The McLaren 1300 GT3?

As part of their fall 2015 downloadable content bundle for Assetto Corsa, Kunos Simulazioni’s partnership with McLaren allowed them to bring their significantly more refined GT3 entry – the 650s – into the popular PC racing simulator to legions upon legions of hardcore motor racing fans. Boasting an entirely new front suspension configuration under the body work, a slightly more appealing nose piece, and a tremendously less bizarre name to type out on a keyboard, the 650s was just one of the ten cars Assetto Corsa enthusiasts could get their hands on for a pretty reasonable price. While each vehicle featured in the bundle added something extra to Assetto Corsa, kicking off a wave of DLC that still hasn’t let up many years later, the 650s found a natural home in the GT3 category, becoming a go-to car for several sim racers who prefer their race cars with the engine in the rear, and exhaust gasses fed back into the engine. McLaren’s Formula One program may be failing, but it certainly hasn’t stopped them from engineering some ridiculously sexy race cars elsewhere in the motorsports kingdom.

Now at the command of rFactor 2, Studio 397 have brought this same car into the world of ISI’s mishandled project – the McLaren 650s GT3 marking the first piece of paid DLC for the aging racing simulator. Four other licensed GT3 cars are said to follow suit in a more comprehensive pack that will be available in the near future, but the 650s appears to have received special treatment and gotten the green light much earlier than the others, as it will be used in McLaren’s own World’s Fastest Gamer competition that’s getting underway right this minute.

(Maybe it’s best to ignore that they’re lapping over two full seconds quicker than the real life car. Some top-tier simulation you’ve got there.)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I do not feel comfortable knocking Studio 397 for releasing paid downloadable content for rFactor 2, as in my opinion the McLaren 650s is an excellent addition to the simulator, and worth the asking price if you purchased the car in the larger GT3 bundle. rFactor 2 for the longest time has been nothing but a slew of awkward content that never really meshed well together – over-saturated with generic open wheel rides and unlicensed knock-off’s – so having a familiar face on the vehicle roster will help sim racers on the fence see the software in a much more welcoming light. It’s probably going to suck major balls for some rFactor 2 owners who paid for lifetime and got practically nothing in return aside from being told they’d have to buy all of the upcoming relevant content on top of their base purchase, but it’s a necessary evil to move rFactor 2 forward. The modding community just isn’t there like the first game to pick up the slack and turn the sim into something wild.

However, what sim racers might have an issue with, is what exactly it is they’re paying for. The McLaren 650s is the first official content release under rFactor 2’s new overlords, Studio 397, so a lot of people have been looking forward to this because it will indicate the quality of material the new group are capable of producing. Unfortunately, unless I have enormously bad eye-sight, the 3D model used in Studio 397’s McLaren 650s GT3 appears to be identical to the one Kunos Simulazioni used for the Dream Pack DLC. Please enlarge the picture I’ve inserted below and compare between the two images the following elements:

  • The direction the steering wheel knobs have been turned.
  • The position of the RaceLogic on-board laptime tracker
  • The air vent angles
  • The windscreen sunstrip proportions
  • The same brake bias dial with poor UV mapping

Textures, of course, have been slightly changed, but to any average Joe comparing the two images – the left being rFactor 2 and the right being Assetto Corsa – it’s extremely hard to deny that this may possibly be the exact same car model.

Is this a bad thing?

Well, yeah, kind of.Sim racers constantly mock Forza Motorsport fans for getting sucked into Turn 10’s expensive monthly DLC cycle, which in past years – especially on the Xbox 360 – had seen the development team sell the same cars as DLC with each passing iteration of the franchise, meaning that some gamers were paying a fee multiple times just to access a near identical set of cars for their new game. In the most notorious cases, the hardcore Forza supporters among us have purchased no less than three seperate Porsche packs – one for Forza Motorsport 4, another for Horizon 3, and lastly a third pack for Forza Motorsport 6. Sim racers once had a valid argument to mock their console brethren, yet now some of these same sim racers have a bit of explaining to do.

