“Racing incidents happen.” — Nim Cross

I must say that Nim’s statement is very accurate and profound.  There have been literally thousands of forum strings, emails, video reviews, opinions and discussions over the years about how to deal with those cursed incidents and accidents on iRacing.   Passionate discussions and ideas abound about the sporting code, safe driving, unsafe driving, intentional wrecking, blocking, sportsmanship, acceptable behavior, flaws in the protest system and ideas for more automation  . . . to name a few.

There have also been literally thousands of protests filed by concerned members regarding perceived violations of the iRacing sporting code by other members.  In 2010, for example, there were 1,945 protests filed and 3,541 filed in 2011. Those numbers only include accepted protests in which we created a “case.”   In the past, if there was some missing information in the protest submission (for example, a replay if the protest was a racing-based incident) an accepted “case” was NOT created in our CRM system.  Therefore, there were actually quite a few more protests than the numbers show above.  More on that later.

As iRacing's membership rolls have increased so have the number of racing incidents . . . and protests.

“What is a CRM system you might ask? Or maybe you don’t really care!  Well if you care it stands for Customer Relationship Management.  It is a third party software package that records the complete history of our interaction with each iRacing member.  We can see all the details about your membership, what you purchased, how long you have been a member, if you have called customer service and, if so, exactly why you called and how it has been resolved.  FYI, we create a case for everything in customer service/technical support in the CRM system as well.   We track how long cases are open, the result, how long before we contacted you back if you did not reach us live and things like that.

Like I said, we also use this system for protests (and appeals for that matter) so that everything is documented for each case created.  Each member has a permanent historical record. For example, if 10 protests are filed against a member we know that; we also know how we resolved each protest. Staying with that example, we know if 10 different people filed the protests or if the same person filed 10 protests against that particular member.    We track both sides of the protest in the system.

iRacing.com’s protest process is obviously unique in the world of sim racing or racing games. The centralized service itself including official racing is equally unique.   How did this all come about?   When we started iRacing, we felt the single biggest obstacle to the continuing evolution of online racing – even more than the technical challenges – was the lack of a global sim racing community.

“We felt the single biggest obstacle to the continuing evolution of online racing . . . was the lack of a global sim racing community.”

Additionally, there was no decent centralized arena for public racing and competition.  In other words, it was a completely fragmented community and sport (or hobby, depending on how you look at it).   Part of that was because there was no method for managing the frustration caused by wreckers or racers consistently driving over their heads and skill level, etc.   As a result, sim racers often gave-up racing on public servers even when the technology was available and retreated back to the safety of their small groups or private leagues.
We set out to change that.  Don’t get me wrong: Leagues are great.   But we wanted to create (or at least re-invent) the sport of sim-racing so that there was an enjoyable and challenging environment for drivers of all experience and abilities, from “amateur” all the way up to pros; one that  would attract real-world sanctioning bodies and create a world-wide sense of community.  To do that you need to have public, open racing competition.  But how do you get people to behave and drive appropriately based on their skill?  That was obviously one of the fundamental questions we faced, and there was no easy solution.

We thought about the question long and hard from all the angles and niches of sim racers, including brand new sim racers.  We worked even longer and harder to implement what we believed was a practical system that addressed those issues.  As a result, we developed and engineered into the service our incident system, our license class and promotion system, our division system, our safety rating system, and our iRating system.  That is just some of the automated functionality we built into the system — all to foster an environment of clean, public racing.  We continue thinking about those issues and how well our systems are addressing them as well as whether what, if any, additional automation is desirable.  And, needless to say, we have already tweaked all of those features many times over along our journey.

Of course, we also decided to take it to the next step and create our own sanctioning and governing racing body which we called FIRST.  We created a full Sporting Code at the core of FIRST to lay out the expectations and rules for racing, including a protest process and appeal system in which a racing steward would review and arbitrate each protest.  We spent a lot of time deciding the tone and the goals of the protest process.  Along the way we have tweaked and altered our approach based on what we have learned over the years reviewing and discussing thousands of protests.   As many have said — and it is true — we are also a for-profit software company, not just a racing sanctioning body.  Luckily, we found the goals of both to be mainly in concert.

