So iRacing’s New Surface Model Hasn’t Worked Properly for Two Years…

If you’ve been one of the poor bastards roped into blindly going along with whatever iRacing’s marketing department feeds you with each passing month, this one’s a bit of a doozy – though to their credit, at least they’ve found a fix for it now. Originally released in the fall of 2015, almost two years ago to the day, iRacing introduced what was probably their biggest addition to the simulator in the history of the product: dynamic racing surfaces.

No longer just a static loop of asphalt for sim racers to memorize the absolute fastest line, race tracks were said to be evolving entities that accumulated heat and rubber throughout each individual session based on weather conditions and traffic density, adding an extra level of depth to the driving experience by forcing participants to “read” the asphalt and search for grip as the session progressed. While not a particularly big deal for traditional road racing circuits, as there’s usually one optimal line around each track, the upgrades were seen as game-changing for the enormous array of American oval racers on the service, as alternative line choices based on changing track conditions are an integral part of most, if not all stock car race strategies.

Yet in a rare admission of guilt, iRacing have come out and admitted that this feature has not been fully functional since its inception. A pretty fundamental flaw in the way data was being from transferred from clients back to the server prevented the in-game track surface from accumulating the necessary amount of heat to actually have an effect on the racing experience itself; in some instances the darkened groove of rubber merely being little more than a nice visual cue. The problem itself was rooted in the way iRacing’s servers were coded to handle different types of qualifying sessions; certain session configurations were temporarily freezing the transfer of data from a client’s car onto the track service during qualifying, and I guess from the way I’ve interpreted the forum post, this would “stick” across into the race sessions, meaning that once cars hit the track en mass, they weren’t actually doing anything very meaningful to the track surface as advertised.

Oh, and this may or may not have gone on for two whole years, but that’s an insignificant detail.

However, as the NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series to the best of my knowledge uses a different type of session configuration compared to most public events you can enter with the average iRacing account, the glitch did not affect the premiere series on the service, nor private leagues who stumbled into the workaround by complete accident. Only after several years of customers wondering why dynamic tracks failed to produce anything near what they saw in the Peak Anti-Freeze Series , or even a portion of what was promised at the initial reveal of the technology, did iRacing actually look into the problem and discover something was indeed amiss. And I mean, the topic title of “there’s been a bug in dynamic tracks and they haven’t been working all along” from the official iRacing SubReddit moderator is pretty telling in itself.

The good news, for the iRacers among us, is that they’ve 100% identified the problem and fixed it, and it’ll be in the forthcoming update that’s set to launch very soon for Season Four of 2017.

The bad news, is that the merciless iRacing fanboys who have been defending or trying to explain the lack of multi-groove oval racing since the implementation of the new surface model as “realistic” in the face of overwhelming reports to the contrary, now look profoundly stupid for doing so. It also calls into question iRacing’s promotional material for the umpteenth time, as how many instances have we heard about the new surface model over the past few years, only to now learn in retrospect it wasn’t actually functional for a pretty substantial portion of the service – most notably the NiS events, which continue to draw enormous crowds of everyday iRacers by offering marathon-like races that closely follow the real world NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule, and were touted as the best way to experience the role a dynamic racing surface plays in oval racing due to their sheer length.

So as we’ve done in the past, thank you to those individuals who have brought these issues with the new surface model to light and encouraged iRacing to continue investigating why what we saw in the Peak series wasn’t replicated in other sessions the public could enter, as the developers have now isolated the problem and supposedly fixed it. God only knows where we’d be if y’all remained silent like the rest of the drones, and it’s only a matter of time until more interesting quirks are discovered with this same tenacity.


65 thoughts on “So iRacing’s New Surface Model Hasn’t Worked Properly for Two Years…

  1. these titles, these articles… this is what sim racing needs.



    1. They didn’t work in Shift either.

      SMS have basically made one good game, many moons ago.

      This having been said, it looks like they’ve got a much bigger budget than ever before. Perhaps that’s what hamstrung them in the past.


        1. In every game devs do that and they cut down some features before release / reveal. You just never hear about it! That’s the difference between open (crowdfunded) development and normal development. Easy as that.

          The thing you could criticize is that they don’t communicate it enough that they want to do feature X but there are no guarantees it will make it into release or ever into the game. That happens with nearly all open crowdfunded games btw.


