As We Predicted, iRacing’s Dirt Content Experiences Sharp Decline in Popularity

What was once sim racing’s biggest long-standing April Fool’s joke has now officially made the transition from reality into relative obscurity. North American and Australian dirt oval racing fans rejoiced back in 2016 when they learned it would be none other than iRacing tasked with taking a shot at replicating Dirt Late Models and Sprint Cars – taking a very popular discipline of local auto racing into the hyper-competitive environment of the online motorsports platform – but now that this content has been out for a little over a month, the honeymoon phase has concluded, and some are going as far as calling it a waste of resources. Though we praised iRacing’s muddy adventure when it first launched, with the cars being objectively the most realistic and believable vehicles available for purchase on the service after years of confusing tire model updates, we questioned the staying power it would have among the userbase considering dirt oval racing is seen as relatively low on the global auto racing totem pole.

A recent thread on iRacing’s official SubReddit has proven our primary concerns were right on the money, if not profoundly accurate. Reports of over 7,000 active users signed into the iRacing servers for the launch of dirt oval racing have now been replaced by woefully pathetic car counts that struggle to eclipse 20 total participants for the most well-attended events. This is a pretty big deal, as iRacing’s format relies on an abundance of entrants for each race so the service can split people into multiple groups based on their skill level. With so few drivers to split, and a maximum car count of just twelve vehicles for each race, it’s leading to situations where races are total shitfests because the talent pool is so diverse; barely competent drivers are forced to drive against highly skilled veterans.

And it’s not a fun experience for those involved.

Though the two users above each offer their own explanation as to why there’s been such a sharp decline in popularity for the dirt content, I don’t feel either are accurate, so I’ll put my own spin on things.

Dirt oval racing is actually extremely difficult; the cars by nature are configured to be fundamentally broken from a setup standpoint, and the driving style required is essentially flat-out drifting. The sim community by and large simply do not understand car setups enough to get the most out of their virtual sprint car or late model – quite hilarious given these games are intended for a hardcore audience who should in theory be all over that shit – and most sim races do not possess the car control necessary to run thirty five straight clean laps while dead sideways among an equally crazy pack of cars. I’m under the impression many iRacers bought the dirt content out of curiosity, realized they had nowhere near the talent level to drive the damn things, and gave up on it after only a few days.

You would think that the dirt content would bring a whole host of new users to the iRacing service, especially with talk of how accurate these cars are compared to the rest of the vehicles on iRacing, but there’s a fundamental flaw with this hypothesis.

As it stands, dirt oval racing is a very niche motorsport in both North America as well as Australia; World of Outlaws events haven’t been nationally televised since Spike TV was known as TNN back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, and currently the only way to watch these races live is through a relatively obscure website that locks footage behind several pay walls. I’m not saying DirtVision is shit, I’m just saying that the average auto racing fan has no idea it exists in the first place. So the potential audience is significantly smaller than it was ten or fifteen years ago.

By comparison, the Ratbag World of Outlaws game for the PlayStation 2 sold half a million copies because everyone with a basic cable television package could watch sprint car racing on a Friday night with a familiar set of announcers such as Steve Evans and Ralph Sheheen introducing outsiders to the sport, while little kids or teenagers could point at a PS2 game in Wal-Mart and instantly have an entirely new type of car racing to dive head first into because it wasn’t much of an investment. This doesn’t happen anymore; iRacing requires an elaborate steering wheel setup, beefy computer, and a serious mentality just to get some base level of enjoyment from the title. Neither your average short track audience member, nor their offspring want to get screamed at by some elitist iRacing cuntwagon for ruining his safety rating.

Those who do brave those elements discover they can’t make a lap to save their lives because the cars are so difficult to drive, and the cycle repeats.

So you have a situation where after the honeymoon phase has ended, there’s twenty people signing up for dirt events. And on the outset it looks like a waste of resources, but I’m actually here to defend iRacing and tell you why it was worth the year of development time.

In learning how dirt oval racing works, how track surfaces evolve, and how dirt tire compounds behave, what iRacing learned on dirt will slowly apply to the tarmac vehicles. I gave the brand new Porsche a shakedown at Dustin’s house when we were shooting photos with the race car, and while I’m not going to say it’s this night & day difference that’ll make me come crying back to iRacing, it’s certainly something that indicated a few eureka moments were had behind the scenes. If iRacing continue in this direction, along with allowing Steve Reis to really dig through the software and undo some of the past mistakes from previous staff members, the dirt content will be seen in hindsight as a necessary evil to get the simulation back on track.


49 thoughts on “As We Predicted, iRacing’s Dirt Content Experiences Sharp Decline in Popularity

  1. The cars were fun before they did what they usually do and and ruin them with on the first update.
    Now you have non winged cars that are impossible to spin,because they fudge the physics and now you have zero wheel spin,wven when at full rpms going sideways,there’s telemetry to prove this to,unless they locked that thread.
    I praised them on release,but now they have made it to easy,it’s not a challenge to complete a lap,”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is the tire model, not the physics with dirt. They added grip and falsified notes to claim something realistic was added after the first patch. Not to mention, who ever came up with the awesome idea that a USAC car should drive like a super late model.

