There used to be a pretty hilarious meme floating around within the darker corners of the iRacing community, one which claimed that most of the simulator’s road racing content is inherently broken due to the underlying engine being more or less unchanged from the team’s last release – a commercial NASCAR simulator in February of 2003 in which the cars only turned left – and building upon this base generated highly unrealistic behavior when creating cars to attack traditional racing circuits. It’s definitely one of the more elaborate conspiracies surrounding the title, as any game that asks its users to fork over an arm and a leg for only a fraction of the content will undoubtedly generate some level of hostility towards it – and this is more or less the “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” of iRacing, but in this case, curious sim racers have actually proven this to be correct with basic tests, and the problem is supposedly yet to be fixed after almost eight years in operation.
Yes, you read that right. The fifteen dollars iRacing members are forking over on a per-car basis to drive the plethora of European road racing content on the service, allegedly created with the utmost of accuracy and a pristine attention to detail far beyond what’s seen in other simulators… This money is instead going towards cars that are – to put it into simplistic terms – haphazardly placed over a generic NASCAR shell that’s hard-coded into the game’s underlying software, and the team are still yet to rectify this easily demonstrable vehicle behavior; brought up several times over the years by those unwilling to abide by the country club atmosphere and pretend the rather questionable driving physics are realistic, merely because the marketing department said so.
Several talented sim racers over the years have noticed that cars which are traditionally symmetrical in real life have an absurd tendency to oversteer in sweeping left-hand corners, while understeering in sweeping right-handers, which is a pretty fundamental characteristic of what happens when you take an asymmetrical American stock car to a road course. Some may note that the talent pool on iRacing is all over the place, and maybe these guys just haven’t gotten their shit together on the setup aspect – or outright suck at driving – but Finnish sim racer Mikko Nassi has gone through the effort of showcasing these tendencies on video at the game’s centripetal circuit, a concrete test pad where driving skill basically doesn’t apply.
And as you can see in his several unlisted videos on the subject matter, the various cars he tries out indeed spin violently during left turns, while understeering towards the concrete wall turning right.
The original iRacing forum thread on this subject started in 2011, when the service was still in its growing phase, though physics guru and longtime public figure David Kaemmer has responded multiple times (1, 2) on the matter admitting it’s a problem, ending by saying it hasn’t been fully fixed yet, but “soon” – a sim racing code word for “sometime in the next three years.” This was roughly fourteen months ago, and nothing has been mentioned about it since. Needless to say, it points to the fact that it’s a much bigger problem than iRacing originally thought it was; maybe it’s not even able to be fixed, as you’d think over eight years, they’d find a solution for it.
It’s quite sad to think that for every corner of every track that anyone has ever driven on iRacing, they’ve suffered from a car balance that is either too tight or too loose, primarily due to their car’s hidden asymmetrical characteristics that shouldn’t actually be there. However, at the same time this also explains why a higher concentration of iRacers refuse to spend time learning how car setups work compared to those who prefer to invest many hours in the products of a competitor; if you can never quite refine the car’s behavior because the setup balance will always be ruined due to the game’s underlying coding, what’s the point in open setup sessions to begin with? Why not just run the numerous fixed setup championships to at least somewhat avoid what is obviously a broken element of the game?
Apart from the fanboys, who come up with the most ridiculous theories as to why it’s not a problem or why it’s accurate for cars to handle asymmetrically – something even Kaemmer himself can be seen disputing in one reply, so at least he understands it’s a problem – everyone with half a brain, a pair of hands and a steering wheel can go out and recreate the same test results in the game’s free centripetal circuit to see something is fundamentally wrong. The only way around it for the time being is to build setups with a cross weight above 50%. As such, this problem doesn’t really affect oval cars because they hardly ever run 50% cross weight, but for the entire other half of the service, they are unknowingly fighting a losing battle in the garage area.
And for a service that promotes itself as the most accurate piece of software on the market today, alongside the extremely high financial entry fee, you’d think this wouldn’t be an issue – or at the very least it would have been ironed out in the service’s infancy.
But it’s still around. And anonymous iRacers, such as the one who sent in this information, are getting tired of it.