Despair at Daytona: iRacing Threw Away the Opening Round of the Championship

disasterFor six minutes, it appeared all was well. The 2017 iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series season, an officially sanctioned virtual NASCAR championship that hands a $10,000 USD prize and a trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of the year to the the overall victor, was set to kick off earlier this evening with a new roster of drivers, a relatively new points system which had drawn inspiration from past NASCAR playoff formats, and a whole host of competitors serving as genuine threats to Ray Alfalla’s dominance – the three time series champion who has spent the better part of a decade establishing himself as the guy to beat within the iRacing service.

Though Daytona can often be a shitfest in an online racing realm, full of cars getting launched into the catch fence at supersonic speeds while teenagers giggle with excitement over voice chat, there was an atmosphere unlike any other leading up to the event; our informants mentioned important personnel from NASCAR would be tuning in to see what this newfangled eSports craze was about, while a Peak Anti-Freeze representative was interviewed during the brief pre-race introduction as a way to add some sort of legitimacy to the event – iRacing’s attempt to display that this was much more than a group of nerds spread across multiple Teamspeak lobbies competing for bragging rights in a series viewed by just 600 bored sim racers aimlessly wandering through YouTube.

Yet instead of capping off the months spent planning the 2017 season with a solid event to finally convey what makes iRacing so special to the corporate suits who were begged for just one more season of sponsor money, they were instead greeted with a competition where absolutely everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The 2017 NASCAR iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series event at Daytona was not the first of many successful races for what promotional material aggressively proclaims to be a growing eSport, but instead a showcase in iRacing’s ineptitude that many diehard fanboys are desperate to hide from the general public, or belittle those who openly discuss it; power-tripping, biased stewards, widespread technological issues, and a disorganized core event structure embarrassed the iRacing service in a fashion that hasn’t been seen before, and for those who shell out an arm and a leg just to play the damn game in some sort of casual fashion, hopefully won’t be seen again.

For a company who has spent the past eight years specializing in worldwide online racing simulator competitions, justifying an outlandish cost with a service fanboys claim is second to none and dubbing themselves to be the original eSport, what happened tonight at Daytona is the ultimate example of why a selection of sim racers openly mock the team behind iRacing. On select occasions, they simply can’t hide that a majority of the staff and stewards were simply friends hiring other friends, not adequately prepared to handle such a complex piece of software, nor a community expecting software to merely work as it should.

screwed-upTalk of widespread organizational issues first began on Peak Anti-Freeze Series competitor Logan Clampitt’s personal Facebook page, where he mentioned the game put him in the wrong car number for the first major event of the season. While iRacing typically assigns your car number based on your iRating, with car #1 going to the highest rated driver in the session, the Peak Series is a custom event, where drivers are allowed to choose their own car number. Many Peak drivers began publicly questioning how iRacing – a team with enough money to acquire licenses for Ferrari, Porsche, and the Nurburgring Nordschleife – managed to screw up something so insignificant despite hosting this championship since 2010.

Before the YouTube stream was switched on, I already began receiving multiple messages from PRC-affiliated Peak Series drivers, describing “the ultimate shitshow”, in which a certain driver who had legitimately raced his way into the Peak Championship by placing well in the iRacing Winter Pro Series, was unable to enter the race server despite meeting all of the proper requirements to participate. So not only were the car numbers messed up, thus creating a situation where the custom graphics created just for the event didn’t match the car numbers on track, a guy who 100% was scheduled to run the race at Daytona, was not allowed to join the room by the iRacing software itself. No connection issues, no eternal loading screens; he simply couldn’t register for the session.

called-off-startWhen the introduction to the broadcast had concluded, and the pace car  pulled into pit lane to signify the start of the race, the field didn’t accelerate towards the green flag. Users in the accompanying live chat box began stating the start of the event had been called off, and the pace car promptly pulled out of pit lane to confirm that these people knew something the average viewer tuning in out of boredom didn’t.

called-off-2Rather than the event commentators making note of the confusion unfolding on the monitor and doing their best to explain why the race hadn’t started as scheduled, it was instead iRacer Colton Bermudez notifying spectators that iRacing stewards had been forced to throw a manual caution flag due to “screwing up a bunch of stuff”, confirming that a driver guaranteed a spot on the grid had been accidentally denied access to the race.