It also reflects poorly on Studio 397. This is a team whom were given the keys to the rFactor 2 kingdom at around this time last year, and many had high hopes for the direction in which they would take the dying hardcore simulator. For them to push out a car that at the very least heavily borrows assets from a third party source, while other news sites are claiming they have built this car completely in-house, is kind of shitty. Will the other four cars, most likely the Mercedes AMG, BMW Z4, Audi R8, and the Nissan GT-R, also be suspiciously similar to their Assetto Corsa counterparts?

I’ve supplied the comparison photographs, and y’all can draw your own conclusions, but in my opinion it’s not a good look to push out a piece of original content where even the dials on the steering wheel and vertices that make up the windshield banner are difficult to differentiate from one game to the next.

Given how many talented modders there are in the sim racing community, it’s a real possibility that Studio 397 simply purchased the same 3D model that Kunos Simulazioni did – a team who are notorious for outsourcing their car models – but the difference here is that sim racers potentially already paid for the model once, as part of a ten car pack alongside an iconic track, and here they might be forking over six dollars for just the car itself. Studio 397 aren’t exactly in a position where people won’t care; they need to impress people, and fast, with their own creations for rFactor 2. Yet in this situation, to me it looks as if a sketchy amateur modder – the same ones chastized by the community for ripping car models – could have taken the McLaren 650s from Assetto Corsa and provided you with largely the same experience in rFactor 2 for no cost at all.

You know, a very familiar looking car model that posts laps two seconds quicker than the real car.

It’s certainly going to add a very interesting sub-plot into the sim racing community – is it okay if multiple developers share assets, and are customers okay with paying multiple times for the exact same car and car model, just to have it in as many games as possible? And on the flip side, should we continue to go on angry crusades against individuals who rip and convert content to inflate the car selection of their favorite simulator, when developers are potentially doing the same – albeit with permission from the original author first?

What a strange era for sim racing.

 

Advertisements

rFactor 2 and Formula E: Why You Don’t Get Married in Vegas

In the event you’ve pushed the bizarre spectacle out of your mind – like many of us have since that fateful day January of 2017 was an especially dark time for the sim racing landscape. With the eSports craze in full swing, propelling basement nerds into super-stardom for their prowess in a wildly popular game of wizards and warlocks… or something like that… and delusional Formula E marketing members grossly over-estimating the appeal of virtual auto racing to the general public, international credit card company Visa jumped in to serve as the pastor of the little white chapel, wedding the two entities that should have never crossed paths in the first place. And like all marriages taking place during prime time in Las Vegas, Nevada, the endeavor immediately warranted absolutely atrocious results.

The Visa Vegas eRace promised to be the event which helped rocket sim racing to the top of the eSports totem pole, but instead quickly descended into chaos. A million dollar prize purse, and a grid which mixed real life Formula E racers with the best simulation drivers from around the world, did very little to mask an abundance of technical difficulties and organizational gaffes that quite simply should never have manifested during an event of this stature. Rather than jump on board with this relatively new and exciting eSports discipline, viewers immediately mocked the stoic personalities on the grid, rFactor 2’s objectively poor visual style, and the outcome of the race itself, which saw the FIA manually adjust the results following the podium celebration after an outcome-affecting glitch with the in-car boost functionality.

In short, it was a disaster, and while most of us do genuinely wish sim racing would become a bit more popular – just to have more people on the grid in multiplayer events at the very least – what happened in Vegas, should have stayed in Vegas.

Indie blog SimRacingPaddock have recently discovered the opposite; a job opening on the Formula E website heavily implies the full roster of Formula E drivers, vehicles, and locations are now set to appear in Studio 397’s rFactor 2; bringing with it an even larger eSports championship.

It’s certainly low-hanging fruit to rip into a series such as Formula E, but I’m going to do it anyways because that’s the core subject of this article.