          1. Others devs cut the features before launch, SMS just put it all in and hope for the best. All types of cars and tracks, snow, off-road, seasons, multiclass, championship, career… and now it’s up to you to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

            I hope the reviews will go in depth.


  2. How many times have iracing said they have found the problem and fixed issues,but then on released of a patch or build it actually hasn’t.
    Done with that marketing scam,and it’s manchild following


    1. They always have to fix issues, much like every other software developer out there.

      Personally I wish they communicated more effectively (and transparently), but if you honestly think they’re in the sim racing business to scam their members, you’re not much of a critical thinker.


      1. > if you honestly think they’re in the sim racing business to scam their members

        No, like most businesses, they’re doing it to make a profit. They don’t want to spend money on a ground-up rewrite of their 14 year old code, so instead they plow that cash into marketing and additional paid content.

        Ford didn’t make Pintos in the 70’s to “scam” anyone. It’s just that it worked out that way.

        I really don’t give a damn about their purported “intentions” (which are unknowable, and therefore hardly worth mentioning). The point here is that, intentional or not, the software is buggy and the physics quality highly doubtful.

        iRacings greatest asset remains its clannish, deluded community that aggressively silences any form of dissent. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that L. Ron Hubbard wasn’t involved in some way, so similar are their tactics.


  3. How pathetic is it that a good majority of iRacing’s core structure is from the year 2003? The premier online multiplayer racing sim that people foolishly spend hundreds of dollars on is outdated by 14 years.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We share around 99.7% of our genome with chimpanzees (and a 7 million year old common ancestor).

        As for how pathetic using a 14 year old core structure is, I don’t really know. Frankly, I doubt many (if any) outside the actual development team can provide the necessary context for a reasonable conclusion.

        That said, given iRacing’s unique development process, I can see how it might be a serious, and ever-growing, problem. Nor is there likely a simple solution.

        Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to have crippled their ability to innovate yet, and if the code has been substantially rewritten in the last decade, perhaps it never will, but it’s certainly a looming concern.


        1. isn’t there a quote floating about of one of the main iracing devs talking about how much legacy code is in iracing, as a basis for why modding nr2003 should be illegal?

          you know, from the time iracing sued the nr2003 fans for making nr2003 better than iracing?


  4. There are better ways to hurt iRacing…
    Nicki Thiim: “That just confirms that the fucking physics in iRacing are shit”

    It´s a comment about the fact, that lower aero doesn´t change the top-speed in a GT3-car in iRacing (which i can confirm) and some other setup-issues, that works like the opposite IRL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I’ve tried to explain to people that I have track experience and yet iRacing feels less like a real car than many of the cars in Forza Horizon 2.

      I can only assume that a lot of iRacers spent their entire budget on DD wheels, buttkissers, motion rigs and rent payments to mom, and consequently didn’t have anything left over for an actual track day experience.

      They’ve got no frame of reference. I do admit that the GT3 cars do feel similar to a base Camry, so perhaps that’s where they’ve been led astray.


      1. Trackday-Experiences are mostly useless, because most people will not anywhere go at the limit of their own or borrowed cars when financial insolvency is always possible with the slightest mistake. Only the laptimes and telemetry of paid racecar-drivers who earn the money for driving cars at the very limit should be considered to compare the performance of the real vs the sim-cars. Just yesterday racecar-driver Daniel Abt uploaded a lap of the Abt Audi RS6 on the Nordschleife and he was nowhere driving above 200 km/h with “his” 650 bhp over two-tons driving livingroom because he feared the crash.

        I own the Accuforce DD-wheel with decent HE-pedals and six strong shakers as well plus VR. I would call this minimum to get at least a two-digit percentage immersion compare to the real car. Only VR is real 3D sitting in the car experience and only SimVibe gives me a good amount of vibrations/3D-FFB i experienced as a co-driver in a real race-car. A DD-wheel is just a must for formula-and historic cars and belt-driven wheels just sucks anyway. A DD-wheel should work for like 10 years unlike all cheaper options and my one is absolutely great since two years now with the possibility of using pure physics bases FFB, which is a hell lot better in Dirt 4 i can tell.