call-off-3With important NASCAR and Peak Anti-Freeze Series representatives in attendance, the field continued to click off caution laps, with the broadcasting crew eventually admitting that iRacing officials had been working through some technical difficulties. The first laps of the 2017 Peak Anti-Freeze Series season were completed under yellow flag conditions, and not even the commentators could give a straight answer to the viewers – Facebook playing an integral role in keeping people informed on the shenanigans.

call-off-4The green flag was finally waved on the fifth lap of the scheduled one hundred lap affair, though none of the viewers actually saw it in real-time thanks to quick thinking by the virtual camera crew to obstruct yet another round of shenanigans. While it’s not discussed very often on the iRacing forums, users occasionally have encountered a race-ending pace car glitch, where even if the pace car is driving down pit lane and the automated official is about to throw the green flag to commence the event, the game incorrectly registers the caution period as “still in progress”, and therefore accelerating towards the start/finish line generates an automatic penalty once you pass the pace car’s current location, wherever it may be in relation to your car.

This lead to a situation where after waiting five laps to iron out the first round of technical issues, half of the field was disqualified due to a known bug that dates back to the inception of the service in 2008 and still hasn’t been fixed, creating an additional flurry of problems for the stewards to sort out in front of a live audience with key personnel looking on. A manual yellow flag was then thrown a second time, resulting in the first twenty minutes of the event spent awkwardly turning laps behind a pace car, though viewers knew something had gone haywire before the words caution had been displayed on the telecast – for a track known for massive packs of cars, it was certainly odd that the entire field was strung out to the extreme, twenty seconds after taking the green. pcar-glitchDuring the second extended caution period, iRacing made the abrupt decision to suddenly turn Daytona into a non-points exhibition event, which was then passed onto the broadcast crew, and eventually the viewers themselves. According to several people involved in the competition as spotters, crew chiefs, and even drivers, the event was not outright cancelled or postponed for a thirty minute break to sort out the clusterfuck, because according to iRacing stewards keeping drivers updated on the situation with the in-game chat functionality, too many representatives from NASCAR and Peak would be unwilling to sit through stoppages, and the event itself – regardless of whether it would be contested for points or pride – absolutely needed to happen at that very moment.

Speaking to those inside the session watching the chaos unfold from their virtual spotters box or crew chief bench, veteran sim racers competing in the event unanimously voiced their disapproval over how iRacing officials and staff members had been handling the situation. Shannon Whitmore, the main steward of the Peak Anti-Freeze series, was reported to have been typing in the chat with extremely poor spelling and the overall competence of an angry old man upset his private NASCAR Racing 2003 Season online league was going to hell in a hand basket – a far cry from the professional atmosphere the promotional material advertises.

Several sources note that two competitors, iRacing Pro Series champion Ryan Luza, as well as his rival Logan Clampitt, were both given “final warnings” by iRacing for merely agreeing with front-runner Bryan Blackford’s suggestion to reschedule the Daytona race at a later date. So while the event is a complete mess thanks to the incompetence of iRacing’s staff members, rather than work to address the situation at hand, staff members instantly start looking for reasons to remove certain competitors they have a tangible bias against – or as in the terms Mr. Whitmore has stated himself, confirmed by multiple in-session witnesses: “The Peak Series isn’t for everyone.” Several other drivers also had their in-game chat functionality temporarily disabled by iRacing staff members for vocalizing their frustrations.

Even more embarrassing than the twenty minutes of caution laps and subsequent 180-degree switch to a spontaneous exhibition event in a desperate attempt to retain the attention of corporate big-wigs, would be the iRacing staff’s insistence that an online series spectated by a whopping 600 people and consisting primarily of teenagers not possessing a valid drivers license must be ruled with an iron fist, where any hint of dissident from the competitors is explicitly prohibited. The 40-car field was obviously frustrated with the amateurish organizational skills displayed by iRacing and had every reason to put their collective feet down in this situation, especially after years of marquee World Tour events plagued with connection issues, and major championships with legitimate cash prizes on the line determined by exploits discovered within the software – such as the surface model bug.

231And the hits just keep on coming. PRC has learned of at least one iRacing member who had qualified for the Peak Anti-Freeze Series season by placing well in the off-season Winter Pro Series, had done so by dwindling his skill points by signing up for a multitude of events and intentionally not participating in them, allowing him to contest the winter series in a lower split of opponents for easy victories, and what’s essentially a free entry into a $10,000 championship.

