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April 2014

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iRacing TV

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The Team

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  • David Phillips
    Editor And Chief
    David Phillips is a long-time contributor to print and electronic publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Racer, Autosport, AutoWeek, Motor Sport and SPEEDtv.com, oversees the daily updating of news stories and assigns, edits and contributes feature material for inRacingNews.com.
  • David Judson
    Contributor

    29 years old, Dave Judson lives in Mentor, Ohio. Dave has grown up with racing, watching his father win races and championships at the local go-kart track as a youngster and continuing his love of racing while watching NASCAR, Indycar, Formula 1 and sports cars.
    Judson has enjoyed a successful sim-racing career of his own in the IZOD Indycar iRacing Open and Fixed Setup Series. He has race wins to his credits as well as the Division 1 Championship of the Open Series in Season 1 of 2013 and the Overall Championship of the Fixed Series in Season 3 of 2013.
    Dave has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University and is looking to expand his horizons by writing for inRacingNews.

  • Matt A Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Kingsbury lives in Fairfield, Connecticut where he currently attends Sacred Heart University. He is a fan of any form of racing, from NASCAR to IndyCar, Formula 1, and especially endurance racing. The summer of 2013 saw Kingsbury attend IndyCar's return to Pocono Raceway as well as the ARCA race at Pocono which Corey Lajoie won and got some pictures (including the accompanying mug shot) in Victory Lane thanks to his aunt!

  • Raymond Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Ray Kingsbury is a motorsport enthusiast and full-time university student, born and raised in Connecticut. He started his own racing career in BMX, riding bicycles competitively on the state level. In eight years he claimed the state championship and was ranked nationally before moving away from the sport. This void of activities led him to rediscover sim-racing in the form of NASCAR Heat. After a championship in the game's most competitive league Kingsbury started focusing full-time on his involvement in Live for Speed. There he founded Last Lap Motorsports which today has more than 20 members worldwide.

    When a few Last Lap Motorsports members decided to give iRacing.com a chance to feed their desire for more oval racing, Ray teamed with his brother Matt, Nathan Lamothe and newcomer Jimmie Jones to enter the ETV! Live Team Series and claimed the title after a dominating performance at Watkins Glen. To this day the team continues in both Live for Speed and iRacing.com and Ray still takes much delight in his own sim-racing career. A reporter for his high school newspaper before moving to university, Kingsbury keeps-up his writing activities by contributing to iRacing News.

  • Jeff Jacobs
    Contributor

    Jeff Jacobs started autocrossing with the SCCA in 1990 while a student at the University of Florida. He has competed in the SCCA's National Tour and ProSolo series since 1995, winning a ProSolo National Championship in H-Stock in 2011 driving a 2010 MINI Cooper. Jeff completed his SCCA Club Racing drivers' school in 2012 at Roebling Road in a Spec Miata. He currently writes a column for the SCCA's Northeast Division in SportsCar Magazine and is the Region Executive of the Philadelphia Region SCCA.

    Jeff joined iRacing in October 2012. After starting with the MX-5 and SRF cars, he has been concentrating on the Ford Mustang FR500S, competing in the iRacing.com Mustang Cup series and the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series.

  • Jordan Hightower
    Contributor

    Jordan began sim-racing in 2005 with the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season sim and then joined the iRacing community in June of 2008. He hails from Fort Smith, Arkansas where he is currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, after which he plans to attend the University of Arkansas to earn his MBA. Although he enjoys watching and playing basketball, most of Jordan's focus is on motorsports, particularly NASCAR: "Anything that burns gas and goes fast, I like."

  • Scott Kelly
    Contributor

    Born and raised in the greater St. Louis, Missouri area, Scott Kelly has had a love for motorsports ever since his father did the right thing by introducing auto racing into his life. No longer able to quench his need for speed by spectating NASCAR races on TV and watching dirt track stars slide around local tracks, Kelly eventually picked-up sim racing in his teens, wheeling cars found in Ratbag Games' "Dirt Track Racing" and "World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars" while also becoming introduced into multiple Papyrus sim-racing series. Joining the iRacing ranks in late 2011, Kelly set his sights on the short track racing he was familiar with, focusing on the sprint car, while also driving the Legends and street stock in multiple iRacing.com leagues.

    Kelly brings not just his enthusiasm for racing to the highest-rated motorsports simulation, but also his B.A. degree in English; he covers the action seen in the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series, while also placing the spotlight on various leagues within the service. Enjoying his start to a career in motorsports journalism, Kelly also doesn't mind visiting victory lane from time-to-time.

