As many of you already know, iRacing is a racing simulator that allows you to get behind the wheel of many real-world race cars. iRacing allows you, the fan, to actually get behind the wheel of a race car and experience what its like to actually drive around the track. Recently, I had the privilege to speak with iRacing President Tony Gardner, and he told us some general features about iRacing, as well as some new features that are going to be added to iRacing in the near future (which he will explain in part 2).
This is part one of a two-part interview series.
SCS: Can you describe what iRacing is primarily about? What makes iRacing so unique?
Tony Gardner: iRacng.com is a PC based (versus console) on-line racing game that simulates real world racing in just about every aspect. To use a gaming acronym, we are essentially an MMO. For those not familiar with sim racing, it is pretty easy to get going especially with iRacing which is a centralzed on-line service. You simply need a wheel and pedal set (which you can pick up at an electronic retailer or buy at an online store like Amazon). You then plug the wheel and pedal set into your USB port of your computer, the wheel simply attaches to your desk, you can take it on and off in seconds, and then go to iracing.com and down load it. In a short amount of time you are racing against other people from around the world from your home computer. Think of looking out the cockpit of your car, driving at Daytona with 42 other cars out on the track with you and racing against them head to head. It is real fun.
SCS: What are some of the main features of iRacing?
Tony Gardner: iRacing is a full service and community with robust features and graphics, in which we are always adding more. The racing and features are mirror world racing which includes the rules and we have an official sanctioning body. There are over 30 official series but you can also race in private leagues, test on the track by yourself, run open practices with others, and run time trials in competition. We have mixed class racing, fixed setup racing, night racing, tournament racing, special events, tournaments, etc. The features are too numerous to explain but iRacing comes with a full garage to tune your car, driving aids if you need them, an interactive video racing school, an achievements program and an awards program. iRacing is also know for laser-scanned tracks and for the incredibly sophisticated physics models that we use to build the cars and tracks.
SCS: One thing that really makes iRacing unique is your partnerships with many racing series. Can you explain several racing series that are licensed for iRacing?
Tony Gardner: Like I said we have over 30 official series in iRacing with over 1,500 official races going off every week. Many of those series are not only official iRacing Series but we have also partnered with real world racing organizations who wanted to have official an online racing series. For example, if you go to NASCAR.com you will see iRacing listed as a National Series. You can look at the schedule and standings for our Pro Series right under their big 3 National Series. We have calls with them every week to discuss the series and work on it with them. We have the same type of partnerships and series on iRacing with Grand-Am, IndyCar, and Super v8 from Australia and more on the way. We also officially license every car and track and work closely with our partners to make the cars and tracks as close to reality is possible and go to great expense to do that.
SCS: Can you tell our readers about what cars and tracks are available? Can you buy additional tracks/cars? If so, in what ways can I pay to buy the additional tracks/cars?
Tony Gardner: We have about 30 cars on iRacing and over 50 tracks and release more all the time. Since this is a NASCAR site, I am pleased to say we have just about every Sprint Cup track, as well as many short tracks in North America. All of the major NASCAR vehicles including the Sprint Car, Nationwide Car and Truck are available to purchase. With that being said, we also focus on Road Racing and have a great collection of those cars and tracks as well from around the world.
Let me explain the pricing in detail as that is often misunderstood. In summary, you buy your subscription for any length of time that you want (1 month, 3 months, 1 year or 2 years). All subscriptions include 6 cars and 9 tracks, our full premium service and racing all you want 24/7. If you want to buy additional cars they cost a one-time fee of $11.95. If you want to buy additional tracks they cost a one-time fee of either $11.95 or $14.95 depending on the track. If you buy 3 pieces of content (cars or tracks) at once you also receive a discount of 10%. I f you buy 6 pieces of content at once you receive a discount of 20% If you own all the cars and tracks, every new car or track you buy gets discounted at 25%. We also are routinely running pricing specials for content and membership renewals.
We are not trying to hide any costs and think we are a great value. We are priced the way we are so we fit into just about anyone’s budget and everyone receives the premium service no matter what they can afford. You don’t have to buy all the cars and tracks at once and in fact many people never buy or very slowly buy additional cars and tracks. Other people buy them all right away but most fall in-between.
SCS: In iRacing, players have the chance to participate in racing series, and world championships. Can you talk about the world championships, and racing series and how players can be eligible to participate?
Tony Gardner: Like I said, we partnered with real-world racing organizations like NASCAR and basically have a multi-tiered competition to get the best of the best into one weekly series that we call the World Championship for NASCAR. They are essentially the best sim racers in the world. Many real world Pro Drivers also compete in iRacing and also use iRacing to keep sharp. Anyway, the winner of the series gets paid $10,500 and we pay down to 12th place. It is really cool. We broadcast the races and you can go to our website at iRacing.com to see the broadcast schedule. A pictures worth a thousand words. So if you watch a NIRS race, you will get an idea about iRacing.
SCS: That is really cool. Now lets say I was playing a sim-racing game for the first-time, and I’ve never had any type of racing experience. Can anyone (novice, or advanced) pick up iRacing and have fun with the game?
Tony Gardner: Yes indeed. We welcome everyone. You don’t need any experience at all. We have rookie series, fun racing, and all the practice time you want until you get comfortable and then move up to higher levels. Many people just like to race with friends or find people with similar interests and drive with them. With over 30,000 members on iRacing, there is plenty of diversity.
SCS: Final question. Can you explain what the web-based iRacing community site does for the user?
Tony Gardner: Well, we have tried (and I think very successfully) to make iRacing not only a racing game or simulation, but also a community of like-minded people who like racing and simply enjoy some fun and fellowship. We have chat servers, forums, all sorts of websites built around iRacing, a monthly on-line TV program, a online newspaper called “inRacing News” that covers all the action and profiles members.