Since 2009, privately sanctioned leagues have long been a feature of many iRacers’ weekly schedules. If you ask those that participate in leagues, they’re most likely to tell you that league racing is some of the hardest racing you can find on the service. League members will quickly follow up that statement by telling you that the cleanest racing is also found within these regularly hosted events. If you’re a new member to iRacing, or a veteran that has only participated in iRacing official events, chances are you’re missing out on a lot of action found in the Leagues section of iRacing.com. Because of the new functionality that iRacing built into the service back in July of 2012, racing leagues are beginning to flourish on iRacing.com now more than ever before, which members have testified about in a positive manner. With hundreds of leagues specializing in any kind of racing (limited only by iRacing’s vast catalog of cars and track layouts), chances are there is a league out there for any aspiring racer to enjoy. Every two weeks, inRacingNews will bring readers an interview with an admin or representative of an iRacing league, with the goal of introducing new opportunities for iRacers as well as bringing new faces to established communities of drivers.

For the first League Spotlight, I talked with featured iRacer Leila Wilson about her long history with sim racing, and her impressive record with administering online racing leagues. Joining the iRacing service a little over a year ago, Wilson has already made a name for herself in the iRacing.com league atmosphere, bringing her previously established Digital World Racing League (DWRL) to the service. In the past month, she completed a merger with the up-and-coming Sim Auto Racing Association (SARA) league, bringing even more drivers into the fray. With over 7 years experience with sim racing, Wilson has the experience to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sim racing, and what it boils down to for her and her leagues is one word: fun.

Q: How did your league get started?

A: About 7 years ago, before I’d even discovered iRacing, there was this online ‘game’ called Second Life, that pretty much allowed you to build or do anything you wanted. So of course, after a few months of tinkering, I started building race cars, and pretty soon came race tracks. After that, we had this little race league going on a platform that wasn’t even really made to specifically cater to vehicles. There were a lot of hurdles, too. We ended up getting sponsored by Pontiac for a time — things were pretty good then, but as corporate interest in Second Life waned, and the platform became bigger, things changed, and eventually, after years and years on Second Life, the lot of us decided it was better to race on a more affordable, more realistic platform. There was really no other choice other than iRacing. We wanted the best, so here we are.

Q: How long has your league been active in the sim racing community, and how long has your league resided on iRacing?

A: Back in late mid ’06 was when I hosted the first DWRL race on Second Life. The league didn’t have a name yet, and the first event was a Figure 8 race (naturally.) With only a few breaks between, we’ve been hosting 1-4 races every week ever since. The thing about that, though, is I don’t know if it qualifies as sim racing. I mean, we had cars, and tracks — heck, back in the Second Life days, we even had announcers that would cover the races, but it wasn’t a sim. There was a brief NR2003 stint in ’08, but that never really took off. We didn’t touch down in iRacing until mid 2012. I kind of wish we’d made the switch earlier sometimes. Sure, we could make up fictional tracks on SL (I miss that) and build our own car bodies (I miss that, too) but I don’t think any of us would ever go back. SARA came along a good few months after us, so if you add us together, we’ve been here for at least a year, right?

Q: What themes, whether it be racing or non-racing, does your league focus around?

A: The DWRL league was always focused on fun, for the most part. A lot of leagues take themselves way, way too seriously, and it’s like, ‘whoa, hey, slow down there! Racing’s supposed to be fun!’ The core group of us that’s been around since the Second Life days, and the new folks that have hopped aboard since the move to iRacing are all really laid back. We like to do stuff because it’s fun. This season, we’re going to have a Street Stock and Late Model race at Mid-Ohio, and another at Circuit De Spa. Why? ’cause it’s fun! That, and it’s a challenge. I mean, we could race these cars at all their normal tracks, so why have a league to do that?

Now that we’ve merged with SARA, things are going to be a little different. SARA’s focus is good, hard, clean racing, and so far, that’s paid off across the board. I think things will be changing a bit, but it’s likely we’ll have a ‘classic’ series that will do all the inane crazy stuff we’ve always done with DWRL starting next season.

 

Q: How many series does your league sanction?

A: Before the merger, we kept with tradition. Since day one, we’ve always had some sort of figure 8 thing going on, and that (thankfully) continues here in iRacing. I don’t know what the heck we’d do if they fixed the glitch that allows figure 8 racing. (Staff, if you’re reading this, please don’t fix that exploit. I will be super sad.) There would be a lot of crying, probably, but aside from that, this season we’re continuing our street stock series, and backing up a Late Model event to that, too!