First of all, rFactor 2 is dying a very slow, painful death. Unlike the first game in the franchise, the sequel’s modding community has not exploded, the online scene revolves around two or three very specific Endurance Racing leagues rather than a diverse array of disciplines and race formats, and the game’s vanilla content is so all over the place and so misguided, it’s hard to recommend to anyone aside from the most hardcore of sim racing enthusiasts. If Studio 397 want to rejuvenate the game and make it appeal to more than just the 5% of the community who buy every sim regardless, they need captivating content.

This is why I have not ripped into Studio 397’s upcoming paid DLC featuring McLaren race cars; while I feel it’s kind of a dick move to start selling paid DLC when your game has so little of a fanbase to support it – not to mention all those people who paid for lifetime and are now realizing that investment was pointless – at least it’ll be a bundle of cars people will be excited to drive, and potentially showcase rFactor 2 in a much better light. Maybe I’m burnt out from a stressful day at the race track and seeing things in a very non-PRC perspective for today, but being able to say there’s a McLaren 650s GT3 car in rFactor 2 is a lot better than awkwardly telling people they can race a shitty Nissan 370z at Atlanta Motorsports park. This is not attractive to anyone and you are a goddamn fool if you think it is.

But then there’s Formula E, or according to the above webpage, all of Formula E.

Let’s get the initial complaints out of the way. Formula E cars are slow, and they’re extremely quiet to a fault – you could argue they’re full-scale electric go-karts. I mean fine, if you want to release a stand-alone Formula E game, be my guest, but I’m assuming this will be a paid expansion pack for rFactor 2, and rFactor 2 is a game for hardcore sim racers. This won’t sell and won’t entice people to try out rFactor 2, because it’s not what the greater sim racing fanbase want. These people want crazy, exciting shit to drive, and this is something you should be able to deduce just by hanging out in the sim community for a while. The most popular sim racing content, off the top of my head, would be the DRM cars of the late 1970’s, the 1998 CART mod, and the Lotus 49 – regardless of the game in which it’s featured. All of these cars have one thing in common; the insane power to weight ratio, which makes just turning laps in them an adventure unto itself. Formula E, by comparison, is the opposite.

So Studio 397 are going to go through all this effort to build cars that people couldn’t care less about and won’t bother purchasing, because it’s the anti-thesis of what sim racing is supposed to be. Sim racing at it’s core is about being able to drive exciting race cars you’d never have a shot at piloting in person – unless you start a blog and shitpost your way into a late model ride. Formula E vehicles just don’t scratch that proverbial itch, period, and this is exasperated by the numerous other low power single seaters already in rFactor 2. Congrats, Studio 397, you have added yet another generic open wheel car to your simulator. Well done! Except this time, they’re a goofy Crystal Pepsi offshoot of grand prix racing, a series designed in a board room by clueless boomers in a desperate ploy to appeal to millennials, who would rather send dick pics on Snapchat than attend a race in person.

And then there are the tracks.

Above is a shot of the Brooklyn ePrix as constructed by Maciej1 over at the Gene-Rally International forum, and though it’s a track created for a freeware racing title featuring cars built from just forty polygons, it drills home how absurd it is for Studio 397 to pursue a major partnership with Formula E. This track layout is a complete clusterfuck of concrete walls and absurdly narrow choke points, two elements of a racing circuit that will be a nightmare not just offline – with rFactor 2’s rudimentary AI – but online against other players as well. These circuits will be a nightmare in a virtual setting because they breed endless chaos, similar to the Tokyo Expressway circuit in the Gran Turismo Sport beta. Once one guy knocks down a wall and gets sideways in front of the field, everyone else behind him is a surefire fatality. Alone or in a public lobby, that’s a quick way to discourage users from never racing there again and telling their friends not to bother purchasing the content. In a competitive setting, like what Formula E are planning, it’s openly asking for every single televised virtual race to be a complete and utter disaster.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for any developer to pursue Formula E, but when rFactor 2 supporters are asking for more content, giving them tracks they’ll race on once, realize how terrible they are, and never drive them again, isn’t the way to go about doing things.

