It’s perhaps the most famous race track in the world, and today an exact digital version of the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway becomes available to members of iRacing.com’s virtual racing service.
iRacing’s millimeter-accurate reproduction of The Brickyard (or just “the Speedway” as motorsports veterans often refer to it) is priced for iRacing members at $25.00. The track package includes the 2.5-mile, four-cornered oval that first opened for racing 100 years ago and is the venue every Memorial Day weekend for the Indy 500 and since 1994 is host to the “Allstate 400 at the Brickyard” NASCAR Sprint Cup race in July. Also included is the 2.621-mile road circuit originally built to accommodate the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race and that each August welcomes the “Red Bull Indianapolis GP” round of the MotoGP motorcycle world championship.
“We’re excited about the release of Indianapolis Motor Speedway to iRacing members,” said Chris Schwartz, Indianapolis Motor Speedway vice president of marketing. “This will allow IMS fans to get even closer to their favorite track, competing on a precise, virtual version of the Racing Capital of the World.”
This weekend iRacing has organized for its members beginning this evening and running through Sunday a “24 Heures du Fun” unofficial series of races on the Speedway’s oval, featuring a different sort of open-wheel racer – Mario Andretti’s World Championship-winning 1978 Lotus 79 Formula One kecar. iRacers will also immediately be able to practice their stock-car driving techniques at the challenging low-banked oval with the Chevrolet Impala SS NASCAR Sprint Cup car, and later this fall in the Dallara I 09 IndyCar.
“Now fans will have an opportunity to really feel what it’s like to drive an Indy car at over 200 mph at the Speedway,” said IndyCar Series regular Justin Wilson, who recently tried out an early version of the Dallara on a late pre-release version of the track. Wilson, winner this summer of the Watkins Glen round of the 2009 IndyCar Series, practices and races regularly on the iRacing service. Wilson grinned with satisfaction as he first pulled out of the pits. “Yeah, there’s the bump at the end of pit lane, just where it’s supposed to be.”
But it was the experience of lapping in the Dallara at better than 220 miles per hour that really got Wilson’s attention. “The perspective is exactly the same, the sense of driving down that long tunnel into Turn One,” he said. “When you make a small mistake – get down too close to the apron in Turns Three and Four and feel the bumps, turn-in too late or too early – you feel yourself tensing up just as you do in the real car; that edgy sense of ‘am I gonna make it? I think I am, no I’m not, yes I am…’”
The next of iRacing’s four annual 12-week seasons, which begins in November, will include a full virtual IndyCar Series including an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in May, 2010 iRacing will organize a virtual Indy 500 race on the Memorial Day weekend, with qualifying taking place on the same weekends as Indy 500 qualifying occurs in the real-world.
Dave Kaemmer, CEO and co-owner of iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations, noted that the release today of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the upcoming completion of the Dallara IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights car represented the fulfillment of a dream he first had 20 years ago when his first motorsports video game, “Indy 500”, went on sale.
“Looking at ‘Indy 500’ now is kind of a shock,” Kaemmer said. “Everything about it seems primitive by today’s standards – the graphics, the sound, the physics model for the car, the lack of automotive-type controls for players. But in its day, people really loved it. And we did make it possible for players to adjust the handling of the car so that a driver’s skill level came into play. How smoothly you could ‘drive’ the car made a difference in how fast you could go. It was the first step of many that have brought us to the point today that drivers like Justin Wilson, who actually compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recognize the authenticity of our virtual version.
“Real-world drivers know how much fun and how satisfying a good series of laps is at Indy,” Kaemmer continued. “I’m pleased because now we’re going to be able to literally put racing fans all over the world into the seat of an IndyCar, NASCAR Sprint Cup or Nationwide car – or even a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype – and extend that same excitement to each of them.”
“Real-world drivers know how much fun and how satisfying a good series of laps is at Indy,” Kaemmer said. “I’m pleased because now we’re going to be able to literally put racing fans all over the world into the seat of an IndyCar, NASCAR Sprint Cup or Nationwide car – or maybe Grand-Am Daytona Prototype – and extend that same enjoyment to each of them.”