  • George Wood
    Contributing Writer
    After beginning his racing career with go-karts at age seven, George then turned wrenches on street stocks until he could finally turn the wheel. Following the successes of his friends and family, George has since retired from real-world racing, where he is now a science and mathematics faculty member for several local community colleges. When George isn't grading laboratory reports or iRacing, he is performing at bluegrass festivals in the Northeast, making fishing lures, playing golf, and rooting for his beloved Baltimore Orioles.
  • Chris Hall
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Chris Hall has been writing since the nineties and moved into motorsports reporting in 2005, covering series such as ALMS, British GT, FIA GT, Le Mans and 2CV racing for Full Throttle magazine, Motorsport.com, The-Paddock.net, GTGateway.com, L' Endurance and, of course, inRacingNews. During 2008 and 2009, he worked with the RSS Performance Porsche Carrera Cup Team (and former British GT(C) champions) as a data engineer for a variety of drivers and models of 997s.
  • Jason Lofing
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Jason is 21 years old and was born and raised in Elk Grove. California. A big time NASCAR fan, he hasn’t missed a race on Sunday in years. Lofing is also a huge San Fransisco Giants fan and tries to take in at least a couple games a year. Other than sim racing, his biggest (and far more expensive!) hobby is photography. Although he is rather new to sim racing, Lofing has already accomplished some pretty impressive results, qualifying for the 2011 iRacing Oval Pro Series in Season 1, 2011, winning the inaugural Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge and finishing runner-up in the second one.
  • Dylan Sharman
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in Adelaide and we moved-out for Angle Vale for a few years until I was about 7 years old, when we moved to the Barossa Valley where I live now. I'm 19 years old and currently traveling back and forth weekly as I'm studying for a Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology.

    I've always had a love for racing as my close family did some racing and we were always out at the local dirt track. I joined iRacing back in 2010 and slowly but surely got the hang of it as this is my first experience with sim racing and am loving it each time I race. I've won two SK Modified titles (almost had three in a row but finished P2 in 2011 S4), an iRacingNews Challenge championship (2012 S1 Mazda) and was also an AustralAsian Intel GT Series Finalist.
  • Katier Scott
    Contributing Writer
    I am a veteran sim racer who first started racing way back in 1993 on the SPRTSIMS section of Compuserve with a league who can trace themselves all the way to the present. Within that league I act as Chief Steward and try to bring the unique viewpoint that this experience gives me into my articles.
    I have a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Editorial design and have been writing for seven years and currently cover the Lotus 79 CTC and Radical series alongside my freelance work. Living in the UK, as well as motorsports I love Photography, Arts and Crafts and reading.
  • David Ifeguni
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1988 and moved to Midland, Michigan when I was two years old. I stayed there until third grade when I moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan and now I currently live in Naperville, IL where I'm attending Metea Valley High School as a 9th grader. In the past, I have participated in soccer and this year I plan on joining swimming or water polo. My family includes my 15 year old sister, a 7 year old sister and my mom and dad. I have been writing since 6th grade and have participated in many writing contests in my school and have received several awards for writing.
    My fascination for motorsports began when I was nine. The first NASCAR race I watched on TV was the 2009 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, won by Kasey Kahne. My favorite NASCAR drivers are Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jimmie Johnson. I have watched all the races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series since 2010. I currently have three wins on iRacing, two of them in the Nationwide car at Daytona and one in the Street stocks at Charlotte. My favorite car and type of track on iRacing is the Nationwide Series (B Class) car and superspeedways.

A Decidedly Unofficial Guide to iRacing, Part II

by Dan Segolson on May 27th, 2012

Yesterday we featured the first of a two part story in iRacing by  Swedish sim-racer Dan Segolson.  A resident of Stockholm, Segolson has been into racing games since 2000.  He switched to serious sim-racing with a clear road focus in ’07 in leagues at swedishsimracers.com where he is also one of the administrators.  Segolson works in user experience in the online gaming business and has written numerous papers on what drives a player.  He signed up at iRacing in the first wave in ’08 and says he never looked back.

“I decided to write this after a lengthy discussion on the growth and the future of eSports where I felt that the model of sanctioned virtual racing has to ‘get out there’ to all those who nourish the dream of racing for real. Not just for us who are already there and active.”

Although the opinions expressed are those of Dan Segolson and not necessarily of iRacing.com, he clearly has a passion for eSports – iRacing.com in particular.  We hope you enjoy it. - Ed

Last summer’s release by iRacing.com featured something that, without question, sets the bar for all other simulators to compare themselves:  A fully dynamic, new tire model (NTM).

This may sound like complete mumbo jumbo marketing buzz, after all, all car simulators has a tire model, right? Well, true.  But the single most important element in replicating how real a car feels in the simulator is just that, the tire model.