They also take an enormous amount of time to build. Unless Studio 397 will purchase track models from Electronic Arts and use the same circuits found in Real Racing 3, dedicating the art team to building all of the tracks on the schedule is going to take away time from completing other projects that would actually add to rFactor 2. Had Formula E raced at popular circuits not yet seen in rFactor 2, this wouldn’t be much of an issue because the track roster would grow in a way that accommodates all players, but the problem here is how these tracks are designed specifically with Formula E cars in mind. If you aren’t specifically a Formula E fan, Studio 397 are wasting time on building tracks that you will never race on, pushing the release date of content you actually do want so far into the future, it’s probably better to just buy a different game altogether.

And that leads to the summary of this whole mess. I genuinely believe it’s a very stupid move for Studio 397 to get involved with Formula E and perpetuate the misery that was the Visa Vegas eRace.

First of all, the series isn’t doing very well. Our boy Chris had the option of attending the Brooklyn event as he lives close by, but at $80 per ticket, full-scale electric go-karts on a tight circuit that doesn’t breed many passing opportunities is a particularly hard sell. Had the actual series exploded in popularity overnight, then yeah, good on Studio 397 for jumping on that while it’s hot. But unfortunately, that’s not how things transpired in real life. It’s still seen as this weird off-shoot series, even with Mercedes abandoning DTM in favor of campaigning an ePrix factory team. I can’t name a single person who follows the series, enjoys the races, or has actively voiced to me in passing that they’d want to drive these cars in a sim.

Second, rFactor 2 needs more content, but this is the wrong type of content. In a game over-saturated by amateur and semi-pro single seaters, it’s yet another semi-pro single seater, this time with almost no engine sound. This is, of course, exactly what sim racers want to spend money on after purchasing expensive surround sound setups and add-ons for their sim rig like ButtKicker – a car that makes almost no sound at all. The tracks are also so obscure and so anti-competition, your average sim racer won’t get much use out of them – this isn’t Spa or Barcelona, where you can generally take any vehicle on the roster to the circuit and generally receive an enjoyable race in return.

Third, the push for sim racing to become an eSport is beating a dead horse at this point. iRacing struggles to attain more than a few hundred viewers for their two most prestigious series, whereas Madden or FIFA tournament finals can reel in almost one million views. That should be a pretty clear indication that if even the biggest simulator team in the business, after eight years in action, still can’t get more than a few hundred views on YouTube for their World Championships, that maybe it’s time to give up on this eSports thing and just focus on making a good game your core audience will want to play.

And chasing after Formula E for the complete ePrix experience isn’t the way to go about doing so.

 

 

Rumor: ISI to Assist in Developing GTR 3?

Still kept from the eyes of the public despite the summer months being a traditional time to release information on upcoming games, SimBin UK’s GTR 3 continues to be a rather perplexing story in the world of sim racing. Announced several times over the years before either failing to manifest, or turning into other projects altogether, the justified skepticism surrounding the current iteration of the title only grew louder, as sim racers noticed the proof of concept screenshots released at the beginning of 2017 from SimBin UK – supposedly representing a multi-platform racing simulator under the name of GTR 3 – could have been mocked up in mere minutes within the Unreal Engine, thus indicating the game might not be under active development, but a publicity stunt to secure funding. While all of us want GTR 3 to finally manifest and land in our hands given the previous edition’s widespread critical and commercial success, SimBin UK’s silence in regards to the title is indeed worrying; key job openings, a lack of social media activity, and interviews with the team themselves paint a very different picture about GTR 3’s existence. In short, it doesn’t look likely.

However, a rogue comment left on PRC, and a bit of circumstantial evidence, indicates GTR 3 may possibly be deep in development after all with the help of a major player within the ecosystem – though it’s certainly not something that should be taken as fact just yet.

The rumor, left on our website by an anonymous user in late June with no prior posting history, alleges that Image Space Incorporatedcreators of both F1 Challenge 99-02, as well as the revolutionary open-ended racing simulator rFactor – have partnered with SimBin UK on the upcoming sports car simulator. Of course, with some of the inane garbage landing in our comments section on a daily basis, it’s hard to believe much of anything that’s written in sim racing’s cesspool of insanity, but there are at least grounds to turn this into a reasonable sounding rumor, rather than something completely out of left field.

