detailed tracks (especially Phillip Island and Mount Panorama) and cars are very pleasing to the eyes.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Superspeedway racing. Pushing your buddy to a win at Daytona or Talladega as opposed to trying a risky move to steal the win for yourself.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Anything in violation of iRacing's sporting code (such as intentionally ramming other players) is fair grounds for another member to protest you, which could lead to loss of privileges on the service, and in severe cases, an IP ban. Therefore, don't do it.
- Wacky Racing:
- The game allows all kinds of cars to race at any track, from driving wallowy off road trucks at the technical Laguna Seca road course to racing 650hp IndyCars and 150 hp Formula 2000 cars at a NASCAR oval.
- Roadkill Racing Series' ever-so-popular CRASHCAR championship. The winner of the race is not the one who places first, rather, the driver who has the most incidents after a certain time limit.
- Carburetor Cup races degenerate into this often. No safety rating or iRating at risk? Inexperienced drivers in the cockpits of Gen 6 racecars? Hilarity ensues.
- Racing broadcaster Sim Speed's own personal event the Maxx Bantz Invitational outright aims to be the worst standard racing experience in exchange for fun. Gimmicks used so far include disqualifying racers for a single incident point, going on a terrible track and declaring that 10th place after an hour would win, and arbitrarily yelling "Get Down Mr President" over the PA System and eliminating the last driver to drop into the apron of the track.