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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.

The Customer is (Nearly) Always Right

by David Phillips on August 27th, 2009

There is no more thankless task in motorsports than that of chief steward.  Charged with interpreting and enforcing a myriad of rules and regulations and occasionally refereeing disputes among supremely competitive individuals, sometimes the most a chief steward can hope for is to earn an equal degree of enmity from all sides.

It’s tough enough when you’re Brian Barnhart, president, competition and racing operations of the Indy Racing League and your IndyCar series runs 17 races a season; tougher still when you’re George Silbermann, NASCAR’s managing director of racing operations and you run 38 Sprint Cup races a year.  And spare a thought for Don Grabey, race director for the World of Outlaws, who oversees the WoO’s winged sprint cars during an 85-event schedule stretching  from February through November.

In many ways, however, the challenges faced by Barnhart, Silbermann and Grabey pale compared to those confronted by Nim Cross, chief  steward of FIRST, sanctioning body for the plethora of online race series run by iRacing.com.   With more than 200 races daily among 16 classes in an arena that stages four 12-week seasons annually, plus four more “Week 13s” not to mention the new iRacing Pro Series Oval and Road Racing competition, the 43-year-old resident of York, PA has a daunting task.

“…in the real world, a driver cussing and swearing at another competitor knows they may get a punch in the mouth as a result.  In an online situation that’s not going to happen, so we need to develop methods of making people responsible for their behavior.”

Cross says iRacing’s graduated licensing system, which emphasizes on safety ratings, is his biggest ally.

“The fairest policing mechanism is the iRacing system itself,” he says.  “First, there’s the Code of Conduct and with the safety rating system you can’t have a lot of accidents if you hope to move up to an advanced license.
“I only get involved in the most egregious incidents,” Cross continues.  “Considering all the racing that takes place on our site, that doesn’t happen very often.  But when a protest is filed, we have the video replays and the chat logs as evidence.    I try to look at the incident from all sides, keep in mind that emotions run high, and treat everyone fairly and with respect.  After all, the people involved are not only our customers, they’re competitors in our series.”

nim1
Additional allies include Shannon Whitmore, iRacing.com director of customer experience/customer service, Susan Flint, iRacing.com customer support manager and Angela Sinopoli, customer support specialist, with whom Cross consults on particularly tricky cases.
Cross brings a unique background to the task.   In his younger days, Cross was a regular at local race tracks like Williams Grove and Lincoln Speedway (his two “favorite places on Earth”) and worked on Daryl Gohn’s sprint car until the popular driver’s fatal accident in 1988.  Cross was later introduced to the world of right turns when he attended an IMSA race at Watkins Glen and now is as likely to be found at Summit Point or Mid-Ohio as Lincoln or “the Grove.”

He is also an inveterate game player; indeed he spent much of his time in the ‘80s developing his own racing board games.  With the advent of computer racing games, it was only a matter of time before Cross took to online racing, first as a beta-tester for Papyrus (among others) and, later, with his Virtual Racing World (www.virtualracingworld.com).  Using NASCAR 2003, VRW featured an online racing league with a highly realistic atmosphere in which team owners had two cars, a virtual bank and bid for their drivers in a blind auction.  Drivers could not compete in the series until they were hired by a team owner and each time a driver crashed, the team owner had to pay for the repairs from his virtual bank account.

“I tried to make the environment as realistic as possible,” says Cross.  “For example, in qualifying, rather than having all the cars on the track at once, VRW mirrored NASCAR’s single car qualifying.  If you drew a high number, you had to wait your turn and experience the same butterflies as the real NASCAR drivers, go out on cold tires just like the real drivers and so on.  I heard of some drivers in VRW being so nervous waiting in the qualifying line they throw up.”

Given that level of authenticity, it was only a matter of time before Cross attracted the attention of iRacing.com co-founder John Henry.  Their discussions about policing a community of online racers resulted in Cross joining iRacing first as the director of the beta-team and, later, as the chief steward.

Together, Cross and his colleagues instituted a keystone of the iRacing.com service, namely a code of conduct that begins with the in-race chat among competitors and extends to the forums.
“We need to set standards for behavior,” he says.  “People say ‘In the real world, drivers cuss and swear at each other.  Why not on iRacing?’

“The answer is in the real world, a driver cussing and swearing at another competitor knows they may get a punch in the mouth as a result.  In an online situation that’s not going to happen, so we need to develop methods of making people responsible for their behavior.”