Very (very) simply put, tire models up to now have been the product of  a bunch of smart algorithms that calculate factors like speed, slip angle etc and then set the values for what type of grip, tire wear, heat etc the tires should provide in any given situation. This is then translated into the feedback you get through the steering wheel, along with the feeling for the track’s surface variations (bumps, cracks, etc).

Depending on how well the programmer manages achieve his/her goal, you get a more or less believable feeling for how the car behaves from the steering wheel.  The problem with this way of doing things is that, as long as you stay within the limits of the tire, it works quite well.  But as you step over the limit, and really push the tires (which happens all the time in racing), all the “known” data goes out the window, to be replaced by educated guesswork.

Abuse your tires in iRacing . . .

What iRacing has done, and continues to do, is adopt a dynamic approach to this challenge, such that the user (aka iRacer) need not have access to a supercomputer to go sim-racing. And note that this is not just one single tire model for all cars; the NTM is dynamic to the point that it behaves differently for different types of tires.   After all, the tires on a Mazda MX5 behave differently than those on a Formula One car, which behave differently than the tires on an IZOD IndyCar Dallara or NASCAR Sprint Cup car because, obviously, they are very different tires in size, construction and hundred other parameters.

Different tires work differently at different temperatures; they wear differently, they have different stiffness and they react differently to tire pressure and slip angles. All of this is modeled in real time as you drive any of iRacing’s 50+ virtual cars. Just to give you an idea, the tire temperature can change up to 50 degrees in a second and basically everything is dependent on temperature…

The concrete effects of this are that as you drive the car, you can really feel how the pressures in the tires rise as the tire temperatures go from cold to hot; you can feel how the tire walls get stiffer as the pressure increases and the car starts to feel more solid.  Basically every shift in temperature affects the grip and feeling in the tires. Should you drive “less than carefully” and slide around, the tire temperatures will skyrocket and their surfaces will turn to molten blubber . . . and you will be sliding around as if on ice. Lower the stress on the tires and the surface will harden again and you will regain some of the grip.  And once you have worn down the hardened surface, the tires will be return to almost normal levels or grop – of course your lap times will have suffered as a consequence of that cycle . . . just as in real racing.

and you'll eventually pay the price!

All of this adds another layer of realism in the iRacing competition.  So it’s not the drivers who are able to hot-lap for the whole race that win.  In fact, they’ll end-up with mushy, slippery half molten rubber blobs on their rims in five laps if they don’t cool down their driving.  On the other hand, the drivers who can manage tire wear and temps will have a way better shot at providing consisent, quick lap times throughout the race with a better finish as a reward compared to before.  Just as it’s supposed to be in racing…

Naturally iRacing has used real life drivers in the development of the new tire model, for instance from the V8 Supercars Series. There they have seen it’s possible to directly compare the real V8 Supercar to the virtual version.  Through the telemetry, they can see the real and virtual cars perform similarly when it comes to tire wear, temps, grip and similar.

Since its first release last summer, the NTM has been added to more and more cars and now virtually all cars has it. An early beta release of the new tire model was provided before that on the new Nationwide oval car, and already in the beta version it was obvious that all the talk was true. It is an immense difference between the old version and the new, almost like a whole new simulation… That said, we should remember that even before the NTM, many considered iRacing’s tire model among the very best you could find in racing simulations on the consumer market.

As with all things iRacing, the NTM is a work in progress.  For every subsequent release after the initial one, tweaks and adjustments are made as the NTM has been applied to more and more cars. As the NTM gets dialed-in properly it will shake the world for sim-racers until they get the chance to adapt their driving style.  The NTM is big in the sim-racing world, no doubt!

So, I want to drive this, NOW!

How do I go about it to get started in iRacing if I’ve got a steering wheel, pedals, a decent PC and want to get in there and compete for titles, trophies and global honour in the top series of iRacing?

To start with, this is a subscription service so the first step is to sign up for a membership in iRacing (at www.iRacing.com). The membership can be anything between a month’s trial subscription to one year, two years or three years for those who know from the start what they want.

It’s not for free of course, and there is no demo.  Once you’ve signed up you have access to a base offer that covers the rookie series on both oval and road where everyone starts, no exceptions. The iRacing model is built on a license ladder just as in a lot of other games, but here you unlock the right to compete in official series with a certain type of car. It’s not about unlocking a new track or a new car as in Need for Speed, Dirt etc.

Again, this is based on how real racing licensing works. The licenses are divided in two, one for Road and one for Oval, you go for the one you find most fun, or both, that’s up to you.  The license steps go from Rookie to A which is the highest normal license. After you’re earned your A license you can start working on a Pro license and a spot in the world championship series.