35e7c1696aab1afe19e6376124013266When iRacing were directly confronted about the issue with the above data display after a similar incident produced a drastically different ruling from officials, as well as links to individual race results where the user had registered for a vast array of events in a short period of time during the week before an important off-season championship, only to never set foot on the grid, iRacing staff members claimed this was a non-issue.

And of course, a lot of people are probably wondering what sporting code rules this violates – don’t worry, it’s these two: Actions detrimental to iRacing, and the purpose of the iRating system. Sandbagging for a shot at $10,000 is disrespectful to other users, and goes against why the iRating points system was established on the service in the first place.

ruebook

Of course, none of this was ever enforced on this particular driver, and it was instead all basically ignored, because as you can see from the Facebook screenshots uploaded below, it just so happens to be a “development driver” of Ray Alfalla’s team – last year’s champion and iRacing’s poster-child for sim racing super stardom for the past five years.

sam-putzTwo thousand words later, let’s summarize this mess.

For a company jacking up the cost of the product under the guise of a premium service, receiving official endorsement from both NASCAR and Peak Anti-Freeze, proclaiming themselves to be the “original eSport racing game”, pushing out high-fidelity trailers supposedly offer a “second to none” experience, as well as allegedly possessing infrastructure that dwarfs what other developers can churn out for their online experience, what happened this evening at Daytona was an absolute train wreck for just how long iRacing have been in this business.

From the embarrassing behavior of the officials, who bully, intimidate, and hold obvious biases against teenagers who are just stoked to be playing a NASCAR computer game against a talented group of drivers, and the abundance of technical issues that quite frankly shouldn’t be popping up at this stage in iRacing’s lifespan despite the staff’s knowledge of their existence for almost a decade, all the way to the six hundred or so viewers that clearly indicate sim racing isn’t taking off as an eSport like the advertisements are suggesting, tonight is exactly why I’ve made an effort to educate sim racers about the other side of iRacing. This is the kind of shit-show that has been brewing for quite some time; one which iRacing apologists will undoubtedly be desperate to sweep under the rug and pretend it’s all some major conspiracy by a delusional former member.

Now is the perfect time for a rival developer to come along and do things better.

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46 thoughts on “Despair at Daytona: iRacing Threw Away the Opening Round of the Championship

    1. I honestly have no idea how they keep the doors open considering there aren’t alot of people playing and they get droves of people who pay for the base package and are like lol no when they see how callous the community is too when they voice their frustration at rookie shit.

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      1. Next step is to stop writing Every Word In A Title With A Fucking Capital Letter.

        You look like a duckfaced teenaged clickbait whoring slut doing that….

        Like

          1. Skool….!!!?? jeez

            no caps is the way you should be doin it James

            tis the way forward

            //teenage.engineering/products

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          2. The way kids write these days I’d surprised if they tought capitalization, or grammar, or spelling, or anything related to English honestly.

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  1. Still better than actual NASCAR these days

    Would be nice to see a proper competitor though that I actually want to buy (and can afford), which is why we probably won’t get one.

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  2. Wow they really are rapid on thread lock/delete today. Strangely no such speed when members are being bullied, or for misogyny, racism and other shite.

    The article hits the point right on the head when it refers to friends hiring friends, rather than looking to hire the most capable individuals, with Shannon being an obvious example of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. iRacing is a broken service that costs too much for what you get and is mostly populated by mongoloid basement dwellers not fit to participate in society. There’s no reason to play this game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Fan boys won’t be able to keep the charade going much longer.”
      Dont hold your breath:-)
      Honestly I dont think you are right – because until another sim offers the same 7/24 service then the mix of fanatic fanboys + all the users who just want to get a revenue of their massive invested money.
      You would be surprised how many times members of the last group admit that they cannot go elsewhere – because of their “investment”.

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  4. As ever, I want to be excited for sim racing events, but with clustercusses like these always happening on the big-name events, it’s perpetually disappointing. (Occasionally, one can luck out with a small event, at least, but… it’s embarrassing to me as a NASCAR fan that iRacing is the “official” home of it.)

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  5. That race was a yuuuugee fail on iracing’s part. It’s not good when someone is threatened with a ban for making a suggestion.