Our goal is simple.  Create a good, clean racing and family environment for our members no matter your level of skill or passion. Easier said than done.  With all the built-in systems like license class and safety rating geared to reward clean driving, we still get thousands of protests per year.  That’s not really a shock, I suppose. Thankfully, there are a lot of people doing a lot of racing.  I often say (and our marketing material states) we have over 1,500 official races per week.  In fact, the numbers are much higher, as that 1,500 figure only counts the starting times of the different series and races.  When you take into account all the different splits, we actually have well over 5,000 official races per week – which adds-up to more than 250,000 unique races every year.   No wonder our membership has driven over 500,000,000 laps!  That is a lot of potential for racing incidents, frustration and tempers to flare!   Luckily flaring tempers are the exception not the rule.

We obviously can’t have a race steward in every race, not by a long shot.  Even if we did that does not solve all the problems.  For example,  we do have live race stewards for our World Championship races.   In fact we have three or four experienced stewards in each race, plus an additional video incident review system in which four other people review each incident!  With all that there is still controversy and second-guessing!  I guess just like the NASCAR Sprint Series or any real-world series, even with just one race per week to officiate, it is tough to keep everyone happy and there are still problems!

iRacing hardly has a monopoly on disagreements between officials and competitors.

Contrary to what some might think, our system works pretty well.   We are assigning fault or no fault which, by its very nature, is going to upset one or both parties.  Sometimes we catch someone simply completely losing control.  Those are the easy cases.  Other times, it is more subtle and everything in between.  Often it is hard to know what really happened and what truly was someone’s intention.  Did someone purposely block you or did they lose concentration because their son walked across the room?   Maybe they just messed-up and did not see you.   That is why the CRM system is so important for racing-based protests.  Is this the first time the guy blocked someone or dived-bombed someone in a corner?  Or is this the third time they have been protested for the same behavior?  If it’s the third time, what happened with the other cases?  Is it the third time out of 2,000 races or the third time in 10 races?   What are the two different sides saying?  Is the person at fault understanding the issue, being respectful and willing to work at correcting it?  Are their actions consistent with what they are saying they will do to correct it or are they full of hot air? Those sort of questions factor into whether we decide to coach someone and offer suggestions, warn them or remove them from the system for a period of time.

Earlier I provided the number of protest cases created, so now let me offer you a number for another category: punishments. In 2010 we suspended 224 people for a specific length of time and banned 43 outright.  Banned means there is no time table in allowing them to rejoin iRacing.  It could mean forever.  In 2011 we suspended 598 people and banned 52.

We are certainly not proud, nor do we feel good about, suspending someone.  But the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few at the end of the day.  (By the way another Star Trek reference is below)  If one person is ruining the experience for many, especially habitually, we take action.  For the record, we get criticized that we are too tough on people . . . and too easy on people.

“Are we completely satisfied with the protest system and process?  No, not completely.  It works but there’s always room to improve and we will.”

That brings me to the next subject.  Are we completely satisfied with the protest system and process?  No, not completely.  It works but like anything on iRacing, there’s always room to improve and we will.

One thing we did in the software update/build just a couple weeks ago that was not mentioned in the software release notes was give ourselves a lot more flexibility.  In the past, we had three choices: Suspend someone, shut off their in-sim communication (voice chat and or text chat) or make the forums “read only.”  (I guess a fourth would be a combination of making forums “read only” and shut off text chat. Actually, we could also shut off their forums completely.)

Anyway, with just those three basic choices (in-sim communication, forums, suspend from service), some tough decisions had to be made that frankly in some cases could have been more fair.  But our options were limited.  In some cases, we wanted to send a message for an incident but felt at the end of the day a suspension was too tough a penalty, so the person merely received a warning when something more serious may have been warranted.  On the flip side, in some cases we felt something had to be done and while a suspension was too tough we did it anyway because, again, that was the tool we had.

The goal of the iRacing protest system is close, clean and enjoyable racing for everyone.

