The PRC V8 Supercars World Tour Is No More

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What began as an attempt to put aside the cynical atmosphere of PRC.net and focus on what matters most about our hobby – the racing – will come to a premature end after this upcoming Saturday’s event at Road Atlanta. With participation dropping to an embarrassingly low level, the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour on Race2Play will cease operations after only five of the scheduled twelve events. The decision was made after only six cars had registered for this weekend’s race at a popular American road course, and the last round of the series at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park drew only nine participants.

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Am I frustrated at the chain of events that lead to this decision? Not entirely. At the conclusion of last summer, we ran an article showcasing the dramatic drop in the popularity of the SuperV8 Holden Commodore for Stock Car Extreme. This was perplexing, as the Commodore was one of the few pieces of content sim racers were given following the end of Reiza’s IndieGoGo campaign. While the 2005 Formula One car and Stadium Super Truck were held back for the Q1 2016 release of Automobilista, the SuperV8 was actively promoted by YouTube personalities and Reiza themselves; a piece of content that sim racers could immediately download into their game and say “I contributed to help bring this to life.”

It was strange to see people get so excited for this car prior to release, only to entirely forget about it when the masses got their hands on the finished version. And not only did people throw varying amounts of money at the Reiza crowdfunding campaign to drive this car a few weeks earlier than the average sim racer, the OZV8 campaign gathered an additional $2,000 from sim racers who were desperate for a modern V8 Supercar mod within Reiza’s Stock Car Extreme. That’s right, some people paid twice for this car. With that kind of rabid fanbase, a free online league with these beasts would be a no-brainer, right?

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So sometime after all this went down, we discovered Race2Play, a fantastic online racing service similar to iRacing, but for racing sims that aren’t iRacing. For the tiny fee of $9 CDN, we launched a free league for the SuperV8 Holden Commodore, using the most popular tracks sanctioned by the website. Reiza built an absolutely phenomenal car – a car some people paid for twice – and the best way to bring a fraction of the 250,000 unique readers of PRC.net together was to start a free league with said car.

We walked people through how to sign up for Race2Play, even going the extra mile to assure them they wouldn’t need to fork over any money to sign up for a premium account despite the site’s numerous requests. We gave out a handful of race-proven setups so people weren’t tripping over themselves in the garage area. We didn’t force people to spend a few hours painting liveries. We even assured people we had no say in how the races were moderated, guaranteeing there would be no admin bias that many popular leagues are prone to.

Things looked extremely optimistic before the season even began, and to this date, we have 97 people signed up for the league. Clicking around through the various profiles, the majority of drivers signed up to Race2Play specifically for this league.

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But then something funny happened: Nobody showed up. Of the 97 league members registered for the V8 Supercars World Tour – a larger entry list than even RaceDepartment’s SuperV8 league – only 28 managed to make it out to an event. And of those 28 drivers, only two ran all four races up to this point. Those numbers are absolutely horrible.

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Now what’s even more puzzling, is that the league itself was actually really good. There were no first corner incidents where half the field was wiped out – a big deal for any online league, including races that take place on iRacing. There was no drama between drivers spilling over into post-race chat due to accusations of intentional wrecking or shitty driving. In four events, there were three different winners, and a nice points battle was beginning to take place among the faster drivers. And despite the numerous trolls residing in our comments section on a daily basis, nobody took this trolling to the next level and signed up for a race to intentionally drive backwards on the track. Basically, the headaches that usually come with any sort of online league, weren’t there. Hell, we had a finish between two mid-pack drivers come down to five thousandths of a second.

Unfortunately, continuing to run a league where only six drivers register to participate for an upcoming event is not worth anybody’s time or effort. The race this weekend at Road Atlanta will conclude the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour prior to the halfway point in the calendar. It appears sim racers would rather throw money at crowdfunding campaigns and make “feel-good posts” about donating to said crowdfunding campaigns, than actually play the content they paid to help bring to life.

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Is the V8 Supercars World Tour Already in Trouble?

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Kicking off shortly before Christmas Holidays, the PRC.net V8 Supercars World Tour was intended to bring the readers of PRC.net together on Saturday afternoons to drive a car some loved so much, they paid extra for it, twice. After a summer-long crowdfunding campaign saw the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar become the poster child of Reiza Studios’ future projects, the obvious next step was to create a platform for people to race this thing competitively. As many pointed out to us, pickup racing simply no longer exists in this genre, because the majority of sim racers prefer organized league racing.

So, we created a league. There would be no entry fee. There would be no need to sit down and paint yourself a car. There would be minimal downloading of third party mods. It would take place on a website where detailed statistics and moderation would be taken care of by someone other than us, to ensure we weren’t simply banning people we didn’t like. The fast guys would be encouraged to share setups publicly, so new drivers could get a handle on these cars with a competitive setup right out of the box. There was virtually no effort required to sign up and race. In fact, our guide to getting started on Race2Play was so slick, one guy actually criticized us for discouraging people from spending money on the site, just because we knew people would see Premium Membership and get scared at what that meant.

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For the first event at Suzuka, we had 35 entrants, more than the maximum amount of cars Race2Play allows on the grid to ensure server stablilty. Yet when it came time for the event to begin, only fifteen drivers showed up. We chalked this up to a very real mismatch error that prevented a large portion of drivers from joining the server. The next week at Kyalami, again we dealt with a mismatch error, and again we were only able to pull in fifteen drivers. Yet both races played out exceptionally well. No intentional wrecking, great battles all throughout the field, and everyone who showed up agreed it was worth the 90 minutes they set aside for Stock Car Extreme that weekend.