    Also, Putz hacking his way into the Peak Series has nothing to do with the crux of this article. Also, didn’t say once that there’s a reason no developer would try and replicate what iracing has done because its so expensive at the risk of very little profit?

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    1. Pretty sure it’s just him driving home the “this series is a joke” point. I’ve been a part of multiple pro / peak events through the years, I can’t even begin to tell you how poorly run their events are… their “officiating” is borderline bullying / power tripping… it’s actually sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Take last night for example… I watched as Shannon gave out chat mute after chat mute to anybody who spoke up about how this whole ordeal was bogus. He said he wasn’t going to talk about it here (in the server), when drivers approached him in a team speak channel he said he wasn’t going to talk about it then, and even in the closed Peak thread he is making bare minimum attempts at communicating now. How they ever gave him the reigns on their biggest oval racing series over the course of iRacing’s lifetime is baffling to me…

        ShannonIsTheProblem.jpeg

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  6. You should write an entry on how you got a refund and under what EULA conditions other users can do the same. It may be a bit too much for someone who didn’t take law classes but if you find someone who knows something, also highlight how users could legally obtain refunds on conditions not cited by EULA – as not all that gets put in EULAs is actually legal or would hold up in court.

    The game has tracks I want and a car I really want but their pricing and rental purposes always kept me away.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Once again a online competition loses credibility , the door is completely open at the moment for a developer to hit a home run with the right implementations .

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  8. Wasnt it you who just said this yesterday?

    For me its about “how many times can you rip on the company for the same thing.” Weve had our fun shitting on pCars and AC when they were in the spotlight, now we gotta turn the page and go forward. Hence the abrupt halt of AC articles as well.

    I guess iRacing is exempt from being ripped on for the same thing over and over and over again.

    Top notch personal values you got there mate.

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    1. It’s an old argument but it’s a fresh occurrence.

      By the way, that number situation happened on the Daytona 24hr. The folks with whom I run Redline GTP took part and one of their cars had the entry changed.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. ha good catch dude. and james wants people to think that he doesnt have an obvious negative bias against iracing.

      If he truely believes that you can only rip on someone for the same thing so many times, and wants to show any morsel of integrity, he would find some other topic to rip on with iracing. Theres so much other stuff thats worth talking about, but all he can focus on is the damn peak series.

      that will never happen though and he will respond here with some sarcastic 1 liner trying to make himself look like the big man.

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      1. Did iRacing shit the bed, or did they not? If they did, then is it not newsworthy, especially since they call themselves the best sim available?

        If it is not newsworthy when “The Best” shits the bed then what would you call it? Before you decide it is not newsworthy remember that iRacing had two big sponsors there to watch “The Best” in action.

        This is not a stand-alone instance, this occurs all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. fuck you iracing. i was the one ddosing your shitty piece of shit servers. i hope you see this, shannon whitmore. to make me stop ddosing your shitty leagues game, let me fuck your pussy

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  10. I’m iracer only but you can’t fathom how hard i would run to the alternative if there would be one. Monopolies are diarrhea for consumer-happiness

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  11. When the success of a simulator is completely the result of the bagsize of donor money a failed developer got for creating a -in theory- unique formula.

    Like

  12. There’s a lot of iRacers who don’t care about Oval racing at all, let alone watching other people do it in a game.

    I’m only 8 months into iRacing, but I’ll be happy enough for another 18 months I’m sure. I’ve got enough out of my money already, and love the service. I’ve had few problems with it.

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  13. They started under yellow because 1 guy couldn’t get in? That’s absolutely ridiculous. From that 1 poor decision the event snow balled into a total disaster.

    Should have told the guy sorry, given him a years membership free, and made sure it was fixed for the next race, not messed with the whole start of the event for 1 person.
    Would a sanctioned NASCAR event delay, or start under yellow if 1 guy couldn’t get their car started?
    No.
    The show must go on.

    The bugs are inexcusable. You can’t run events for cash prizes, or even just highly publicized events when there’s a chance the whole house of cards will collapse.
    It’s just poor business.

    The guy who “cheated” by lowering his rating?
    Eh. Cheating is racing. Spirit of the rule and everything, but it’s not strictly in the rule book, it’s not technically cheating.
    NASCAR has a long history of stretching regulations, so…

    The rest is just beyond belief.
    Iracing is not well run at all.

    Like

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