The good news is with this build we have added several options to the three we already had.  Now we can suspend parts of the service to a member for a period of time instead of suspending them from the whole service.  (Although we can and will still suspend people from the service entirely.)   For example, we can suspend people from “contact” with other members, so they will still be able to test and time trial but will be ineligible to participate in race sessions with other members.  We can suspend people from public racing but they can still do hosted sessions, time trials and testing.  We can suspend people just from official racing and qualifying but they can do everything else including hosted sessions and open practice.   We now have about seven or eight options, giving us much more flexibility.  In addition, now if you are suspended from some part of the service (not including in-sim communication or forums), you will be able to see when the full service will be restored.   That comes under the heading “better communication.”

You’re still reading this?  Wow, good for you.  Might as well finish reading at this point.

Earlier, I noted that we create a “case” for every properly submitted protest.  Going forward we will create a case for every protest, properly submitted or not, because that is also valuable information in several regards.  We have also created more categories of protests, so we can review things on a macro-level and identify trends.  We have also reviewed all of our form letters, added some new ones and rewritten some old ones, and revised our criteria for when to use which letters.  We have also given ourselves more room to include additional detail and notes when communicating with members, and have encouraged our race stewards to take advantage of that opportunity.  This is important because using the correct reply letter and providing added detail can be the difference between a member getting even more frustrated or starting to at least understand our position.   Again, communication is critical.  On that note, we plan on providing macro level protest results each quarter.

If you have been a bad boy or girl, you may have also seen less of Nim Cross’s name recently.  Nim is our chief race steward and, for those of you who are new to the service, he has historically reviewed every single protest.   The reason you won’t see Nim’s name as much is not because he doesn’t treat each protest with an unrelenting sense of urgency or because he is not super awesome; it is because we are adding more resources in this area so Nim might not be the one reviewing your protest in the future.  You will start seeing emails from the race steward’s office instead of from Nim.  I wish we had many more people in this area, because they could really get involved in not only reviewing protests but in more “positive” measures like coaching and personal feedback, and also serving  as “random” in-race stewards and being available for secondary protest review as a matter of process.

“Another big project in the works is automating the protest process.”

You may say, why not have the community get involved to help?  They know sim racing and proper sportsmanship.  Although I agree that is very true, the protest process really needs to be very organized.  Everything needs to be documented in our systems properly, and internal communication is also a key.  Long story short, we absolutely must be able to count on people doing this as a job.

We’ll keep thinking about resources and how we might tackle that within our budget, but automation could help as well.  For example, there’s a project on the table now that would automatically boot a driver from a race if he gets xyz incident points.  Hit the magic number and race control would black flag the driver, and he’d be forced to the pits for good.  Then the guy/lady can’t race again until the steward flips the switch.

I wouldn’t worry about this being too draconian.  We would start pretty high, for example 20+ incident points in a race as the threshold, but at least it will take that guy out of the race who is just a menace.  You know the guy I am talking about!    He will eventually get suspended anyway probably and have a hundred excuses, but this just gets him out fast until we can figure out what is going on before he or she does any more damage.

Another big project in the works is automating the protest process.  It always bothered me that protests are probably filed at a member’s peak of frustration.  As it is now, they have to thumb (or scroll) through the sporting code with their eyes glazing over reading that thing, trying to figure out what to do — and all the while steam is coming out their ears because some hero wrecked them on the last lap and they got ripped-off from their first podium!


Believe me, it’s not our intention for iRacing to trigger Kirk-like facial expressions!   With the automation or semi-automation of the protest process, you will be able to click on “File a Protest.”   There will be a drop-down requiring you to fill out necessary information including a drop down of the key Sporting Code sections, and all you have to do is click on it.  The process will be very intuitive.

Obviously, since it will be so much easier to file a protest, we may institute a one hour waiting (cooling-off) period or something like that before you can file a protest  in order to minimize the frivolous protests.  We’re still thinking about that to some degree.

