September 12th, 2017 by Donald Wayne Strout
During Season 3, 2017, iRacing introduced Time Attack. Dave Gamble, Staff Writer for Game Nexus calls it, “online racing for introverts”. Limited “focus group” research by others indicates it is a brilliant move by iRacing in that it recognizes an important “market segment” in the racing community.
First, while “introverts” may indeed be attracted to racing alone, the true aspect of competitive “racing against the clock” is not a sport just for introverts. One example is major TV coverage of the well attended Indy 500 Time Trials. Another is the popularity of SCCA SOLO Autocross where more than 1200 participants show up annually for the National Championships—representing the best of the thousands who compete in the local competitions.
While it can be easily argued that the majority of drivers and fans enjoy the “battles” seen in wheel to wheel racing, there is also a real attraction by many to the drama of solo time trials, where speed alone is the goal. To some, racing should be like the epic chariot race depicted in the film Ben Hur. To others, racing is like the dramatic competition of runners in the Olympic Games as seen in the film Chariots of Fire, who not only run to win without necessarily battling with runners in the other lanes, but also to set new “world records” in competition with runners from the past that are not even on the track with them. The drama is not about “Who will beat the other guy?”, but rather, “Who will be the best?” and “How do I compare?”.
iRacing has even moved this form of competition into the “Professional” realm, by offering serious prize money for Time Attack in three series for 2017S4: Ferrari GTE, Xfinity, and 410 Sprints.
iRacing Leagues are a great way for competitors with shared interests and values to form intimate “social” communities and share friendly competition. That same benefit can be provided to those who enjoy the dramatic competition of “racing against the clock”.
Recently, a new league named “RACE4sport Eagles” was created. The main objective is to form a social community of drivers who love driving “purpose built” race cars—open wheel and prototypes. They will concentrate on the FR2.0, the L79, and the Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype, running Time Attack and Time Trials. League members of all skill levels will share setups, hot lap replays and driving tips. (Thus reducing the need for “fixed setup” Time Attack series.) It is predicted that more of these types of leagues will be formed. Maybe, they will not be “online racing for introverts” but rather, “online racing for drivers who want to concentrate on speed without the distraction of traffic but who enjoy sharing their experience with others”.
The RACE4sport Eagles have incorporated one other, perhaps unusual concept: the idea that racing does not need to be a “zero-sum” game. Members of the league agree to abide by a simple rule: Never take any intentional action that might harm or in any way slow down, or diminish the performance of another driver. Think of it as the universal Golden Rule with ‘Do No Harm’ added. While the league concentrates on Time Attack and Time Trials, it also encourages members to race in the “open” iRacing series races, abiding by the “simple rule” as an “example” along with a defensive concept called reciprocal altruism, borrowed from the scientific/academic field of competitive game theory. More information about the league is found by clicking on the website link in the League Info section found in the iRacing League Directory.