iRacing’s Most Fundamental Problem: The Slow Outlap

Throughout my travels, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about whether iRacing is worth the money. This means temporarily putting personal biases and a general hatred for the sim racing community aside, and delivering a very short and concise summary in person as to whether this high profile software can adequately prepare you for a competition environment, or if it’s just a smoke and mirrors show crafted by an excellent marketing department.

You certainly can’t go very far, at least in the stock car racing world, without seeing an iRacing sticker somewhere or hearing another driver mention it in the pit area, and this only increases tenfold when you tune into a Monster Energy Series broadcast. Almost by osmosis has the popular online-oriented racing simulator established itself as the be-all, end-all form of virtual auto racing; the current narrative now claiming Hendrick Motorsports rookie William Byron “got his start” on the service, so naturally people are starting to ask some very valid questions. Can this game really prepare you for the real deal, or is there a lot of misinformation floating around?

The short answer is no, because iRacing features one very fundamental flaw: tire heating is backwards when compared to real life, therefore teaching rookie drivers a set of improper and borderline dangerous driving habits behind the wheel.

Let’s begin.

Regardless of what specific racing series we’re talking about, rubber tires operate in a very simple manner: heat makes them sticky, and therefore provides your race car with an increase in grip at high speeds, but too much heat reduces the overall adhesion of your tires, and makes your car prone to sliding. Each tire compound will have it’s own unique “sweet spot” when we talk about just how much heat provides the optimal amount of grip (and how long they last), but for beginners, all that’s necessary to understand is that there’s a strategy behind each stint out on the race track.

During their first lap or two, drivers must strategically exhibit force on all four corners of the car to generate heat within the tires for a beneficial increase in traction – hence the need for warm-up laps prior to the race commencing – but then while at speed be careful not to continuously over-stress the tires, as the temperature of the rubber will move further and further away from the sweet spot. The longer a driver is out on the track, the higher a tire’s temperature will naturally rise, forcing drivers to dial back their pace and drive in a more conservative fashion to both prevent the tire from over heating, and preserving it’s lifespan for the moments where pushing is absolutely required. You know, when battling for position and such.

It doesn’t matter if you’re running a stock car out in the Canadian backwoods, or have bought yourself a pricey GT3 ride (please tell us about it, we’d love to hear your story), your race engineer will ask the same of you upon exiting the pit lane for a practice session: slowly increase your pace to naturally work some heat into the tires, make the most out of the few laps in which your tires are operating at their peak performance, and then carefully manage the fall-off period by strategically restraining your pace. If you’re going out for qualifying, he’ll tell you to either light up the tires when exiting pit lane, or intentionally over-drive your out-lap to generate as much heat as possible in the minimum amount of real estate you have before taking the green flag.

In any situation, the core concept remains the same: building heat in your tires is absolutely necessary when driving a race car. This is the automotive equivalent of stretching before football practice. Like muscles in your body, tires need elasticity to function as they’re supposed to at speeds upwards of 160 km/h. Heat provides that much-needed elasticity. This cannot be ignored in a competition setting – pushing as hard as possible immediately upon leaving pit lane will nine times out of ten result in a destroyed race car, or a damaged ego while you sit in the gravel trap. It’s not a process that takes very long – just a few corners, if that – but it’s absolutely necessary.

You can experience this for yourself by going to your local Go Kart complex and observing the standings sheet once the race session with your buddies has concluded. Notice how your first few laps were woefully off pace, and the kart gradually got faster? Congratulations, Einstein, you’ve discovered how race car tires work. Planet Earth doesn’t load an alternative set of physics when you strap yourself into big boy cars.

iRacing’s most fundamental problem is that none of this happens; tire heat of any sort is a bad thing, and users are wrongly taught that cold tires offer peak performance.

A peculiar term any avid sim can search on YouTube is “iRacing Slow Outlap.” This query will net you several pages of uploads in which “no slow outlap” will appear in the video’s description, as if the creator is implying that this is somehow an unfair advantage he’s intentionally neglected to participate in. Videos from both Evan Maillard and Ricardo Castro Ledo, driving two completely different vehicles on circuits an entire ocean apart, both note their solo laps – in Evan’s case, a world record – were completed without making use of a slow outlap.