      The tire model is now several years in development. Yet still, there is no tire spin and no tire wear. The sidewalls are still bricks, which on dirt it shouldn’t be that way at all. The lack of tire spin and tire wear is completely intentional, anyone that believes Dave hasn’t figured this out after nearly a decade needs their head examined.

      The first release of the USAC was perfect, the data was right. Steve released what he thought was accurate and was then made to back track and tell a BS story that the release was wrong and they just added a bunch of grip to every car to hide the slip force issues of the current tire.

      Thing is, the critics that could make a difference and put pressure on iR to admit to the need to use an improved version of the old tire model are all splintered throughout the community. Everyone wants to be the ” go to” people that make that pressure happen.

      At this point, Dave is just waiting on iR to fall out so he can take a completed model and claim he found the key, sell it to a race team or, teams for use on team simulators. That’s where the money is for him from this point forward.

      Over the years people still don’t get how fast he will sell everyone out to make a buck. Henry un knowingly funded Daves retirement plan, along with the community of drones that have been utterly brainwashed into thinking adding grip=realism, cause the engineer said so.

      News flash, the engineer says what he is paid to say. Engineers are career bullsh***ers, especially ones that originate from the NASCAR world.

      Steve, the engineer, good intentions but doesn’t know the way thing’s work yet. Guessing he got told ”give this bs for the greater good in the long run” story. iRacing released the initial build that was actually close to realistic because they wanted the Rfactor/sim racer guys on a hook so they didn’t get bad initial feedback, then fallowed the same plan they used in 09 on the asphalt side, started dumbing it down to get the slow train of money coming in from the video gamers that wanted to feel like they could actually drive a WOO sprint, USAC or SLM.

      ”rear tread changed” on the SLM=Keyword for ”we added a bunch of grip ”

      Don’t believe me? Say the word ”failed tire model” in the forum, even in the complaints department, watch how fast you lose your account and get banned, your thread will get deleted too. The numb nut crew paid to work there don’t understand the pure gravity of the bombshell that will fall when iRacing fails to deliver and people start to wake up from the fanboi cloud.

      It will stick this way until someone smacks these brainwashed cult followers out of the trance. Of course you do this, they will just shut down or sell out. You can bet money within 5 years someone will either buy iRacing or it will shut down. The data won’t go anywhere because of the NDA they signed to get it. Either way, Dave will leave, reasons listed above ^ as the only one holding proprietary data worth any money.

      By the time customers figure out what happened, he will never be able to show himself in a racing sim community ever again.

      That’s the 100% truth.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Meanwhile on road, at least the GT3 cars, the sidewalls feel like mush and the tyres are super vague. Partly due to minimum tyre pressures being the fastest. Dynamics of it are also cancer.


      2. I stopped racing it because I did like 30 races the week it came out and burnt myself out (and re-injured my shoulder)

        Also the lack of tracks bothers me. That’s about it. Honestly I enjoy it still. Super fun. Hope the fix the slip issue.

        It’s whatever. ❤ suck a dick!


  2. Still nothing on the pis poor state off the online lobbies on Assetto on console. Surely you can’t have both pcars and kunos on the same race car.


  3. I gotta be honest that the cars all fell fun and are really interesting to drive except for two weird things- occasionally the cars feel like they can’t spin the tires in certain situations and the track goes feom mega grip to fuck you rubbered in loose. The pro late model bogs down and I can’t see that car wouldn’t spin the tires.

    I don’t see why each car needs 2 classes. There needs to be a rotation.


  4. I agree.. I think the Good ol’ Boys race Nascar.. and the rest of the world like the tin tops.. If you’re going to do a series that will be popular.. do some 80’s or 90’s touring cars.. DTM..


  5. It’s too early to call it a day on participation because iracing did not create a dedicated dirt license. This is a problem because since irating is global, many (myself included) don’t want to lose irating while playing around in dirt.


    1. Real talk, NASCAR or any major sanctioning body would die overnight if they enforced a drug/drinking policy. Not talking ’bout having it in the rulebook sitting doormant, I’m saying you show up to the comp gate at 1pm and they surprise all drivers with a mandatory piss test.

      Most would refuse the test, walk off the property, and never come back. You are then left with 2 or 4 car fields in all classes. The remaining competitors would refuse to run as it’s a waste of tires & fuel.


      1. Funny, I know a motorcycle rider in the big leagues who has said that they can be drug tested at anytime in any place. He’s even been woken up from sleeping in his bed by some reps from WADA and ordered to take a piss test.


      2. And we should care because..?

        People who do not want to abide by the rules should be parked indefinitely until they learn their lesson.

        And if there are no rules about actually being sober and/or not on drugs (as idiotic as it sounds) before driving a race car of any kind, you just confirmed what the rest of the world already thinks of you. That Nascar (and its local-level sanctioning bodies) is a joke and rednecks should be purged from the face of the Earth.

