It’s always very exciting to me, living in the Northeast, to hit February with the prospect of heading south for the NASCAR Super Bowl at Daytona International Speedway. This year was no different, only I was greeted on my arrival with colder temperatures than what I left in Boston. Thankfully, it was a somewhat cold day when I left Boston so I did wear my heavy winter jacket to the airport or I would have been in tough shape.
It was really terrific to get to catch-up with some friends and colleagues that I had not seen in quite some time, but I also got to meet and make some new friends from both real world and online racing. I met two of our NASCAR iRacing.com World Championship Series drivers, Brad Davies and John Gorlinsky. Brad looks like someone famous and it was killing me because I could not think of who it was until I saw a commercial last night for a new NBC show called “Parenthood” and I figured it out. Put some glasses on Dax Shepard and you have Brad Davies. I also ended-up getting quite inebriated with iRacing spokesperson Leigh Diffey who is an absolute riot and can regurgitate our infomercial almost word-for-word. If you ever run into Leigh ask him how he enjoyed the 199 laps of the 2010 Daytona 500.
It was a great trip though. It certainly is exciting to really see first-hand how our partnership with NASCAR has spread not only through the garages but into the media room and grandstands. I must have been stopped at least a dozen times in my two days at the track by people seeing my iRacing logos who either commented on how much fun they had with the service or asking questions on how to get started online racing as they had read or heard about it through a wide ranging collection of channels.
Speaking of new channels for exposure to iRacing . . . the NASCAR Hall of Fame project is coming along great. They have an early build of the commercial version of the software installed and operating at the Hall already and they did some initial testing on it last week. It sounds like everyone really enjoyed it and, although it’s still not finished, I believe this will be a terrific experience for the visitors to the Hall and a great way to reach new potential members.
Another avenue to expand our membership that we have been working quite hard on is broadcasting live events to the web. I am sure many of you tuned-in to our first test for the World Cup of iRacing event (congratulations again to Club DE-AT-CH for their impressive victory — Germany, Austria and Switzerland for those who are country acronym challenged like me) and saw that we still have some work to do before we are really ready for prime time. The good news is that we have made quite a bit of progress on the backend and on the client side of the software to make the actual mechanics of broadcasting easier. My hope is that we will have found a partner and be ready for live broadcasts of the DWC series in another month or so.
Yet another avenue to get eye balls on iRacing kicked-off this week with our sponsorship of the 3 Wide Life television show. There is a pretty scattered schedule of when the show is on in your area but you should definitely set your DVR to record the show. We will have more than a dozen segments based around iRacing throughout the season, so it should be pretty interesting to see how they turn out. A piece that we did down at VIR with the TDI Cup Series car will air next week I believe and there will be a piece with Dale Jr, Greg “the Hollywood Hammer” Hill scanning and building tracks, and Wyatt Gooden at the TDI Cup driver selection weekend coming in the next few months. If you miss the actual show we will have these segments up on our website in the near future.
I know that some of you have seen our announcement of a marketing relationship with a company called Interush specifically targeting new customers in Asia. It is obviously a very exciting proposition to gain some online racing/race simulation game market share in Asia. I have seen many forum posts asking about licensing content from this market and I will confirm to you that I have been working diligently to make that happen. I can’t say that I have anything that is close to signing, but we have made a lot of progress on a number of fronts and I feel confident that we will have some exciting news in this department this year.
Staying on the “regional” content topic, we are working very hard on the Ford Falcon V8 Supercar right now. It is our hope that we can line up the release of this car with Phillip Island which will be the next track to be released after Zandvoort comes-out next week. I expect that Phillip Island and the V8 will be ready sometime in May. More a global topic, but we will send Eric Hudec over to England this week for an onsite visit with the William FW31 and to spend time with the engineers to begin the process of building the virtual version of this fantastic car. I am just as eager as everyone else to find out what it will be like to drive a modern F1 car with an iRacing physics model.
Speaking of physics, Dave has made a lot of progress on his new tire model. I know some of you may be getting tired of hearing that this will come out soon, but I think it will be well worth the wait. Just from what I have seen so far on how the tires’ contact patch changes based on different track grades and bumps, I think it’s going to be incredible. Our hope is to get something at least into testing in the next month so we can see really how far (or close) we are to getting this out to the members site.
I also see a lot of discussion on the forums about split times and if/when we’ll see split times in iRacing. Although I never say something is 100% positive to be in the next build, I will say with 80% confidence that some form of split times or delta lap tracking will be in this next build. We have a lot of things we would love to do in this department but, like everything else, it’s important to start someplace and I think we have a good plan in place to do that.
We will have more than a dozen segments based around iRacing throughout the season, so it should be pretty interesting to see how they turn out.
Another item I will throw out there for now that we are working on is mixed class racing. This is actually a pretty significant task but I feel pretty confident that we will have something in place for the next build that will allow us to group multiple racing classes in one online racing series. I have to admit that I have wanted some type of racing game or racing simulator that accurately represented true multi-class racing myself. I can’t even remember if there were ever even any racing games on Nintendo/Xbox/Playstation that really had multi-class racing in the same event.
I think this is probably a pretty good place to stop for now on what is on the horizon for iRacing. I will try and do another blog post as we get closer to the end of this current season to update you on how development has progressed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal customers who have been with us for so long and helped us build this terrific product and community. We make great strides every day in improving our product, practices and procedures and a lot of the credit for this goes to your passion for this product and your desire for it to succeed.