This was not an oddity that appeared in a build that was live for all of three days before promptly being patched; Evan’s video was released in February of 2012, whereas Ricardo’s came out in September of 2017. It’s been around for a while.

So what exactly is a slow outlap?

Through the use of iRacing’s infamous delta bar, a live-timing element of the user interface first introduced in 2011 that actively monitors your current pace in relation to your all-time fastest lap, avid sim racers have discovered that every single car featured in iRacing posts a blistering speed mere seconds after departing from pit road, to the point where sector times posted on the outlap are actually faster than those scored during the first timed lap a minute or two later. Whereas it is almost impossible in a real car to push at maximum attack immediately upon leaving pit lane, iRacing allows you to pursue in some cases world record pace just moments after firing the car and shifting into gear.

This led many sim racers to make the observation that iRacing’s tires are hyper-sensitive to any kind of heat, even the kind of natural heat that would accumulate when driving at competition speeds, and that cold tires, not warm tires, provided a user with optimal grip levels. As I’ve outlined above, this is backwards when compared to how rubber tires actually work on a race car.

The question among competitive circles then became how to preserve this optimal grip state for a timed lap, as pushing like a bat out of hell from the get-go would quickly generate too much heat by the time a user took the green flag. The answer was fairly simple: crawl around the track at 40 miles per hour, and punch it at the last possible moment before taking the green.

This is not something you will see in any real-world racing series, because this practice has no real-world application. This is a technique that does not work in real life, because this is not how rubber as a material operates. iRacing have objectively got it oh-so-very wrong.

Earlier this year, iRacing introduced Time Attack, a bite-sized feature intended for sim racers running on a tight schedule who still wanted to turn laps, yet couldn’t commit to a full event. It was seen as a generally positive addition to the simulator, as games such as Assetto Corsa, RaceRoom Racing Experience, Automobilista, and Project CARS 2 each have their own sub-section of their respective communities dedicated to leaderboard battles, so it was only natural for iRacing to expand into that territory as well.

However, deep within the iRacing member forums, users can be seen acting extremely disappointed over the implementation of what should have been a welcome addition to the simulator, as iRacing members are openly advising one another to idle around the circuit during the outlap while in pursuit of top times, a process which can take anywhere between five and seven minutes for just ninety seconds of spirited driving.  It’s obviously not something that sat well with the sim racers the mode was intended for.

Suddenly, the YouTube video description of “no slow outlap” paints a very clear picture. There is no tangible way to measure just how many iRacers routinely make use of this massive shortcoming in the physics engine for their own personal benefit. With many of the top iRacing championships both official and private offering extensive cash prizes for placing well, not to mention the increase in one’s personal reputation for simply putting down quick lap times, it’s not difficult to hypothesize a scenario in which basically every iRacing member is taking advantage of this exploit – at least, the competitive ones.

Are slow outlaps cheating? In my personal opinion, no. There is a shortcoming in the game’s physics engine that everyone can take advantage of, without the use of third party software. I would compare it to the modern-day equivalent of shift glitching in either Forza Motorsport or Project Gotham Racing. It’s something the developers simply messed up on, and now the users are reaping the benefits of.

Instead, I believe the existence of the slow outlap exploit falls dangerously close the category of false advertising.

Let me explain why.

Using the search function, mentions of the slow outlap exploit on the official iRacing forums can be found dating back all the way to 2012, when the New Tire Model project was in it’s infancy. The practice of employing this exploit during ranked and unranked session still occurs during present day, nearly five years later.

This is proof that iRacing developers have most likely known about fundamentally unrealistic tire behavior in their simulator for a grand total of twenty major update cycles (four build updates each year, spanning five years), yet failed to rectify the problem. What they have done, is continued to market the software as a highly authentic race car simulator that can also be used as a training tool for amateur and professional drivers alike, when real world techniques taught by professionals are demonstrably counter-productive to your success in the simulator.