Just like most things worthwhile, sim racing is very tough for most of us – which is probably why we like it so much.    On that note, I want to sincerely thank all of our members for being unbelievably patient with one another and incredibly supportive of each other generally on the track, because we all make mistakes.  Also, thanks also for being patient and supportive of us as we try manage the racing here because, as Nim said, racing incidents do happen.    All these things we have worked on are very important and we will continue to try and make your time on track as pleasurable as we can — but all of you are what makes that work at the end of the day!!!

Good racing,


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Six pages discussing the protest system? Good, but what about six pages discussing what really matters to the simulation? 🙂

May 11th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I love iracing but there are way to many people on there that take it way to far. I race in the lower levels still and there are a lot of racers from the higher ranks who like to belittle and bully us guys just trying to learn how to make ten laps without wreaking and we need experience with other cars on the track. I get really turn off when people act badly towards us “rookies”. There needs to be a way to race with simulated cars to gain experance racing around other cars without getting your head bit off!!

Rookie Racer
May 11th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Excellent! Thanks, Tony and team, for putting so much effort into making this service so great, and for constantly looking at ways to make improvements.

Steve Luvender
May 11th, 2012 at 8:52 pm

How about rewarding the driver that was not at fault with the SR that was lost during the Inc and docking it from the driver at fault

May 11th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Good stuff Tony. Thanks for continuing to evolve this system.

May 11th, 2012 at 9:00 pm

This is pretty cool! I never found the “original” protest system to be that hard to follow, but I know many people who didn’t know where to start filing a protest, hopefully this will help. However, I think a lot of the problems can be solved if some racers realize that everyone is not out to get them. Far too often, I see someone get bumped or nudged, and it instantly becomes a “You tried to wreck me!” thing.

May 11th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Thanks for the article Tony. iR has the BEST online simracing experience, I’m very happy to know it will continue to be better and better in future!!

Antonio Crinò
May 11th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Very informative. Great work guys and girls. Good luck with CRM (I have used this program and it should work well).

Rhett Bunnell
May 11th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Well laid out article. Contrary to…well, only other opinion here, I think this issues is central to the whole concept of community racing. So it’s good to see an article explaining the ins and outs of the process and showing improvements and a roadmap.

I wonder though, will there ever come a point where we can recoup the SR points we lose when we are the victim of an attack? Or is there a fear that this sort of system would end up being abused?

My first road victory was actually stolen from me on the second to last lap by a guy who came out of the pits wanting to wreck the leader (or so I assume.) I didn’t see him coming until I was sideways… The 4x incident points from that were a real slap in the face after being wrecked en route to my first win.

I just wonder if something can be changed to solve the issue, that’s all.

Jay Carr
May 11th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

We really can’t go back and add incident points or take away points after the race. The whole system is automated and everything is playing off everything else across the whole service. Start changing the history of the data and you really need to go change for everyone, Safety rating, iRating, which impacts race results, championship points,etc. There are other things we could consider but that is not a good option for us, to manually start changing things after the fact.

Tony G
May 11th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thanks for the informative article! I’ve always thought about some sort of fault claiming system. If I spin someone else out, and I take full responsibility for it, I should be able to take fault for it in the sim, and the victim doesn’t get SR docked. If I think we both were at fault, I don’t claim fault and we both get docked, like the current system…

Is this possible?

Thanks Tony!

Brian Schoffstall
May 11th, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Really?? This is all part of what “really matters in the simulation”! You must have been protested recently….lol

May 11th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I have to agree with Rookie Racer here. I can hold my own with just about anyone, as well as hold my line in any car in the service. HOWEVER!, I have gotten in only a few races in the Class A ovals. I could really car less to drive with 99% of those people. They say or do whatever they wish and most (not all) will treat someone new pretty badly. it really amazes me why some people even have to ask why there are no new drivers in a few series. It’s all pretty much out in the open as far as that answer goes… Nothing is ever done about that though…

Joe Hubbard
May 11th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I would recommend adding AI cars as an option during test sessions. This would give people the option to practice around other cars without pissing people off. It also gives you a chance to learn a track and should limit accidents in the real races.

