Much more than a pointless official license tie-in, iRacing’s NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series is the highest level of oval racing available in the popular online-only racing simulation. Offering a $10,000 prize for the top 50 drives on iRacing’s oval side to chase over the course of an entire year, the series has recently run into a bit of a rough patch regarding presentation and officiating issues; some of which we’ve covered before here on PRC.net.
Currently, the roster of drivers have virtually no say in how the series operates, which is a pretty big deal, as 50 of the best sim racers around the world are dedicating a large chunk of their time competing for a video game championship, a series that operates with a level of legitimacy no greater than your average rFactor league. Given that the events act as an ambassador for competitive online racing as a whole, and legitimate sponsorship deals are involved, it’s vital for the long-term success of the series that every effort is made to go above and beyond the petty issues of private sim racing leagues.
This is their attempt at changing all of that, as suggested by the drivers themselves.
This document has been sent into us numerous times by several iRacing members competing in or assisting the operations of the Peak Anti-Freeze Series, and the entire document can be downloaded here to explore at your own free will. To cut right to the important bits, we’re going to point out the five most important things we’ve learned from this document.
The drivers committee is calling for a total revamp of live race broadcasts, starting with an open Google document allowing for each driver to submit their own storylines and biographies before the upcoming race. According to the document, basically none of this has been happening beforehand, and whoever is tasked with commentating the race are simply creating storylines and false information on the spot throughout the duration of the broadcast. The truth is, the guys in the booth have no idea what’s going on 99% of the time, and are no better or worse than private leagues streaming races for the fun of it with whoever felt like announcing that night. Given that the Peak Anti-Freeze Series is heavily advertised by iRacing and the ultimate goal for any serious racer on the service, now’s not the time to have someone’s Teamspeak volume out of whack, or talk about nothing of value during a fuel run.
Currently, iRacing generates pit service times based on a random chance number generator, one which drivers obviously cannot control. As iRacing is a video game, and there are no physical crew members changing tires or putting fuel into the car who are prone to making mistakes, it is unfair to the drivers to leave an integral part of oval racing up to a random number generator. The Drivers Committee are calling for a pit stop system which rewards drivers for how accurately they can stop inside the box, instead of one which can fuck over somebody’s race for no reason at all.
As with all competitions, whether they’re out in the real world, or taking place on a computer screen, tempers flare up, and people want to hit each other. Occasionally, within the confines of the iRacing.com servers, this results in intentional wrecking, and there isn’t exactly a way to undo somebody’s car being sent into the catch fence. In real life, obviously everyone lives with the threat of being hurt, but in a video game, there is nothing stopping someone from intentionally hampering someone’s shot at $10,000 by plowing into them under caution. The Drivers Committee believe the best way to curb any ridiculous behavior in a professional setting is to withhold everyone’s prize money until the end of the season, allowing officials to step in and hand out penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Painting a rather grim picture of official emails and pre-race instructions, the Drivers Committee asks for a much more professional relationship between competitors and race officials. Peak Anti-Freeze Series drivers politely state that formal emails are poorly written, rule changes are made without consulting any of the competitors, and the entire operation is essentially run like a private rFactor league with a country club atmosphere among those in charge. Complaints like these should not arise when $10,000 is on the line, and you are representing an entire genre of competitive online video games.
A tin-foil hat conspiracy theory once reserved primarily for readers of PRC.net, NASCAR iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series drivers have outright confirmed our stories of ridiculous bias and childish behavior behind the scenes at iRacing headquarters, calling for an outright overhaul in the way staff members police the virtual race track. The Drivers Committee believe iRacing’s staff members and stewards are inconsistent in handing out penalties, and have tendencies to make completely wrong decisions when it comes to handing out punishments for both on-track and off-track behavior. Currently, iRacing staff member Shannon Whitmore is the sole steward in charge of the Peak Anti-Freeze Series. In extremely politically correct terms, the Drivers Committee want to be able to appeal his decisions, as well as establish a third party appeals board entirely separate from the established appeals board also consisting of iRacing staff, indicating an extremely large amount of bad decisions have been made by official iRacing stewards regarding previous incidents.
Take the time to go through the ten page PDF file, as there are several portions I left out altogether. You will basically never get a glimpse into the inner workings of a professional sim racing league like this, so enjoy this unique opportunity.
Edit: Originally, I mentioned that the series is occasionally broadcast on NBC Sports. I swear I saw someone talking about the 2015 Chicago race being aired on television a few days later on a late night Arena Football-like tape delay time slot, but I can’t find any proof of this. My bad.