What iRacing have also done, is continue to churn out car after car, and track after track, while simultaneously failing to address a fundamental flaw in the game’s car handling physics. I understand that there is a genuine need to keep injecting an aging simulator with new and exciting content to keep people interested. Neglecting a fatal flaw for five years in favor of this content, is absurd. There is no reason a simple heating problem shouldn’t have been fixed in sixty months, especially when it is constantly mentioned within earshot of the developers on the official forums.

So how does this classify as false advertising?

In 2012, an iRacing member by the name of Richie Stanaway left a comment on the thread dedicated to discussing the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix, a full-length virtual Formula One race put on as part of iRacing’s World Tour calendar – special events mimicking the real life auto racing schedule. Richie comments “I think I will lose my mind if I have to do another slow outlap + hotlap around here”, in obvious reference to the unrealistic act of idling around a four mile grand prix circuit to prevent the tires from acquiring any sort of heat prior to the scored lap. Richie also attaches a lighthearted table-flipping comic, conveying his frustration at the bizarre technique needed to register a competitive lap time.

As we have already covered, real life drivers do not idle around a professional racing circuit at school-zone speeds to prevent their tires from accumulating heat. Rubber tires, fundamentally, do not work that way.  They have never worked that way, and this is not how you drive a race car. The laws of physics do not provide a benefit for idling around a circuit as you would in iRacing. And as the timestamps have conveyed, iRacing have not fixed this massive flaw in their tire model. This is something iRacers are making use of in abundance, quite possibly while you’re reading this article.

iRacing’s testimonials page features an entry from Aston Martin factory driver Richie Stanaway, in which he writes “iRacing has been a huge part of my preparation as a racing driver. The car and track model accuracy is unprecedented […] I’ve driven various race car simulators but, for me, iRacing is still the best I’ve come across. iRacing has for sure made me a better race driver.”

That same Richie Stanaway can be seen in the above screenshot becoming frustrated at the bizarre technique required to post a competitive lap time in qualifying for a major iRacing online race, a technique he does not employ according to real-world on-board footage you can find on his YouTube channel. Richie is probably a good guy and doesn’t mean any harm so I’m not pointing the finger at him; the onus instead falls on iRacing for having the testicles to post this testimonial in the first place.

The average person interested in iRacing assumes that these testimonials from professional drivers are authentic, and generally represent what one can expect from the software. In thirty seconds, I was able to discover the same driver behind a very positive “testimonial” in which he claimed iRacing had helped prepare him for the real deal, was in fact lauding the use of a bizarre and unrealistic driving technique to post quick lap times that he most certainly doesn’t employ in his real cars, and it’s an exploit iRacing haven’t fixed in five years.

You read that correctly.

Five.

Years.

False advertising by definition is the use of misleading, false, or unproven information to advertise products to consumers. I would say this scenario fits that definition, and it certainly draws into question both the authenticity and the accuracy of other quotes on the testimonials page.

As always, my biggest question revolves around why this has not received more coverage. And I’m starting to sound like a broken record at this point for those who have hung around this place for the long haul, but it’s something that must be reiterated right here, right now.

iRacing is by far the most prolific and most reputable racing simulator on the market today, and has held that title for the better part of a decade as other games have come and gone. With so many YouTube personalities and so many specialized sim racing media outlets, you would think that a fundamental flaw in the way tires behave within the biggest simulator on the market would receive much more coverage, especially as this game is now being regarded as a “training tool” for future race car drivers by Fox Sports and NBC.

It seems like outlets such as InsideSimRacing or SimRacingPaddock – though there are several others – are uploading pointless “Test Drive” videos almost every other day, competing for an audience of just a few thousand. You’d think these outlets would be chomping at the bit to be the first one to upload an extensive breakdown of just how much an advantage cold tires provides you with, and how to employ the technique correctly during a qualification period, both for the benefit of sim racers, as well as to encourage iRacing’s developers to fix it.

Yet they haven’t.