Which doesn’t mean Cross is drunk with power.  One of his abiding concerns is always taking into account the various skill levels of the participants.

“Initially, most of our members were veteran sim-racers,” he says.  “As our membership has grown we’ve attracted more and more people experiencing sim-racing for the first time.

“I pay special attention to the rookies.  It may be that when they’re accused of intentionally wrecking someone that that wasn’t the case; they were doing their best, it’s just that their best isn’t very good.  That’s OK.  That’s what the rookie series are for.”

The other end of the spectrum is the inaugural iPS Oval and Road Racing championships.  Open only to  Pro iRacing Licensees (awarded to the 250 top-rated oval and road racers based on speed and  safety), the iPSO and iPSRR could be Cross’ biggest challenge.

“Racing is an ego-driven sport,” he says.  “Any time you put thirty of the best drivers on the same track, somebody is going to wind up thirtieth who’s not used to being thirtieth.  So there will be a period of adjustment.  Some people will overcompensate and accidents may be the result.

“Accidents are part of racing and, as long as it’s not malicious, I don’t have a problem.  The best drivers are the most competitive by nature, but the very best drivers control their emotions.”

If they don’t, they’ll be hearing from Nim Cross.

15 Comments or Trackbacks

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  1. Tim Wheatley
    September 2nd, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Awesome stuff. Great to hear from The Steward!

  2. Jim Kepford
    September 2nd, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Nothing like a trip to the trailer to straighen them out. You do a great job Nim.

  3. Dana Garrison
    September 2nd, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Nim, for some reason I pictured you looking like a monster. Nice read David

  4. Greg Cloutier
    September 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Go Nim! Good to put a face to the name and we all know how busy you are out there!

    More and more members signing up i’m surprised you havn’t had more of a handful dealing with all of it!

  5. Tony LaGrene
    September 3rd, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Nim is the perfect guy for this position…. he is very fair and looks at things very objectively…. great job Nim and thanks for doing what you do !! :)

  6. Reed Rundell
    September 3rd, 2009 at 2:45 am

    Great read Nim, keep up the great work!! And if ya have to give out a swift kick in the butt once in a while, we know you can handle that too!! :)

  7. Dave Zortman
    September 3rd, 2009 at 2:56 am

    I’ve been lucky enough to know Nim since back in the days when we both helped out the late Daryl Gohn. I’ve played many a racing board game with him too. During my years working as an official at Williams Grove, Lincoln and Susquehanna speedways, where Nim was usually in attendance, I was always impressed with his knowledge and passion for all forms of motor racing. I can’t think of anyone with more integrity and class to fill such a tough position. Proud of you bud!

  8. Jeff Thomas
    September 3rd, 2009 at 3:27 am

    There could never be a better pick for this postion.. Nim is good people

    JT
    http://www.teamdraft.com

  9. Michael McGinnis
    September 3rd, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Great read! Thanks Nim for all your hard work!

  10. guy
    September 3rd, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    dude , yer site is a black hole…..

    what gives? are you still doing this or what?

  11. Simon Woodson
    September 3rd, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I always thought Nim was actually an acronym or a nick name. Is that short for something?

  12. Wilbur Gildersleeve Jr
    September 3rd, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I was part of the VRW, as a driver and then a Team Owner. My mouth got me the team owner position.
    Nim tought me a few of the finer things of online racing, from which I learned something I’ll never forget!!

    Thank you Nim!!
    and thank you for the hard work you do as Chief Stewart for iRacing!

  13. Morgan Schooley
    September 9th, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Always been happy with Nim, very fair steward.

    Thanks for a thankless job!

  14. Shawn Murphy
    September 21st, 2009 at 6:05 am

    I love the iRacing system for the most part.

    I haven’t been happy with steward judgements lately, as I think the “Let SR be their guide” is followed a bit too much. With an A license now, I can’t even race rookie races in the Solstice which I miss greatly. I do wish a little more emphasis was placed on the steward position as a teaching tool as well, but I’m not sure that is feasible with only one person doing it, and I’m sure it has to be weighed with thoughts of retention, and the overall well being of iRacing.

    I do think Nim does a great job given the work load though.

  15. Jim A.
    October 24th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Way to go Nim!!! I was very happy when you were selected to the position of Chief Steward. Your calm guidance is the backbone of FIRST.

    Congrarts to iRacing for choosing the best man for the job. Well deserved.