Image Space Incorporated transferred development of their flagship racing simulator, rFactor 2, to a team operating under the name of Studio 397 last fall, essentially ending ISI’s direct involvement in a piece of software they’d been actively developing since at least 2003 or 2004. However, the company did not outright state they were ceasing operations and moving away from the sim racing micro-industry altogether; along with message board posts echoing this same sentiment, the last time I spoke to Tim Wheatley, he implied they had taken up a project that’s “not rFactor 3”, but will use the isiMotor engine rather than working to develop it.

I originally believed this to be a revival of the IndyCar racing franchise, considering ISI had acquired the license to both Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as the Dallara DW12 for rFactor 2, but my assertions later proved to be incorrect when Slightly Mad Studios revealed a full IndyCar field and several tracks on the 2017 schedule for their own simulator, Project CARS 2.

If the rumor left in the anonymous PRC comment is to be believed, this would now point to ISI being involved in the resurrection of GTR 3 by SimBin UK, as the most practical application for the isiMotor engine – like I’ve discussed before here on PRC – would be in endurance sports car racing, where changes in weather, lighting, and track conditions are commonplace, and the engine could be used to its fullest extent. It would also explain why SimBin UK are so confident in announcing GTR 3 to the world despite being a relatively small staff seemingly incapable of constructing the game themselves; outsourcing fundamental portions of the game’s development to a highly experienced team would allow them to actually get the game off the ground, while taking care of the elements they are capable of achieving, such as securing licenses and retaining assets such as car and track models from their sister company, Sector 3 Studios.

Obviously, it’s all just rumors and speculation, but it’s a rumor that seems rather reasonable. SimBin UK aren’t big enough to create a multi-platform racer like GTR 3 all by themselves, and it’s been public knowledge that Image Space Incorporated are working on something behind closed doors, not yet interested in completely retiring from the sim racing community. Helping out on GTR 3 would be a natural and exciting fit for both ISI and SimBin UK, as the isiMotor engine would thrive with the  subject matter centered around what their engine does best.

If hell does freeze over and this all comes to fruition, sim racers have every reason to be excited. A polished, feature-complete rendition of rFactor 2 focusing on one primary racing series is long overdue in the genre.

GTR 3 - 4

Reader Submission #140 – Calamity Forces HSO to Re-Schedule Indianapolis 500

An incredible package of open wheel cars warranted an equally captivating online championship, but for the Historic Sim Racing Organization, things on the competition end of the spectrum just aren’t going according to plan.

A few months back, we here at PRC introduced our readers to the stellar CART 88 mod for the original rFactor, a download bundling every single vehicle variant and driver combination that took the green flag during the 1988 American open wheel season into a light-weight download for the legendary rFactor simulation. While many were blown away by the sheer challenge of pushing these cars to the limit, and borderline-autistic attention to detail that replicated engine improvements and chassis swaps across each event, CART 88 as an rFactor mod was only part of the complete sales pitch; HSO would conduct their own full-length, full-distance online championship throughout the 2017 calendar year, allowing hardcore sim racers to step back in time and subject themselves to the same challenges their favorite drivers faced depending on their car of choice – whether that meant limping an under-powered backmarker entry to the finish line, or repeating Danny Sullivan’s dominance.

Yet after only two and a half events, HSO’s CART 88 championship is being remembered not for the intense battles, crafty race strategies, and stellar displays of sim racing prowess, but instead for ineptitude on the part of its entrants. Today’s Reader Submission from an anonymous sim racer competing in the series is here to tell us that while the mod is amazing, the series it was built for, isn’t.

Hello PRC. As I’m sure most of you know, the long process of practicing, qualifying and eventually racing the Indianapolis 500 is well underway. To coincide with this, the Historic Sim Racing organization are holding their own virtual rendition of the event. Using their exceptional, in-house developed CART 88 mod, HSO are running a full season using the mod, with the Indy 500 event being the jewel in the crown. However, this race – the most notable on the entire HSO schedule – has been absolutely plagued by issues. It has been memorable for all the wrong reasons, as the Indy 500 was cancelled (and promptly re-scheduled, to the credit of HSO) without even reaching a tenth of the proposed distance, as ignorance from competitors reigned supreme.