This topic has gone uncovered for five straight years.

Why is that?

A few short years ago, TeamVVV discovered a hidden assist that could be activated in Formula One 2014. By switching on the “Override Input Device Type” setting, and then configuring your steering wheel as normal, the game would implement a hidden stability assist to your race car that would go undetected in league play. As a result, drivers could enter private championships and utterly decimate the competition with more speed than any custom setup could possibly warrant. Codemasters received a lot of shit, but the public service announcement was very much appreciated by the F1 gaming community. To this day, this piece remains TeamVVV’s finest work. Controversial, informative, and useful.

iRacing’s tire model has exhibited an even bigger flaw than Override Input Device Type; everything you know about how a race car tire works, goes out the window in favor of idling around a race track while trying to prevent big, sticky racing slicks from acquiring any heat whatsoever.

Silence.

iRacing’s most fundamental problem, is that cold tires produce more grip than warm tires, and has done so for five years.

As a training tool for amateur race car drivers, iRacing cannot be used, period. It teaches the user to run balls out immediately after turning over the ignition – a sure recipe for disaster in a real car – but then drive well under the limit of what their car is capable of in an effort to keep tire temperatures low at all costs, rather than to strategically push and conserve based on the situation at hand – which real racing tires allow. Prolonged use of iRacing as a practice tool for real world events is utterly foolish; the software’s tire model rewards hyper-conservative driving, and punishes any sort of spirited lapping that would otherwise be welcomed in a real car.

In simpler terms, iRacing encourages you to intentionally drive slow.  I find it utterly mind-blowing that iRacing have not made any attempt at rolling out a widespread fix for this since the discovery of the exploit in 2012, especially when (for the most part) every other simulator on the market gets this fundamental part of tire behavior, absolutely correct.

But at least now you know about it.

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The More Things Change…

…the more they stay the same.

A couple months back, I saw a buddy of mine celebrate the completion of his first half-marathon via Facebook. He’d lost a bit of weight and was now living a really active lifestyle, which for anyone in their early 20’s is highly commendable – especially when many in our age group opt to experiment with binge drinking and hard drugs as a form of entertainment. It was hard not to be happy for the guy considering where he was at just a few months prior, and knowing what he’d given up in the pursuit of self-improvement. This friend was not someone I’d known from high school or met at an old job I’d had many years ago; he was instead one of the top iRacers in the world.

We’ve been led to believe by delusional developers that sim racing as an eSport will explode in popularity virtually any minute now, and having an iRating within the top 25 is your one-way ticket to super stardom – the years of slugging it out on the service carving your path straight to the big leagues. Yet right in the thick of it, he left. Just like that.

I didn’t have to ask why. He handed over his account details and told me to poke around.

So I did.

The baseline setup for the Pro Late Model at the Las Vegas Bullring carries the left front tire on corner exit. Asphalt stock cars don’t do this, nor do they let you put your foot to the floor before reaching the apex. iRacing, in their infinite wisdom, believe otherwise. This is the exact car we campaigned this year away from the keyboard, so at the very least we can tell you this isn’t how these cars work unless there are multiple broken components, or parts just flat-out not installed. My first impression of iRacing, after an absence of almost three years from the service, is that NASCAR Heat 2 – a game designed with teenagers as the primary target audience – is a more technically sound stock car experience. iRacing’s Pro Late Model requires almost zero throttle control, and raises the left front like a dirt car.

Seriously, what?

I’m not asking for a leaderboard setup to be supplied off the bat. I’m asking for a setup the keeps all four tires on the ground. iRacing were unable to do that. So I had to make my own, and to the surprise of precisely nobody, the car was extremely boring to turn laps in – but at least it was fast. I know how exciting these cars are to drive in real life. iRacing made me feel like I was playing an arcade game. You should at least be able to spin the tires and get a little bit of a wiggle going on out of the corners. iRacing doesn’t let you. NASCAR Heat 2, on the other hand, does, and does so at a fraction of the cost.

The Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Pro Late Model costs $11.95 USD and was one of the first cars ever released for iRacing back in 2009. Eight years later, it exhibits problems on par with those of an unfinished rFactor mod. I understand that the team have to split their attention between a lot of cars and a lot of gameplay elements, all of which need varying levels of polish, but charging a premium price compared to other video games should warrant something that resembles a premium product.

Not something that can be outdone by a kid in his bedroom, or a team on a shoe-string budget.

A post on the official iRacing member forums – which you can’t view without first paying the entry fee – reveals that these cars have been basically abandoned by the developers; one user describing them as “obnoxiously terrible.” It’s strange that these kinds of comments only appear behind lock and key, whereas the sim racing community have no problem being quite hostile to other simulators within the genre.

Or is it? A short entry on the WordPress blog The Flipside Announcer – presumably written by someone from the broadcast crew at LSRTV – notes that iRacing have instructed broadcasters to either disable live chat functionality or kill the feed altogether if something appears during a race which may damage iRacing’s reputation. Though it’s not outright confirmation that iRacing will individually hunt down users who leave negative comments about the game on social media, it’s proof that the team are paranoid about sim racers freely discussing how they feel about the software.

With several drivers not being able to maintain connection to the racing servers, the race, and broadcast, were rescheduled, leaving hundreds of angry viewers with an open comments section on the YouTube stream, which descended into pure chaos. Sure enough, iRacing was not happy at all, and asked that the chat be muted for all top tier events on the service going forward. The flame war was simply too much bad PR, and they wanted to step around it.

It’s not hard to imagine there may be hidden repercussions for YouTube personalities or website editors who dare to voice negative remarks about portions of the iRacing software. As a result, paying the entry fee and combing the forums is the only way to learn which iRacing cars are broken or neglected. It turns out there are several, and it makes you wonder what kind of pull iRacing would have on the sim racing market if these sentiments weren’t tucked away, but instead regurgitated by review channels or popular YouTube streamers.

Ouch.

For most of tonight, I turned my attention to the Super Late Model, which is one of the more recent oval racing cars added to the iRacing service, even though as of this writing we’ve had it on the simulator for over three years. Practice rooms were extremely popular, and I was able to crack into a podium spot in a session consisting of more than thirty cars – a nice change of pace from SimRacingSystem’s maximum of twenty.

Like most iRacers, during practice laps I drive with the infamous delta bar activated, so I can see where I’m both gaining and losing speed in real time. I found it quite peculiar that I could routinely set my fastest sector two speed during my outlap, meaning I was on pace with my personal best time just five seconds after leaving pit lane.

This is impossible to do in a real car.

Rubber tires, at least in reality, take a little while to come up to temperature. This is something you don’t need an expensive race car to experience – go to your local go kart complex and purchase a few sessions, you’ll figure it out pretty fast that the kart drives like total ass for your first two or three laps. Upping the scale into a full size race car, the vehicle literally won’t turn when you exit the pits, and during extended practice sessions in real life it’s not uncommon to come up on somebody who is putting around off-pace. No, they’re not scared shitless behind the wheel, what they’re doing is building heat in the tires by progressively increasing their pace.

iRacing doesn’t have this. Your tires are at maximum grip when your car first spawns in the pit box, and then lose grip in a linear fashion as you increase the overall distance driven. I’ve set absurd sector times not achievable during a timed lap, mere seconds after exiting the pits. This is wrong, but even more astonishing is how there isn’t a widespread cry for this to be fixed. It’s just sort of brushed under the rug, waiting to be discovered by the average sim racing rubbing two brain cells together.

I don’t understand how the biggest name in sim racing, with a near unlimited budget and access to an enormous amount of technical data across several auto racing disciplines, failed to comprehend the core concept behind how rubber tires work; heat makes them sticky, and sticky is fast. The opposite is true in iRacing. This is incorrect, and I’m astonished that fundamentally flawed tire behavior is deemed to be a quirky footnote by the community whom refuse to openly discuss it unless within the private confines of the iRacing forums, but will gladly turn around and berate you for playing something like Formula One 2017 – even though it features correct tire behavior.