May 11th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

It’s great to see the subscriber’s most highly debated issues regarding the protest system when it comes to concerns and system design are coming to fruition.

Dennis Heaney
May 11th, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Agree with Rookie Racer… I find friendlier people on Gran Turismo 5. Not fun racing with jerks.

May 11th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Fascinating. I’ve been a member for five months and had to file a protest after someone in one of the big event races (won’t be specific which one) deliberately took me out. We’re talking cut right across the track to stop me unlapping myself from him. He moved out of the way, and waited until I was by the side of him to swerve right across into me.

No idea what the outcome was but checking his record it appears iRacing suspended him.

I love the idea of black flagging drivers with 20+ incident points. Especially in the lower series. Some of those drivers have no business being on track. Most rookies are okay. It’s just 1% maybe.

So very glad I’m A in both road and oval now.

May 11th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Ok, so I made Nim’s job easy. The protests I filed were very easy, cut & dried matters. To his credit, I never saw the aforementioned scumbags again!

The other matters I tried to deal with in a respectful personal way. Do you really want to block me on Lap 1 of a 25 lap race? Ok, but remember you reap what you sow. If you are confused,I am willing to help you understand.

At the end of the day, it’s like everything else in life. The liberals won’t like this, but there is a certain percentage of the population that are unrecoverable scumbags. We all know this and we see it in everyday life. I know Nim has seen this with all the repeat offenders he has dealt with. Do us all a favor and get rid of these people. Ok, you will lose their fees, but I suspect you will more than make up for it by adding more serious racers.

Dare I say it? Yes, age restrictions. Please, 8 and 9 year olds do not have the maturity to deal with this level of competition.

Ok, I can complain all I want, but I also need to bring something to the community. I am more than willing to help review protests, gratis (well, you could throw me some content or whatever 🙂 ). But, I think we all have a responsibility to police ourselves.

It’s just sad that we devote so much virtual ink to the rotten 5%. Oh well, time to go racing!

Jeff Renz
May 12th, 2012 at 12:00 am

Nice note!!

Luis Babboni
May 12th, 2012 at 12:27 am

I’m interested in applying for a racing official position as mentioned above. I have over 4yrs experience working as a photo finish judge for a dog track and I have been racing online since N2003.

Nick Lockard
May 12th, 2012 at 12:36 am

Extremely proud of Tony and the team for making these steps as well as his candor in this challenging part of this awesome service.

Steven Grant Sidebotham
May 12th, 2012 at 1:57 am

Should make the protest system like they do my local track. You blame someone for using a engine or part and they dont find nothing then you get charged money, (Saftey Rating or Irating) if the person is found guilty then nothing happens to you the protester. But if someone if just mad on a small tap ect ect and the person who did a small tap is found incent then the protester is charged. This will keep the protests down.

Robert Howington
May 12th, 2012 at 2:08 am

Great Job Iracing like where you started, where you been and where it seems your heading! Iracing really thinks things out and while I have seen a few drivers who really need to be removed, I think that percentage is 1% and then maybe 3 or so percent just need to know that they can’t get away with taking the fun out of it for everyone.

Far as the comment from Rookie drivers not all but most of why you might be having a hard time from higher level drivers is because your trying to jump up classes to quickly! Believe me I understand that not always the case but for some it is. All I can say is be respectful when moving up into a new class and I think in a short time you’ll be having fun with most at least that is what I have seen. The key is remember we are all rookies at some point in each class, if what I’m saying is not true they how did the other 4,000 racers who were rookies at one time become ok with each other on the track? There will always be crashes and there will always be a small number of poor sportsmen in Iracing as there is in any thing you do!

Again Iracing Thank You & Welcome to all Rookies and Non-rookies.

a racing friend Gary #71 Untamed Motorsports

Gary Holbrook
May 12th, 2012 at 2:10 am

In reply to Gary Holbrook, yes this is a month later but what the heck, Rookie has a point that is all too true. Two years ago when I joined iRacing I was racing the Solstice at Laguna Seca and got told to get off the track and learn how to race. This was in voice and I checked who the driver was and why there was a black stripe across the back of his car? Do I need to say anymore? This jerk was a pro-series driver with an iRating of 1.x racing in the rookie-rookie races, in other words it was like my first race.