The race was due to start at 20:30 CET, but was delayed for over half an hour due to connection issues experienced by the head administrator. Inconvenient, but very understandable that we’d be required to wait for the primary official, because that’s who is going to guarantee us a fair race. However, this would be the most minor of problems all night, as in my opinion it descended into anarchy.

HSO’s Indy race called on a total of four manual formation laps. The first one was to be completed in rows of two, the next two run in single file, and the field assembling in the iconic rows of three for the final lap. One may ask how competitors were to know when to get underway considering rFactor can only support one formation lap, and the answer lies in hiring a manual pace car driver to do the dirty work for the three additional laps, and then typing “green” as a way to indicate a live green flag.

This is where the first start faltered. After four formation laps, the pace car driver miscounted the laps. He didn’t type green into the chat, and was still on the course. Confused, an admin further back down the field gave the go-ahead. This was disastrous, as the pace car was still on the racing surface. Despite the driver’s best efforts to get out of the way, the field was flustered and a major turn one pile up ensued, with the race restarting.

From that point on, the race was unable to restart smoothly. Several drivers who had partaken in the first start now had connection problems and could not see any cars, as their games did not sync with the server. There were several attempts at formation laps, many of which resulted in additional crashes due to some drivers not being able to see anyone. This was an unwise decision as the people having connection issues could have their problems solved by quitting the server and rejoining.

A short break was taken after the race failed to launch in a clean fashion, with the event now running an hour behind schedule.

Unfortunately, things got even worse. There were more pile-ups on the formation laps, leading to more restarts. In some instances this wasn’t the fault of HSO or any admins;  some drivers just had incompatible internet connections yet still tried to race when they should have thought twice signing up for an online league knowing their internet can’t handle it. As a result, the last restart sealed the fate of the race. A caution was called during the start procedure, adding an extra lap before the start as more sim racers embarrassingly crashed on the formation lap. The race did eventually get underway, but the group failed to complete a green flag lap before the yellow flew again. One driver, who had caused full race restarts in the past due to poor internet, put his foot to the floor way earlier than anyone else. He plowed through stationary cars, taking out no less than ten drivers while somehow managing to remain undamaged thanks to shoddy netcode. This ended up being the final straw for HSO admins, who cancelled the event shortly thereafter.

For HSO to operate properly in races of high notability and of a large entry list, they really need good restrictions on the quality of their competitors’ connections, and begrudgingly bar anyone with connection issues. If you can’t see anyone or are lagging like crazy, you should have the decency to park your car, simple. I’m not placing the blame totally on HSO here, the competitors should have the sense to pull out if their connection is like this. However, the admins should regulate how good their entrants’ connections are. I hope there are plans to do so.

This is not a hit-piece on HSO. I compete in the league on a regular basis and wholeheartedly enjoy it. Their in-house mods are the stuff of dreams and most of their races (which are on a smaller scale in terms of entrants) are meticulously organized and go down without issue. However, I would like them to learn some lessons from this farcical occasion. They are a non-profit organization at the end of the day, however their recent gigantic success in the area of mod development has catapulted them into the spotlight, and they need to be giving off a better showing than this.

I agree some effort should be made to impose internet connection requirements not just in HSO, but as many sim racing leagues and clubs as possible. Yes, back in 2005, high speed internet was a bit of a luxury, and at the time it would slightly inappropriate to demand the average sim racer to fork over a pretty penny just to continue what were essentially “gaming nights with the boys,” but times have changed. It’s been twelve years since the original rFactor came out, and cell phones can now download high resolution pornography at light speed while sim racing as a genre has grown exponentially, so there’s really no excuse for dropping loads on pricey wheels, pedals monitors, and button boxes while simultaneously lagging all over the fucking place because your ass suddenly can’t afford anything more than Wal-Mart WiFi.

