Part of what makes iRacing so special to the sim racing community is the testimonials page proudly displayed on the game’s official website. Boasting a lengthy list of world-renowned race car drivers from multiple disciplines of professional auto racing, names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Garth Tander, and Simon Pagenaud all claim to be iRacing connoisseurs during their few select weekends away from the race track, using the software as a way to keep their skills behind the wheel in sharp form. The alleged unparalleled authenticity on display in the software for your average sim racer to immerse themselves in is implied to be the result of many of these drivers (and their teams) assisting the development team with the ongoing development of the sim – and who better to troubleshoot handling inconsistencies than someone who pilots the car in real life, right?
Unfortunately, the most basic of digging reveals these testimonials are purely a marketing gimmick.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the iRacing side of things as of late, a major new addition to the simulator is set to be released later this year. While not everyone’s cup of tea, dirt oval racing will be making its way to the iRacing software in the form of Sprint Cars and Late Models; the first time this discipline will be available in any sort of video game since the budget-priced officially licensed World of Outlaws title in 2010. Obviously, there’s been a lot of fanfare from the oval racing crowd in regards to this project; many North American iRacers are amateur dirt track drivers themselves, and the ones who aren’t most likely have one or two tracks they frequent as a spectator within driving distance. It’s a big deal to have a studio as experienced as iRacing trying to replicate this form of motorsports, especially since the dirt oval sim racing community has largely relied on guesswork rFactor mods for the better part of a decade.
However, some iRacers have already questioned just how accurate the depiction of dirt oval competition will be, and these comments have ignited a firestorm of sorts that perfectly displays the contrast between real race car drivers attempting to understand the popularity of iRacing, and the computer nerds desperate to use the software as a way to live out their failed racing dreams.
Sportsman dirt driver William Dahl gets the ball rolling by merely suggesting iRacing should find real world dirt track drivers to help fine-tune the new discipline before it’s released to iRacers around the world. Dahl also notes that he had tried his friend’s real life Super Late Model setup – which won at South Boston Speedway a few weeks prior – and the real world numbers used in his buddy’s car did not translate to the iRacing garage area at all . This was the whole point of iRacing, and is part of the reason Dahl is eager to at least give some input on the dirt track experience before paying customers are used as guinea pigs.
iRacing fanboys show up to call Dahl an “armchair expert”, one claims “just because you are a good real driver doesn’t mean you are a good sim driver” – as if sim racing is somehow more hardcore than strapping your ass into the real thing – and lastly, a final user states “how can someone who drives real cars explain the physics present in a simulation?” Dahl, completely blown away by the absurd replies he is receiving, promptly uploads a picture of his car, and leaves the discussion. Actually, he might still be shit talking with them. Who knows.
My mind is absolutely blown by what I’ve read. iRacing literally parades around a massive page of testimonials featuring drivers from all four corners of the earth talking about how great their simulator is – sometimes allegedly enlisting their help to build a car (Shane Van Gisbergen was brought on-board to tweak the Ford Falcon V8 Supercar) and yet iRacing fanboys are genuinely ganging up on a real driver willing to provide feedback for the simulation by saying he’s not qualified to talk about race car computer games. You’ve heard it here first, folks! Simon Pagenaud may have won the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship for Penske Racing, but according to your resident iRacing cucks shown above, he has no right to talk about how the Dallara DW12 drives in a video game. This isn’t just one guy who’s had a bit too much to drink, either – multiple people are echoing the same sentiment. There is literally a real life dirt driver in the comments section of an iRacing post on Facebook saying “hey, I’ll help test this dirt stuff for you because I race dirt ovals in real life”, and is being shot down by a host of iRacing losers for supposedly not knowing what he’s talking about.
So I guess iRacing can just delete the whole testimonials page – apparently the main premise of their simulator – real drivers both contributed to the development of the game and use it as a training tool – doesn’t matter anymore. And I’d stop there and end the article on that note, but I can actually go further.
Elliott Skeer, let’s talk about him for a bit. According to his official website, Skeer is currently a driver in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series, won the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup USA championship, and was a successful Mazda MX-5 cup driver from 2011 to 2014 – setting a track record at Laguna Seca in the process. In the shot above, that’s him leading the field at Sebring. iRacing loves to talk about this guy, and for good reason – he’s an incredibly accomplished driver who’s also young enough to seamlessly transfer his skills from the computer to the real thing and back again. Of course, there’s the complimentary massive article on him that can be found on the official iRacing website, and it’s what you could expect from a fairly standard marketing spiel – iRacing made me a better driver, I knew the tracks from iRacing… That sort of thing.
Now, when the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Cup car was released for the iRacing software during March of 2016, you’re probably right to assume Skeer or someone close to him had a hand in the development of the car, correct? I mean, it basically says they do this on the official website, and Skeer was somebody they had a great relationship with.
It’s a no-brainer to bring this kid on board so he can help iron out the kinks in the virtual car – he’s basically the best Mazda Miata driver in North America, and he’s also a dedicated sim racer. There is no reason notto let Skeer try the car beforehand and give the last bit of feedback needed to make it a truly phenomenal experience.
Apparently to the iRacing development team, it’s not a no-brainer. Skeer can be seen in the same comments section as William Dahl, frustrated with iRacing that they refused to listen to his input or even give him beta tester status. The stories of real drivers helping iRacing to build an upcoming car or two? Yeah, this sort of calls all that into question. If one of the best race car drivers in North America under the age of 25 – someone the developer team has already struck up a relationship with – isn’t giving the cars he has driven out on the real track a final virtual shakedown, who is? Could this be the reason behind why so many iRacing cars are unleashed upon the public with hilariously broken driving dynamics? Remember how the McLaren 12c GT3 couldn’t take kerbs upon release? Or how the Lotus 49 was a complete deathtrap despite then-newcomer Alex Rossi wheeling the car around Circuit of the Americas without much difficulty? Should we talk about the asphalt sprint car driving like it’s on dirt, or the K&N Stock Car having hidden traction control?
This is an especially strange situation to talk about given iRacing’s status in the sim racing community. They’ve got all sorts of drivers from all kinds of different racing disciplines ready and willing to test out the software – and some of these drivers have some serious credentials. If iRacing is supposedly being built with the help of real world race teams, and being used as a training tool by such a diverse array of accomplished race car drivers, why are they instead making the comments we’ve documented above? Why are drivers they’ve paraded around as sim racing ambassadors openly questioning on Facebook why they’re not even allowed to test upcoming iRacing projects? What’s going on here?