Disabling force feedback, an act that would be sacrilegious among owners of thousand-dollar direct drive wheels, shaves off an extra tenth of a second on the race track. This may not mean much for the road course guys, but on ovals, this is an entire second over just ten laps of a short track, and two seconds over five laps at a normal speedway. I’m under the belief that the virtual steering column has been modeled in a way that magnifies light wheel movements created by the force feedback rattling your toy steering wheel around. There is a significant increase in cornering speed from being able to hold your steering wheel in a set position without interference from the force feedback effects.

Yes, even the most obscure of North American oval tracks have been faithfully replicated down to millimeter accuracy. Yes, at most reasonable hours of the day, there are always people to practice with or race against. Yes, iRacing will probably run on your outdated piece of shit backup computer, while still somehow managing to look good on modern systems. Yes, there’s a paint booth, yes there’s the ability to organize your own league with friends, and yes there’s a detailed ranking system that rewards you for safe driving.

But why does any of this matter if the driving experience stinks?

Over the span of an evening, I discovered broken default setups, rubber tires that perform worse with heat, and the ability to gain an extra tenth on track by clicking a box in the options menu. I also found the community labeling cars as “obnoxiously broken” behind closed doors, and at least one representative from a streaming crew admitting iRacing previously instructed them to censor public discussion and kill the feed if anything out of ordinary were to happen.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. iRacing is still, at the very least, a gigantic rip-off.

Kart, New Centripetal Test Facility Teased in iRacing Leak

The rumors of regional karting championships eventually appearing in the popular online-only racing simulator have now been confirmed. A YouTube account under the name of Red Dodger has uploaded two short videos appearing to show off iRacing’s private alpha build, sloppily using his cell phone to record otherwise authentic footage of the game’s upcoming content. At what appears to be a totally reconfigured centripetal test circuit – now boasting an exterior oval track similar to the test facility in Street Legal Racing: Redline – the user awkwardly spins and slides for about a minute to display that, yes, karting is in development for the iRacing platform.

With only 135 views at the time of this article going live, Red’s account is sure to be compromised and his status as an alpha tester revoked, but for the moment we’ve now received unprecedented access into what iRacing’s marketing department will happily advertise over the next few months until its inevitable release. Though there isn’t a substantial online kart racing community to begin with that justifies this venture – the disappearance of Kartkraft followed by relatively little disappointment as evidence – iRacing will now attempt to expand into that demographic

Red has also uploaded footage of the Ford Fiesta WRC in action, as iRacing will soon implement their own variant of Red Bull Global Rallycross into the simulator in an effort to expand on the array of dirt-based content currently available. Despite iRacing’s dirt side receiving almost unanimously positive reviews across the greater sim racing community, car counts have been steadily dropping since launch as users quickly ran out of things to do, meaning that the time spent on developing loose surface physics was seen mostly as a novelty by those not well-versed in American oval racing. The rallycross content should at least breathe new life into loose service racing on the competitive multiplayer outlet, as the sport of rallycross has rapidly increased in popularity thanks to energy drink brands Monster and Red Bull offering significant financial backing.

iRacing have shown promise in recent months; the handling characteristics of their 2017 Porsche Cup establishing itself as a clear contender for the title of “iRacing’s best car” with flying colors, but with this new influx of content on the horizon it remains to be seen whether iRacing will revisit the rest of their vehicles – or tires – to polish them in the appropriate ways. Long-time iRacing members are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the stagnation of the game’s tire model, noting that after several years, cold tires still produce more traction than warm tires, and FR cars struggle to exhibit the amount of wheelspin on par with their real-world counterparts.

On one hand, it’s nice to see iRacing expanding into “alternative” motorsport categories as of late to try and establish themselves as the true home of virtual motorsports. Yet with posts like these floating around on the official forum, it’s easy to theorize that the surge of new content is to partially distract users from nagging issues still to be rectified after many years, and to keep the lights on in the face of declining interest.

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.

Asymmetrical Handling Still Plagues iRacing After Eight Years

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.

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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.