        But iRacing is really not real with the physics. Just watch a race at Nordschleife and the cars are too slow in top-speeds, but to good in breaking. Nicki Thiim don´t shift into 6th gear in a GT3-car when driving up the hill at Klostertal, even it´s necessary in all other sims including real life. AC, Raceroom and pCars are pretty equal and awesome close to real life with the corner- and top-speeds in the GT3-class, just iRacing is very different and rather very wrong. Their old McLaren MP4-12C is the fastest car on straights in iRacing, even the real car is the slowest in the GT3 and every other car got weight penalties to not outperform the McLaren-slug, which should be fast in corners, not on straights.


        1. > A DD-wheel is just a must for formula-and historic cars and belt-driven wheels just sucks anyway.

          Right. You remind me of the dilettantes who show up at track days here at COTA with a 458 Speciale and then proceed to get smoked by some kid in a ’99 Mustang SVT running Hoosier slicks. They talk the same way: “A track-ready Ferrari is an absolute must at a place like this.”

          No, it ain’t.

          You can’t compensate for shitty skills with all those buttkissers, vibrators and DD dildos. You should unplug all that crap and just practice. Same goes for the snobs who show up in their 458’s and Gallardo’s. Not a single one of them can drive worth shit.


          1. What a bullshit comment. Certainly Ferrari drivers are slow because it’s an investment, not a race car. That’s why Sims are the only way to race for the not-millionaires. And I’m faster than 95% of sim-racers and probably beat you as well.


    2. Thiim’s also on the sim nearly every day, and races frequently, so I’m not entirely sure how to interpret his comments.

      He’s probably right, but as with many of iRacing’s apparent flaws, if the cars remain fun to drive, and the racing immersive, it’s easily ignored.

      For the three people trying to use the sim as a training tool, maybe not.


      1. > I’m not entirely sure how to interpret his comments.

        Well, I’m pretty sure. He said “iRacing’s physics are shit”.

        Doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope that this is the first step towards iRacing fixing their problems. Of course, what I’d like to see is iRacing fix the issue of disabling collision detection if the cars are on pit road. iRacing’s potential has been wasted for 9 years now.


  6. To be fair, PCars’ AI hasn’t worked properly for two years either andvyou still haven’t answered my question regarding it being the same in PC2, seeing as over-courteous AI is now the benchmark?


      1. It looks blurry.

        How much % of the car/track combos has decent AI once the first-lap chaos is over? Are you planning several features on it leading up to the release or just one big article?


  7. Why is anyone surprised that a game based on a 14 year old engine (with various features haphazardly tacked on over the years) would exhibit unpredictable behavior?

    It reminds me of the game Harpoon Advanced Edition. They were stuck with ancient code from about 1998 and no matter what they fixed, they managed to introduce 2 additional bugs for every one they stamped out.

    iRacing has needed a ground-up rewrite for at least 5 years now.


    1. It’s based on Grand Prix Legends … 1997 based engine then
      So the most engine codes is from 1997 and 2003

      There are still bugs from 1997 in it btw! Try in iRacing breaking and turning in at 100% brake force … say bye to your rear


  8. So you complain about the nsm not working and now you’re complaining that it will be fixed next week? Shouldn’t we be happy? Your precious pcars would of just faked the model to make it better instead of finding the underlying bug.


  9. The only thing that is fixed in this game is the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of work to do to make sure you get a better deal. Why can’t they just say that this game is not completely worth the price and go out with a little bit more to play?


  10. A bug with the qualifying settings that accidentally carried over to the race session doesn’t mean that the NSM was “not fully functional”. It obviously worked perfectly fine in the Pro Peak series because they used a different Qual type than NiS that didn’t reproduce the bug. Doesn’t surprise me that you’ll tweak words to make it sound worse than it is.

    Sure it hasn’t been doing what its supposed to be doing, but it wasn’t the fault of the model itself. Just a few lines of code that wasn’t tested thoroughly enough with temporarily pausing the heat buildup so everyone in single car qualifying had the same conditions.


  11. So you point fingers at others before you do on yourself.

    “i poorly worded that title, but reddit doesnt allow edits” – your fucking fault, you normally don’t post bigger threads on reddit before writing it on something like notepad first and check over it to see if everything is good with it …

    Grow up kiddo please


          1. If so, that’s a really good indication. Because rF2 feels very close to the real thing.

            I’m hoping that future sims all start feeling increasingly similar (in terms of physics/FFB). That would be a good indication that they’re all independently approaching Reality.


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