May 16th, 2009 by KevinB
NASCAR and iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations announced today that the two organizations are joining forces to create a NASCAR-sanctioned online racing series, a new competition division that will be licensed by NASCAR and organized and hosted by iRacing. Beginning early in 2010, NASCAR fans anywhere in the world will be able to log onto the internet and compete against one another, as well as a number of NASCAR drivers, in an official NASCAR series featuring digital duplicates of real-world NASCAR cars and tracks in the most realistic NASCAR racing environment ever created.
“The online world is an ever growing marketplace filled with NASCAR fans. To provide those fans with the most realistic NASCAR racing environment, iRacing was the right partner for us,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR managing director of licensed products. “Bill France, Jr. had the original vision for this series more than ten years ago. He foresaw a day when NASCAR fans could experience NASCAR’s side-by-side racing from the comfort of their own homes; that day has come. The iRacing product is so realistic, that a number of our NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose and Colin Braun are already iRacing members, which makes it even better. From the beginning, these drivers have raved about the incredible accuracy of the cars and the tracks that iRacing has produced and their involvement, along with NASCAR Competition, in the development will make the experience even more authentic.”
More than 12,000 members have signed up for iRacing’s online racing service since it was opened to the public in August, 2008. iRacing uses laser-scanning and other advanced technology to produce tracks that are millimeter-accurate duplicates of their real-world counterparts and race cars of similar visual and mechanical fidelity. The inventory of vehicles currently available to iRacing members features racing cars from Chevrolet, one of NASCAR’s automotive partners, including the Silverado, as raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and versions of the Impala SS as raced both in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. iRacing has either completed or is in the process of building virtually every track on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.
“Our members are passionate about racing,” said John Henry, iRacing’s co-founder and chairman. “They love to drive, and they love to compete. And they do it in the context of their overall love for racing in both the physical and virtual worlds. We’re pleased that iRacing has been chosen as the home of NASCAR-Sanctioned Online Racing and expect that many of NASCAR’s most avid fans will find iRacing’s NASCAR-sanctioned series a great way to deepen their connection to and enjoyment of the sport.”
Henry noted that iRacing’s online racing is available to anyone with a current PC, a broadband internet connection and an inexpensive PC-compatible steering wheel and pedal set (available from most consumer-electronics retailers) Subscriptions to iRacing’s online service, which permit virtually unlimited racing, are $19.00 per month, with annual subscriptions available for just $13.00 per month.
“This is one form of racing that is affordable to the average racing fan,” Henry said. “We provide our members with the opportunity to develop the same driving skills they see their favorite NASCAR stars using every weekend, for a fraction the cost of their monthly phone bill.”
Henry noted that Earnhardt’s enthusiasm for iRacing’s vision had helped sustain the company through four years of pre-release development, and thanked him for his help in making other drivers and fans aware of the service.
“I’ve been involved with iRacing since the alpha-testing days, and even used the service to prepare for my own testing and racing,” said Earnhardt, who is also a member of iRacing’s competition committee. “But the main thing is being able to get online pretty much anytime and have fun racing with other people who enjoy it as much as I do. I’ve helped iRacing develop their stock cars, but this isn’t something I’d do for money; it’s about having fun.”
iRacing currently organizes 12 online road-racing and oval-track series arranged in a graduated format that permits members to increase their driving skills as they proceed up the ladder. The NASCAR-sanctioned series will offer fans the opportunity to compete under the same organizational umbrella as the stars they watch compete each weekend, and sometimes to compete head-to-head with them in the virtual world.
“Across the board, the talent level of the drivers that we see in our sport today is at an all-time high,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “To be able to compete against the best, it takes a tremendous amount of commitment and practice on the part of our drivers. Over the years, many of our drivers have helped develop their skills by participating in virtual training like iRacing. It’s exciting to now have an online NASCAR sanctioned series like iRacing that will be entertaining for our fans and help provide them with a greater understanding of what it takes to be a NASCAR race car driver.”
Further details on the 2010 NASCAR-sanctioned series will be made available later this year.