by Steve Potter on July 29th, 2010
New Features Make World’s Leading Online Racing Service Easier and More Fun
For the more than 20,000 race gamers and other racing enthusiast members of iRacing.com, the online racing experience just keeps getting better. The latest quarterly update to the iRacing.com service, released earlier this week, introduces new and enhanced features that will make the racing more fun, more convenient, and more realistic than ever.
“One of the great things about iRacing’s internet-based model is that it allows us to regularly add new features and content and tweak existing ones seamlessly, without inconvenience to our members,” said Tony Gardner, iRacing.com’s president. “When a member logs on, his or her software is automatically updated.”
Gardner noted that while minor changes are made frequently, larger enhancements are normally implemented about every 90 days.
“When we opened our doors to the public two years ago, iRacing.com was already the most accurate racing simulation available to the public, and provided the best racing experience ever,” Gardner said. “But we told those first subscribers that this was just the beginning, that we’d make the service better and better. We’ve lived up to that promise.
Taken all together, the developments over the past 24 months are so extensive that the differences seem like night and day.”
And that highlights perhaps the most interesting single new feature unveiled this week – night racing under the lights. Along with the ability to log into races as a spectator with a view from any point around the track for any race session on any circuit, iRacing.com has introduced a nighttime version of Richmond International Raceway. With accurately rendered track lighting that puts the light and shadows exactly where they are in the real-world version of the track, this second version of Richmond International Raceway is now bundled with the day-time version of the track and available free for download to all members who already own the three-quarter-mile NASCAR oval.
“We went back to our original laser scans of Richmond to make sure that everything was correct and then our engineers researched light intensities on the track surface and other factors,” said Greg Hill, iRacing.com’s vice president of art and production. “After determining where the lights would be pointed, we changed the rendering code to produce the relative light intensities on the cars, the pavement and the grandstands and in the shadow areas in each.
It was a lot of work, but as is the case with all of our content, fidelity to the real world is the essential requirement.”
Hill said that over time iRacing.com plans to add the night-racing feature to other tracks in its inventory.
Fine-Tuning The Racing Experience
More than just the most accurate auto racing simulation available to the public, iRacing.com replicates the organizational side of the sport with a racing school and graded championship oval and road-racing series (including seven oval series sanctioned by NASCAR) that make it easy and fun for drivers to develop their racing skills, get to know their fellow enthusiasts, and enjoy satisfying racing careers. Changes that improve the realism and enjoyment for iRacing members include:
• A new spectator mode that permits members to watch races from any vantage point at the track and through iRacing’s audio chat feature, talk with other spectators watching the race.
• An Online Status Indicator that shows all of a member’s designated friends who are currently logged onto the system and what they are currently doing. This permits a member to jump into a race session with friends, or watch that session.
• Fixed setup racing, where all setup options are specified rather than variable. This makes it easier for relatively inexperienced drivers to compete with veterans. The upcoming 12-week iRacing.com season will see the debut of fixed setups in Impala Class B and Corvette Class B racing, each of which will feature separate series and championships for fixed and open setup competition.
• The simulation’s damage model has been upgraded so that it translates the damage from non-major on-track incidents, such as damaged radiators or oil lines, into engine performance changes up to and including engine failure. The aerodynamic model now also has a more robust damage model meaning damaged wings and fenders will now slow your driving pace.
• A revised transmission model that gives advanced members the option of experiencing the dramatic differences in the performance of various model transmissions as they are used in the fleet of racing cars in the iRacing.com inventory.
• Tweaks to the simulation’s physics model that improve the fidelity of the each simulated car to its real-world counterpart.
• Revisions to the Web site that make it easier to register for specific races.
• A new format for the member forums, the virtual gathering places where iRacers socialize and bench race, is scheduled to go live in the next two weeks.
Now Easier to Organize Your Own Racing Series
One of the more recent upgrades to the service introduced hosted racing, a feature which permits any iRacing.com member to organize his or her own races and race series, open either to all members of the service or only to friends who are invited to participate.
This week’s update includes a set of administrative controls that enhances the control a race or series host has over the on- and off-track aspects of the competition. Hosts will now be able to black flag and even disqualify competitors, throw full course yellows at their discretion, enable lapped cars to regain the lead lap . . . in other words, do virtually anything “real world” race officials do. And fixed setup racing will be available for all cars in the iRacing.com inventory, allowing race hosts to specify chassis setups for all cars, making races among drivers of various skill level more competitive and more fun.