With SARA joining us now, we’ll not only be running Street Stocks and Late Models (Mondays 9 PM EST, back to back, fixed setups) but Sportsman Street Stocks (Tuesday, 11 PM EST, Open setups) Pro Trucks (Wednesday, 9 PM EST, Fixed setups) Figure 8s (Wednesday, right after Pro Trucks) and Outlaw Late Models (Thursdays 11 PM EST, Open Setup) ! That’s a lot of racing!

Q: What days and times does your league hold races during the week?

A: I think we’ll be sticking to the 6 PM Pacific, 9 PM EST for the old DWRL series’, and SARA’s series’ will be running in the 8 PM Pacific, 11 PM EST timeslot. I don’t know if we’re standardizing those next season or not, but that’s a long way off!

Q: How many drivers, on average, come out to race with your league per week?

A: Our flagship series, the Sportsman Street Stocks, usually pulls about 22 cars a week on average. The smaller series’ pull anywhere from 8-12 cars a week, which isn’t bad. We’re always looking for more!

The SARA Sportsman Street Stocks line up on the front stretch for the fans.

Q: Are your races publicly or privately hosted?

A: Privately, and as many cars as putting them up publicly can bring. Some of them like to troll and crash all over the place, which can actually be pretty funny, but not when we’re actually trying to race. All someone has to do is join up to our league, and they can race. No passwords or anything like that.

Q: Is your league open to all skill levels of drivers or does it feature skill restrictions (i.e. class ranking or iRating)?

A: Oh yeah, it’s open to anyone who wants to join! The setups in the old DWRL series’ are fixed ,so it’s a good place for new drivers to learn, and it keeps us all on a level playing field. When they’re ready to try out open setups, the Sportsman Street Stocks are a great stepping stone.

Q: What point system, if any, does your league utilize for championship seasons?

A: Last season for the old DWRL classes, we used the NWAAS (NASCAR Whelen All American Series) points table, and we’ll be doing that again this season for the Street Stocks/Late Models, with bonus points for the pole-sitter, seeing as he may end up starting from the back row. The trucks will be using that system, too.

Q: Do you have prizes or trophies for winners in your league?

A: Last Season, the Pro Truck podium finishers (in the championship) took home a combined total of $200! Not to mention that every race winner won $12. This season, we probably won’t be doing prizes, but next season, we should be able to again!

Q: Does your league broadcast races or hold special events (i.e. charity races, etc.)?

A: We used to do tape-delayed broadcasts of our Season 1 races. We had our Second Life guys come in and commentate them. We might do that again sometime, especially with how good the races were at the end of last season! We don’t have any charity races, but we usually do a big ‘all star’ race at the end of our season, be it a big figure 8 race, a double-header at Charlotte (legends, and oval) or the aforementioned Spa race this season.

The epitome of white-knuckle racing, SARA hosts Figure 8 competitions every week.

Q: What is one memorable race or moment that happened in your league that is well-known with your members?

A: Ooh, that’s a tough one. In our first season, we had this pileup at South Boston, where about eight or nine of us totaled our cars in the space of a good five seconds. It was pandemonium! Although, I think more memorable than that one, was the finish we had in the Street Stock Tour at Okayama last season. One driver was running on fumes, and the other was wide open from saving fuel. It looked like a bracket race coming down the front stretch! The finale of last season, a driver entering his second race took home his first victory by coming through a huge pileup. Then there was that time Parker Kligerman joined one of our test-races and proceeded to kick all of our butts! That was pretty humbling.

Q: iRacing has come a long way with helping leagues become more well-known within the iRacing community. What is one thing that you believe iRacing could do to further assist leagues and their admins?

A: You know, I think it’d be pretty cool if iRacing could help us get promoted by featuring us in articles on inRacing news– hey wait a minute! Here we are!

Other than that, the only thing I could ask for is to let people join mixed class races who don’t own one of the cars in the session, but I hear they’re already working on that. They’re working on a ton of stuff, really, and a lot of it will be very helpful, not just for league admins, but for all iRacers!

 

Interested in joining SARA? Check out their website and Facebook page. Ready to race? Sign up at their iRacing.com league page!

Want to create your own iRacing.com league or join a previously established one, like DWRL or SARA? Check out iRacing’s “How-to” video on doing just that, as well as checking out the Featured Leagues page. iRacing Leagues Spotlight will return in two weeks!

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