        You want to waste yourself to death? Good. But go away and do it in the confined space of your own home so that in the not-so-tragic event that you kill yourself, at least others are safe.

        What kind of nonsense is that? What am I even reading? How can your sanctioning bodies be this retarded and turn a blind eye to drivers being stoned and drunk?

        My God, I hope you’re trolling everybody here. Because if you’re saying the truth and this really happens in North America, your sanctioning bodies are run by criminals who spit in the face of safety because they’d lose customers.

        Fuck me, I sincerely hope one of these morons takes his car and drive straight into a grandstand on his way to the track, killing innocent spectators (including childrens) who just wanted to enjoy an evening of racing. If your compratiots (and/or neighbours from the land of the free) do not want to learn the lesson, they must learn it the hard way.

        And then you wonder why nobody takes you guys seriously. If you refuse to be sober and not on drugs during a race, you don’t deserve to call yourself a “racing driver”. You just deserve to kill yourself.


          1. I’m not against drugs you cuck.

            But why should you be a douchebag and kill others when you can just kill yourself somewhere else and save us the oxygen?


            1. Weed is scientifically proven to make you a better driver, if you dont believe me smoke a bowl and go do some iracing


                    1. Urban Dictionary : Due to “recreational activity” prisoners often leave with a larger prison wallets than when they arrive.


  6. It’s natural their numbers are decreasing, more people are probably gravitating towards Ian Bell’s Project Cars 2 with it’s superior dirt physics


  7. I for one signed up for iracing strictly for the dirt concent. I live the sprint cars and am getting the hang of late models. Dirt driving is a skill of its own. My iracing rating isn’t good but I’m a good clean dirt driver. I’m finding that’s all that really matters. True I don’t like getting yelled at from at one d*ck that’s worry about his rating. It dirt! It’s unpredictable, wild, ever-changing, but best of all white knucked intense racing. Don’t like it? Don’t play it. I love it and hope it keeps getting better.


  8. Meanwhile in Real News, Kunos release long awaited patch for PS4 which totally fucks up the servers and what’s left of the online experience for XB1 players. Rank amateurs. Why are people still clinging on to the notion that that shit will ever work properly?


    1. Nice try Associat0r, I have been playing online for hours on PS4 now that we can actually have private races, have been working pretty smoothly now during the last few days after some initial issues.


        1. Delayed for at least three weeks on XB1. Clueless company. Totally clueless. They make Codemasters look half competent.


    1. Played a quick 20 lap race with 22 AI drivers using the VRC MP4/22 (and a skinpack with all the correct 2007 cars) at Barcelona (a track that used to give the AI about as much trouble as it does real drivers re: passing cleanly). AI 96%, Aggro 60%, Variation max (whatever it is).

      It was pretty awesome. This combo is now my go-to F1 quick fix. Still not sure if the AI can handle pit stops. It can certainly handle multi-class now and seems to plan ahead.

      Bottom Line: Big Improvement. I should make a video or something.


  9. Ok totally off topic but hey, so I’m gonna build a box for pretend racing, I’ve not followed the tech in a decade or so and most of the nerded out gaming sites are just to weird for me to catch on I guess. I’m leaning toward a new high end AMD processor and good board, big ssd for my program drive and a big secondary storage drive, good power supply, ok that’s all pretty basic stuff but I just can’t get a fix on the must have for video. I have no intention of triples and will be content with my hd tv for output, so do I really need to get an nvidia 1080 founders edition?

    Oh and if there are some must haves please jump in cus I’m buying it all end of week with the Memorial Day sale stuff.

    Thanks in advance guys.


  10. Hey stupid james, what did you say that gt sport easily gets 60 fps on the normal ps4 while AC can’t and is the fault of AC devs and bla bla bla? This just shows how you never fact check anything and only talk out of hate without reason thinking. When I commented that is hard for many games including AC and Pcars to reach 60 fps on ps4 you said that I’m a fanboy and GT Sport gets locked 60fps on the normal ps4. That’s the reason Sony brought a Ps4 pro with a boost mode, to facilitate the job of hundreds of studios developing games on a more reasonable hardware and for console players to actually get a console capable of 60 fps and not constantly between 30-40-60 like the standard ps4. When I point out that ps4 is insufficient for many games I’m called a fanboy/shill and AC devs don’t know what they are doing. Oops. You never fact checked that many games on ps4 can’t reach 60fps or stay fixed on it, including gt sport.

    “In like-for-like tests, we found that the PS4 Pro version held a virtually solid 60fps lock, whereas base hardware can drop to the mid-40s in the most densely packed race scenes. This is a welcome enhancement – dropped frames means a disconnect in terms of controller response, plus intrusive visual judder. Based on what we’ve played in the GT Sport beta (which, we should stress, is only a sampler of the full content line-up), playing on Pro keeps you at 60fps with only the most minor, essentially unnoticeable drops.”

    “Currently, no existing version of the GT Sport public beta can hit a locked 60fps. However, the PS4 Pro running in 1080p mode gets the closest yet. It’s little wonder that Polyphony decided to remove resource-hungry features like dynamic time and weather.”


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