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This week’s interview is with Tony Gardner, President of iRacing.com. iRacing is an online racing simulator website that has become somewhat of the “gold standard” in it’s field. It’s used as a training tool by aspiring and professional racers world wide via their vast online community (over 40,000 people). NASCAR, Grand Am, and Indy are just a few of the racing series that they cater to, and if you’ve ever wanted to train (or just play) like a pro, iRacing is the way to do it – and it’s even affordable!
Tony has been with iRacing since 2008 and has been in the software business for over twenty years. While his background is admittedly more based in computers than cars, he’s learning by exposure to the sport. He said that many of the at iRacing employees are quite into racing though and are very enthusiastic about it!
iRacing itself has roots going back 20 years to the Papyrus Design Group with titles like “Indianapolis 500:The Simulation”, “Grand Prix Legends”, and “Nascar 2003”. They use real race car mechanics and engineers in designing the vehicles so the dynamics and handing are as real as possible (they even have a former road race crew chief and a Sprint Cup crew member on staff to keep things accurate).
Their designers work closely with the racing manufacturers and race teams to utilize the latest technology and how it applies to vehicle dynamics. Car parts are measured, weighed, and scanned live on site for each new car design. The car is then programmed into the database based on those measurements and calculations. Per the iRacing website this attention to detail and accuracy means “It feels real because, mathematically, it is real”.
The race tracks are very important part of the iRacing experience. Many of the tracks have been laser scanned for ultimate in track fidelity.
The scanning creates millions of data points and an exact representation of every bump, twist, turn, and dip on the track including signs and object next to the track can then be exactly reproduced in the simulation.
Many tracks have already been scanned in and more are planned from around the world. Tony told me that every sprint cup track will be online later this year for a very real simulated racing series.
To experience iRacing in the fullest, you will need a feedback steering wheel and a throttle pedal set (review the requirements for using iRacing on their website). If you would like to see more of what Sim Racing is all about, iRacing broadcasts races live on your PC and mobile devices http://www.iracing.com/live. Tony said some races are even broadcast on MRN and some Fox venues.
In addition to all of that, iRacing is the location of an actual NASCAR sanctioned virtual race series, the “NASCAR iRacing.com Series World Championship” with the results posted directly on NASCAR’s own website NASCAR.com. You can watch these races, plus Grand Prix and other events, live on the iRacing website. Just like the real racers, if you participate you’ll work your way up from rookie to professional status in the Official Racing Series, or you can race against your friends and start your own league!
As a Muscle Car Place exclusive, Tony told us that iRacing is currently only available on Windows PC BUT will very soon be released for Mac and Linux operating systems. He also mentioned that some classic muscle cars may soon make their way into iRacing as well!
Thanks for the interview Tony!
This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot – your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!