Speaking of licenses, which are basically a measure of how safe you are on track, there is also a measure on roughly how fast you are: your iRating. Basically it goes up if you beat drivers faster than you, and it goes down if you keep getting beaten. This is mainly used to place drivers in divisions and to match drivers in races based on their speed and skill.

“This tends to cut down on the number of races where one driver runs away ahead of the pack . . .”

Since we are talking about online racing here, and the fact that you can get 500 drivers who want to race in the same event, iRacing uses what they call ”splits” to divide drivers into several parallel races if more people register for a race than can comfortably compete against one another.  If this is the case, you will be placed in a split where the iRating (driver speed/skill) matches yours; this to get as evenly matched, hard, good races as possible.  You will notice this tends to cut down on the number of races where one driver runs away ahead of the pack as is often the case in pick-up racing.

In the beginning of your iRacing career it’s not about winning races, it’s about race craft; showing that you are safe in traffic. Basically you need to stay on the tarmac, not spin and avoid contact with other cars as much as possible.  Accidents can and will happen, but the iRating and Safety Rating systems are designed to reward those who keep their “racing incidents” to a minimum.  You do all of this in the Rookie series in simpler, easy to drive cars – Mazda MX5 for road racing and Street Stock for oval racing.

Manage this properly, and soon your SR (Safety Rating) will be at a level where you have the right to claim a higher license and race more powerful cars in a higher level/license series. To move on from there, you need to show that you have mastered those cars; at the same time the demands on your SR is a bit higher for each step upwards in license you take. As you leave the Rookie series, it starts to become important to win races, gain championship points and go for a divisional win.

As you climb in license levels, the new licenses are free of cost; however, there will be a new car or two in the next series and a track or two to buy. What’s important to remember is that you only buy what you want to race, be it a car or a track.  And many experienced iRacers are perfectly happy racing in the rookie level series, be they oval or road racing.

The series runs four 12 week seasons each year but, in general, only your eight best weekly scores count in the seasonal point total.  This means that you can either skip a race where you don’t own the track, or the lowest points will simply not be counted. Of course you can race as much as you like, but in regards to championship points, if you drive more than two races in a week, your score for that week will be based on your average finish. This is to stop the guys with unlimited time from winning everything.

At the end of each season iRacing series produce one overall winner and ten or more divisional winner; in the highest series, (Premier, Pro and World Championship, etc.), it’s all about the overall winners.

The oval series are based on different types of cars, from pure NASCAR cars such as Trucks, Nationwide, Sprint Cup and IZOD IndyCars which run on the large signature tracks such as Daytona, Indianapolis, Talladega etc, to a multitude of different short track including Late Models, Street Stocks, Silver Crown and Sprint Cars and tracks like Lanier, Stafford, Irwindale and New Smyrna Speedways.

Road series are divided into open wheel/formula cars, prototypes and sports cars. Tracks range from shorter local US tracks like Summit Point and Lime Rock, to longer circuits including Road Atlanta, Road America and Virginia International Raceway to international classics such as Silverstone, Spa- Francorchamps and Zandvoort.

Naturally you can run any series you prefer up to the license level you are eligible for. If you have an A license in both road and oval, you can run in any series barring Pro and World Cup, as long as you own the car and track.

As you understand by now, this is quite far from an Everyman’s racing game where you jump in, grab the coolest car and start racing at once. This is probably the closest you can get to real world motor racing without a budget far higher than any normal guy has. That said, if you want to get somewhere in your racing career, it’s the long-term perspective that usually wins. Basically this is motorsports for real, at home, without the multi-million dollar budgets!

Simply put, to compete with the best, you need to spend a lot of long hours practicing in cars and on tracks to get close to the Pros speed and consistency. Very, very few have the raw talent to be able to step into this simulator from zero, and quickly become a regular winner in the faster series. But if you have the determination, stamina and interest required to put down the time, you will be rewarded with a lot of excitement, adrenalin, frustration and pure joy. Who knows, perhaps you are good enough to win a real title and a bundle of cash as well?

Of course you don’t have to spend countless of hours practicing if you just want to run a good race against humans in one of the best simulators available. Just drive enough to get the license you want, make sure you are safe in traffic and understand the rules, then you can jump in and get a good race with like-minded people around the world 24/7.

Regardless of your approach — 110% determination to reach the top of the world championships or racing for the fun of it — surely it’s an extra kick to know that beside you, at the starting line in a Sprint cup Car, you might have Dale Ernhart JR from the real NASCAR Sprint Cup series waiting for green light, just as you. I promise, his heart rate is also higher just before the spotter yells:  GREEN, GREEN, GREEN!!

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