Call me a major asshole, but you’ve had twelve years and a few console generations to put some money aside so you can upgrade your internet. At some point you have to stop pandering to these people.

However, I will say that the old adage of “sim racers turning five off-pace laps in a historic car before running to the forums and bragging they’re unable to drive it” is a large portion of why the CART 88 series isn’t going the way many have wanted it to. Though we rightfully gave HSO heavy coverage for a phenomenal mod, myself and Dustin ended up backing out after just two races because it was becoming very apparent that only a fraction of the grid could handle these cars for multiple laps in a row. Not only was building a setup for these beasts extremely finicky, they were very difficult to master on warm tires – we’re talking Grand Prix Legends in fast forward. By comparison, most of the guys who signed up for the league weren’t capable of driving the cars in a safe fashion; they either grew up watching the cars, or had an interest in historic online racing. That combination works well in other HSO series that use big, bulky classic GT cars with the weight and general performance characteristics of a modern family sedan, but certainly not here with these speeds.

There is a silver lining to all of this: I’ve been told that HSO will re-schedule the race and do everything in their power to force their league members to prove themselves (and their internet connection) in a different class before moving up to higher-powered cars such as 80’s CART monstrosities, it just sucks these things weren’t figured out prior to the season starting.

SRTC Silently Pulls “Million Dollar Championship” Service Website, Leaves More Questions than Answers

Back in early February, we here at PRC.net ran a rather perplexing article focusing on SRTC’s brand new online racing portal, which promised a structured sim racing environment for rFactor 2 that supposedly handed out extensive cash prizes for partaking in various championships making use of the game’s vanilla content – and a popular third party mod or two.

With the cost of membership exponentially higher than what one could expect from diving into the deep end of the iRacing pool, prizes said to reside in the four to six figure range, and even a couple of elaborate trips to exotic locales such as Las Vegas and Barcelona offered to the most talented sim racers on the service’s leaderboard, the whole thing seemed too good to be true; select broken English wording and vague advertisements that didn’t really explain much of anything were merely the icing on the cake in a shitstorm of confusion.

https://pretendracecars.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/pricing.jpg?w=1572&h=916

Though a representative from SRTC appeared in our comments section requesting to be interviewed so he could set the record straight, it was incredibly hard to justify giving him the time of day considering the website alone painted a very questionable picture in regards to the company’s intentions. Good, honest businesses looking to provide a useful online racing service to sim racers do not continuously ask for your credit card information and proclaim there is some sort of premium membership experience awaiting behind a paywall that asked sim racers to fork out around $42 USD per month for the highest level of commitment, when the entire endeavor consists of shoddy Google Documents that can be accessed regardless of whether you’ve paid the company money, and empty servers registered on LiveRacers that show staff members tasked with testing the service had failed to turn even a single practice lap.

Yet despite their insistence that the SRTC service was a real, genuine effort to compose some sort of valid alternative to iRacing – the enormous prizes helping to offset the ridiculous entry fees – it appears our expository piece warranted some kind of action after the dust had settled.

SRTC have scrubbed the internet of their dubious One Million Cash Prizes service, with leaderboards linked in the original piece now issuing a classic 404 Error, custom mods they’d released on Steam to ensure a fair playing field no longer available, and the home page now re-directing to a generic splash page. Devoid of any references to the structured online racing service that was once advertised, we’re now told there’s going to be some sort of SRTC community meet-up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and that an online championship called the SRTC Pro Series will receive an accompanying website on June 17th, 2017.

Just like that, their entire endeavor has vanished into thin air.

But the internet doesn’t forget, and it has only made me dig even deeper.

The league’s Twitch account has just one follower and no recent activity, while their Facebook page is ripe with links to sub-leagues, such as SRT Poland and SRT UK, but these too lack natural activity you would typically see from an online league – most posts by the administrator have zero likes and zero comments. Furthermore, once advertised as the primary broadcast partner of SRTC, BenjxMotors have not covered an SRTC event since January of 2017. Though I’m not disputing the existence of Sim Racing Track – which appears to be a simulator cafe powered by rFactor 2 located just outside of Paris – I’m under the impression that something seriously fucked up happened to this whole creation between the time we first reported on SRTC, and, well, today.

