Abandoned by the hardcore sim racers of yesteryear, and adopted by an entire new wave of virtual stock car drivers who aren’t entirely sure how to conduct themselves in an online community, the current userbase of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season can be an awkward bunch. When they’re not embarking on lengthy harassment campaigns aimed at prolific individuals in the modding community, the few remaining online leagues tend to be a cesspool of idiocy. Today’s Reader Submission here at PRC.net takes a look at a situation so bizarre, the driver involved may as well have been playing iRacing. I mean, if you’re gonna throw that much money at a private NR2003 league, why not make the natural next step in your sim racing endeavors with a move to a more relevant platform?
Hey PRC. I know it’s been a while since you guys have covered all that weird drama involving the guys at SimRacingDesign, but I’m here to say things over in the competitive side of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season are just as awkward. I’ve got a few stories to share with you over the next little bit, and I guess you can post them as you see fit, but this is what I felt is the best introduction to a community many don’t believe still exists. Yes, that’s right, lots of people are still playing NR2003 in online leagues, though it’s probably not the kinds of people you expect. I will refrain from saying specific names for the sake of some people in this story, but rest assured that these guys do exist, are out there, and will probably see this submission at some point and think “oh God, that’s me!”
So I’ve known this one guy, we’ll call him RZ, for a while. In the few months he’s been racing online with us, his behavior has been questionable at best. The dude basically made an effort to piss off every single driver that raced with him. He often refuses to accept fault for incidents, he gets angry over almost everything, and is pretty reckless compared to the rest of us. It became clear to a few of us that the guy had some psychological problems the more we tried to deal with him, and it did not take long before several leagues started to outright ban him – as they should have. The NR2003 community is small enough, this behavior sticks out like a sore thumb, and frankly isn’t welcome in the slightest. I banned him from my league, a friend of mine followed suit, and soon enough, he was a guy that not a lot of people wanted to have around. And that’s okay, it happens in any competitive gaming circle.
Now, here’s where the trouble starts.
One of the largest online leagues currently active on NR2003 still manages to reel in more than 30 entrants for each event, and there are certain races so large that people actually get sent home in qualifying. As a sim racer, it’s really cool that the element of suspense exists for an online event. RZ joined this league, and several times, was predictably sent home – not fast enough to make the grid. When he would manage to make the show, the guy would often get involved in accidents that triggered his enormous Teamspeak meltdowns, causing other members of the league to instantly label him as a pathetic backmarker. However, RZ DNQ’d on such a consistent basis, I believe he was forced to come up with a way to ensure a spot on the grid regardless of his obvious lack of talent.
Many PRC.net readers are aware that hosting servers for online races in any simulator, at least for a private league, costs a substantial amount of money for guys just hosting this stuff in their spare time as a fun little diversion. This is especially the case for NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, considering every server is a private server; the Sierra online lobbies have been offline for almost a decade now. Anyways, costs became such an issue, that league management essentially said “if you chip in anywhere from $5 to $15 to cover server costs, we’ll list you as the sponsor for the race, give you a t-shirt, and ensure you have a spot on the grid.” All of a sudden, RZ had an idea on how he could secure a spot in every single race no matter how he conducted himself on-track, and it shouldn’t be hard to determine where this is going.
RZ sponsored 9 of the league’s 10 playoff races, guaranteeing him a spot in every race no matter how slow or incompetent he would drive. The guy spent around $100 just to lock himself into online sim races for a game that’s over thirteen years old. Overall, he was the walking definition of a pay driver – something that’s not supposed to exist in sim racing, because it doesn’t need to.
When word got out, a lot of the more vocal members immediately started the memeing. All of the drivers laughed and belittled him, as he was the most hated driver in the league at the time. The admins did their best to calm the shitstorm, but everyone in the proximity of our area of the community found out real quick, and the admins were forced to awkwardly defend him, calling us ungrateful little shits and all that. I mean, when you’re the admin of an obscure online league, some guy practically throwing money at you is pretty valuable in your eyes, but come on, everyone knew what was occurring.
I can understand chipping in some money you have to burn for one or two races. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a small donation, but $100+ just to secure a grid spot for a league that doesn’t offer any sort of prize aside from a trophy? That’s absurd, absolutely fucking absurd. It’s already sad enough that some leagues require you to pay after a certain amount of time just to race for more than one month… but the money could have gone somewhere else in my opinion.
I think three or four years ago, I ran a few races in a pay league for iRacing – that’s where you pay an entry fee, and the winner of each event gets a pretty decent chunk of change. I’ll be honest, the concept of paying an entry fee per race isn’t bad, and given my skill level compared to other drivers in the field, it was only a few weeks before I’d made everything back, and then some, so honestly I can’t knock a league’s decision to involve some sort of monetary aspect to their operation. Provided each entrant is approaching the event with the same mentality, and moderation keeps a very stern watch on the leaders of each race, it can be a sweet way to pay for extra iRacing content, or if we’re talking about a different game, additional DLC. That’s obviously only the case if you’re good, but again, server costs do add up, especially if you’re on an isiMotor title using LiveRacers and all that shit.
But, and this is the important part of your story: moderators weren’t exactly paying attention to how the system was being exploited. When you run a league and get a bunch of pretend officials to watch things over, there are two rules you need to strictly enforce when it comes to shit drivers:
- X Amount of Wrecks = kick/ban
- Failure to maintain minimum driving standards = kick/ban
Every racing series on the planet, from Formula One and WEC, to the bummiest of redneck short tracks, enforce these two rules in some format. If you’re the cause of two cautions at a backwoods Louisiana dirt track, you’re parked for the session. If you can’t operate your vehicle within a certain percent of the race leader’s time, you’re considered a safety hazard to your competitors. It doesn’t matter how much sponsorship money you’ve brought in, and it doesn’t matter who your father knows at the track, being a shitty driver is detrimental to both the safety and the competitive environment of other competitors.
With that being said, I don’t know why all of this has suddenly been dropped, and there is this weird push to be friendly and accommodating to everyone on the internet. If a guy is being an asshole in some online racing league, it’s not the responsibility of the competitors to play online psychologists and craft him into slightly less of an asshole so your league can continue to operate on his dime. This accomplishes nothing and aggravates everybody. From an officiating standpoint, having one asshole mad at league officials for giving him the boot after several instances of shitty driving is better than having thirty otherwise decent guys mad at league officials for letting some random buttfuck shit up their league races.
But you know, it’s the NR2003 community in 2016, so I guess this is to be expected. My biggest question is why this RZ dude didn’t just go to iRacing – a one year membership costs about the same amount as the neetbux he spent on paying to be a backmarker in NR2003 league races, and the system requirements are pretty much identical if you aren’t concerned about visual fidelity.