It’s impossible to publish one lone definitive review of the iRacing software, partially because the four major updates the game receives each year can turn it from a barely passable racing simulator riding on the coattails of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season into something extremely authentic – and then back again – all within a span of six months. As a result, it’s necessary for us to continue updating our readers on the status of both the tire model and the surface model found within the simulator, given that the version of iRacing you drove in August and probably really enjoyed no longer exists; replaced with an entirely different set of handling physics you’ll be forced to adapt to all over again.
Today’s Reader Submission here on PRC.net comes from an extremely prominent driver on the iRacing service who wishes to use this outlet to voice his concerns with the current build of the game, as he feels iRacing has once again gone backwards and virtually undone all of the major improvements made when the new surface model was first released during the fall of last year.
Hey guys. Obviously you can see who I am from my email address, but I’d really appreciate if when you publish this, you can keep my name out of it. I’ve seen the iTards in the comments go nuts and say you’re lying and making things up when you talk about how Shannon and Nim can have it out for certain people, but we all know for a fact what you post is the truth, and iRacing usually goes to the extremes over something that makes them look bad on PRC. You have to eschew my identity somehow, otherwise they can fuck me, and I’d prefer not to lose everything I’ve worked for over merely talking about problems with iRacing’s physics.
So let me lay it out to you. Here’s what’s wrong with iRacing’s tire model at the moment, and this primarily affects the oval cars because those are my specialty. In the last build, tires were actually putting some heat into the track, so over the course of a session the track was getting hotter. The cycle continues with ahigher track temperature providing an increase in tire heat, which made our cars slide around more. That allowed us to move to the high side of the race track in a quest for grip. But in the current build, they made the tires not heat up as much, so the track doesn’t heat up as quickly either, and once again we’re stuck to the bottom of the race track – as we had been before the introduction of the new surface model.
iRacing introduced all of these improvements to the simulation engine a year ago, only for the values to be tweaked and the new surface model to be rendered completely useless because the current set of values produce the kind of racing we saw without the new surface model. Oops. Imagine how we feel about the time we’ve spent on our car setups and all the tricks we’ve learned about multi-groove racing, suddenly taken away from us thanks to an update.
What we need from iRacing is for the tires to have more grip initially, more overall speed from the tire, and a greater falloff, which would allow us to move around in the manner we’d been able to during the introduction phase of the new surface model. Because currently we’re just fucking stuck to the bottom of the track in those embarrassing conga lines where nobody passes anyone else unless you physically hit them. We’re essentially running a tire compound that is much harder than anything a real life stock car would run. We need iRacing to soften the compound. It’s that simple.
Further elaborating, all of iRacing’s grip comes from the aerodynamic element, which is why when you barely nudge the wall, you inexplicably lose 2mph down the longest straight. Now this was confirmed by many of my fellow drivers because when we were first given the new low downforce configuration on the Sprint Cup cars, the effects of any minuscule cosmetic damage were less severe than they had been in the past, because there was less of an aerodynamic value for the damage model to manipulate to begin with, if that makes sense.
To summarize, we had multi-groove oval racing on iRacing for about six months. Then they took it away, even though they said they learned new information about track surfaces through their dirt project that had supposedly been implemented in the current build. Yet in reality they’ve now gone backwards and nonsensically undone all of their genuine progress.
This is basically what happens if you invest any serious time into iRacing. As you continue to stick around for update after update, you’ll notice cars drastically change from one season to another with no rhyme or reason behind the changes. I was lucky enough to witness the end of the Old Tire Model saga with the K&N Series car, and it was pretty hilarious that for a simulator who charged an arm and a leg, and who claimed to be above and beyond the offerings of rival sim racing developers, it was bizarre to see how the car changed from one week to another. There was a season, I want to say the second season of 2012, where the K&N car was still on the old tire model, and it was literally like driving on ice. Coming to the green flag, 35% of the field would spin while accelerating towards the start/finish line. It was fucking insane. The next week, suddenly the New Tire Model was introduced on the K&N car, and people could actually survive the first lap, but if you didn’t hug the bottom, you were almost a full second off pace on a track that didn’t require any lifting.
And then there’s this guy, who tried to spend time learning IndyCar setups, only to get royally fucked by the updates and lose any progress he had made.
What I find truly unbelievable is that iRacing somehow managed to negate the effects of the new surface model – objectively the best new addition to the sim in years – by manually adjusting numbers until the on-track product resembled that of the pre-NSM days. How do you even fuck this up? I hope to God this was a genuine accident, because the years spent working on a dynamic surface have literally been all for nothing if this was even the least bit intentional. Or it just shows that iRacing have no idea what they’re doing, charging enormous prices and pushing bullshit testimonials alongside a hyperbolic ad campaign to reel in fanatical sim racers who themselves are practically clueless. Maybe they’ll announce another car to distract the masses or something.