Now you may be wondering why a random sim league suddenly closing up shop and killing their website is a big deal, as several grassroots leagues rise and fall with each passing month within the sim racing community; it’s really nothing new by any stretch of the imagination, just how our ecosystem tends to work. However, the shocker here is that a French sim racing blog was able to interview Oliver Floyd in person, and he has revealed some kind of a partnership between SRTC and Studio 397, which means this could have potentially been rFactor 2’s actual planned solution to organized, competitive online racing that they discussed a few months back – which would make Studio 397 look extremely retarded if they were at one point indeed willing to go along with this level of delusion exhibited by the SRTC camp.

Either that, or Floyd is about to get sued for implying SRTC and Studio 397 are linked professionally when they’re clearly not.

Extending through several different interviews that all reiterate the same basic rhetoric, six and seven figure cash prizes are liberally thrown around in the same paragraphs as the label of “professional sim racers” is; SRTC having their heads firmly in the clouds regarding their vision of a world-wide sim racing championship using rFactor 2. Preliminary marketing documents have also surfaced, discussing some sort of major television partnership, custom driver suits, and the chance to “drive our race cars”, turning SRTC’s pie-in-the-sky plans into the stuff of legends. You can read the two documents – one for team owners, another for drivers – in the following links:

http://simracingtrack.com/images/Boost-your-career-racing-driver
http://simracingtrack.com/images/Team-PRO-EN

It’s beyond confusing, though it makes perfect sense that this stuff suddenly went *poof* one day and disappeared; there’s no way a small outlet such as SRTC would be able to ensure all of this would materialize in the intended fashion.

So instead, they’ve upped the ante, because this is sim racing after all.

Within the past month, SRTC have signed some sort of partnership with the Trans-Am Euro Series, what looks to be the European counterpart to the highly popular SCCA Trans-Am Championship that has thrived in North America over the past fifty years under a variety of different rule changes. Alongside their SRTC Pro Series – an online championship we still don’t know much about and hasn’t been broadcasted since January, a pathetic race that included just eight cars on the grid – SRTC will also offer an accompanying virtual Trans-Am series, the winner of which will supposedly win an entire fully-funded season in the 2018 campaign, with podium finishers receiving track day driving experiences, and VIP guest passes to select race weekends.

This is alongside the aforementioned SRTC Pro Series, which will suposedly be broadcasted on Motorsport.TV and consist of several Top Gear-like segments that are so absurdly beyond what a little sim racing league is capable of, I’m genuinely shocked this hasn’t been reported on any sooner.

First, they’re promising a $1,000,000 sim racing championship (or $400,000 depending on the interview you read), yet their entire online racing platform was governed by Google Documents that could be accessed regardless of whether you were a member or not. Second, they promised a chain of sim racing tournaments in exotic locales, and this huge structured online racing community supposedly supported by Studio 397 themselves, but one day the entire thing is taken down without warning – extremely bizarre considering they were openly asking for sponsorship and affiliates with an equally perplexing and vague affiliate program, which you can still apply for as of this writing. All of this by itself is highly questionable on its own.

But now they are back, unable to launch a simple online racing service without coming across as an outright scam and having to trash the thing overnight, but in the same breath planning to launch some sort of television show with segments that will rival the production cost of Top Gear, as well as conduct two major world-wide sim racing championships, one of which will award the winner with a full time ride in the 2018 Trans-Am Euro series. If you can’t figure out why this sounds ridiculously fishy, may I suggest an Internet Safety course for seniors?

Older gentlemen plagued by wishful thinking and highly unrealistic pipe dreams are a cancer to our hobby. If you gave money to these people for any reason whatsoever, I advise you to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. I would love to be proven wrong and have a sweet rFactor 2 Trans-Am league to participate in, but given their already sketchy track record, I expect that too, to vanish into thin air.