Those people are the ones who ruin it for everyone. I couldn’t wait to get out of the rookie cars and get into better fields. Big mistake for me. My iRating is in the 700’s now and has been for two years and will probably stay there. I tried to get away from the jerks and they followed me. I didn’t protest then because I blamed myself for being a noob. That feeling is gone now, but someones sig from the forums says exactly the attitude I’m talking about (and I do remember who had this but I will not say here), “Hell hath no fury as a hot lapper blocked by a noob.” I think that qualifies as ’nuff said.

Jack Hutchinson
June 22nd, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I am thankful iRacing spends the time and money for us to protest.
Without out protests that WereGonnaLoose guy along with a bunch of copycats would be wrecking havoc on the servers.
I hate to send in protests but at the end of the day I know that I am making the service a better place for us all.
I don’t understood why people whine about the protest system- copy and paste the example given in the Sporting Code, fill in the blanks and attach the replay.

As for the Rookies and new guys, pay no attention to the idiots (don’t forget you can mute individual drivers.) But I have to say that if you can’t run 10 laps without wrecking you should not be in a practice or race session to begin with. Racing with other cars while you cannot control yours is never going to work out. Use the spectate function for practices until you are race ready.

May 12th, 2012 at 3:54 am

I’m glad to see iRacing is on to this problem. There is a lot that can be done with computerized statistical information. I’ve seen some drivers, that I KNOW will crash out before the race is over. When I look at their iRacing career, I see they’ve dropped much IR over the course of many races, yet they are still racing in the same class, still doing damage to the series they’re in. I think it can be programmed to pick up alarming patterns. What was once a safe driver, is now a demon on the track, taking people out left and right. Maybe they haven’t hit the magic number in one particular race, but his season, taken as a whole, is just one wreck fest. Those are the drivers we need to put on notice, and at least let them know, someone is watching.

John G. Hill
May 12th, 2012 at 7:21 am

The protest system is currently a joke. Glad they’re at least trying to do something about it because it’s honestly the worst part of iRacing currently…besides the actual people you’re trying to report lol.

Todd Sherley
May 12th, 2012 at 8:56 am

I worry though. I’ve been in races at tracks like Martinsville where I’ve picked up over 20X just from casual contact that didn’t impede either driver. Just a product close racing with a bit of netcode prediction. I hope the system takes into account not merely incident points racked up but also the consequences of how many incidents actually resulted in loss of control or severe damage before booting said driver.

May 12th, 2012 at 10:58 am

I can tell you a very easy way of automating 90% of Nim’s job too: a swear filter!

May 12th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Tony, That was my attempt at a little subtle humor (very little I would agree) by stating the obvious, that there will be crashes in races and calling it a profound statement.

May 14th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

20 points in one race, as someone said already, gets collected so easily for example if you do 40 laps at Spa, just by trying to push to the limit. There should be a more refined system than just the 20incidents, figuring in length of race, number of turns, number of participants, sr rating of participants etc. I for one have picked up 12 incidents in a first lap just because I avoided contact which ultimately had someone else contacting me which sent me off, do this in t1 and t3, say, and you’re already at 12 or more incidents even if you just tried to avoid the very points you were handed.

Eckhart von Glan
May 18th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Yes how about returning the lost SR due to being rammed in the rear by these idiots who drive with out regard??

If I take the time to lodge a protest and I win it, what would be the difficulty into going into my account and awarding me the lost SR that was deducted for the incident??

And please don’t give the excuse that it can’t be done, because I work in I.T. and the CRM cannot be that complex that holds that data.

I am extremely frustrated with this reality in Iracing of the loss of SR for every stupid rear-ending that occurs not just at the rookie level (Which I just “Promoted” out of) but in the D Licensing and apparently at all licensing levels from the numerous forum posting’s I have read.

September 17th, 2012 at 7:33 am


November 29th, 2012 at 11:02 am

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