However, today at Barbagallo, we only managed to bring in nine drivers.

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It’s obviously a confusing scenario, especially as the series is set to begin a month-long trek through prestigious North American circuits. With Mosport, Road Atlanta, Road America, and Portland composing the next chunk of the schedule, the series is instead seeing a gradual reduction of participants. In fact, out of the twenty five drivers who have started a race in the PRC.net V8 Supercars World Tour, only four of them have attempted all three races.

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To throw an even bigger curve ball into the mix, according to our League webpage on Race2Play, 94 drivers have seen our site advertise this league and said “yep, I’m in.” However, only 26% of them have bothered to come out for a race.

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I’m puzzled. When this car first dropped on the masses, a flurry of YouTube videos and comments advertised this car as the definitive version of a Holden Commodore touring car.

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The league isn’t going to be cancelled or shortened to accommodate the much smaller than expected grid size, but it is definitely frustrating to see the hypocrisy of the sim racing community at play once again. Everyone has no problem throwing copious amounts of money at a crowdfunding campaign just for one car that EmptyBox makes a video about, but when it comes time to actually race the damn thing, less than ten people show up, and only five or so can last the entire hour without stuffing it into the wall.

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Sadly, we are not the first series to struggle with participation numbers, as Andy Graydon’s Showcase Sim Series was forced to cancel their V8 Supercars season after just one event, citing multiple factors contributing to the low turnout.

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Am I missing something? Is it suddenly trendy within the sim community to brag about how much money you’ve donated to a company, and then not actually play the game?

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Pre-Race Patch Cuts the Field in Half at Kansai East

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While some predicted the opening round of the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour would be a disaster due to the short layout of Suzuka not being an ideal venue for Australian Touring Cars, the only hiccup during the entire event was caused by Reiza Studios themselves. Releasing Version 1.52 of Stock Car Extreme only a few short hours before Qualifying began, entrants scrambled to update the title – promptly running into a crippling road block.

The Steam version of the title appeared to update with no noticeable problems, however owners of the Stand-Alone version were unable to acquire all updated files through the GSC Sync application Reiza provides to manually download updates. Of the 28 drivers guaranteed entry into the first round of the twelve-race championship, narrowed down from 35 total entrants, 11 were unable to join the server due to file mismatches.

Because of this technical issue that was completely out of our control, only 17 drivers were able to start the season at Kansai. Thankfully, the rest of the session went off without a hitch. American sim racer Wilbur Walsh set the Holden Commodore track record at Kansai East with a blistering qualifying time of 49.4 seconds, though he retired from the race while leading with 25 minutes to go. Prior to disconnecting from the server, Walsh was seen in the sand trap that splits the East circuit from the full Japanese Grand Prix layout.

The full race recap can be read on the official results page over at Race2Play, who have graciously helped us set this whole Championship up for our readers, as well as anybody else who’d like to race with us.

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Tire wear played an integral role in the race today, as my testing laps on Friday night made me believe I could run two sets of soft compound tires without any notable issues aside from natural tire wear. During the race itself, the tires wore out five laps earlier than in the race stint I’d practiced on Friday night, and I was forced to switch to the hard compound during our lone pit stop. I had not run a single lap on hard compound tires all week, and Fahn Thomas knocked over 12 seconds off the gap between us as I struggled to adjust to the new tire compound. I was able to preserve the lead enough to take home the victory.

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The racing was extremely clean, and there were no major incidents to report. This is a fantastic outcome, as the East layout of Suzuka was deemed to small and claustrophobic for massive rear-wheel-drive touring cars. The shot above displays just how clean the start of the race was, though I imagine it would be a bit of a different story had all 28 cars been able to attend. Likewise, even the backmarkers were courteous towards the leaders and did not interfere in the outcome of the race. Despite the technical hiccup with GSC Sync and the Version 1.52, you couldn’t ask for a better start to the season once the lights went out.

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All are welcome to join us for our next round at Kyalami on December 26th, as all that is needed is a basic account on Race2Play.

One Week Away from the PRC.net V8 Supercars World Tour

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Seven days from now, we here at PRC.net will move into uncharted territory and begin our twelve week V8 Supercars World Tour online racing championship over at Race2Play.com. With 28 drivers signed up for the first event as of this writing, we are already one of the biggest online championships available to enter on Race2Play, and we haven’t even run our first race yet!

To ensure next Saturday goes as smoothly as possible, there are just a few things I’d like to cover to ensure everybody is on the same page. I don’t want to answer the same question a billion different times, and as most people signed up for the league visit PRC.net on a daily basis, consider this an all-encompassing drivers meeting.

  1. Not only do you have to sign up for the league itself, you also have to sign up for each individual race. This is how Race2Play determines who to send the race day server password to, and if you aren’t signed up for that day’s event, you won’t get the password.
  2. You need to enter races with the same Stock Car Extreme profile name as the name you use on Race2Play. Yes, this bothers me as well; I enjoy showing up in public lobbies under the pseudonym as Emma Sulkowicz, but their website, their rules.
  3. You can join the league at any time, and run as many or as little races as you’d like. There is no deadline for entries; Race2Play operates very much like iRacing. If you’re just showing up here thinking “oh shit, a V8 Supercars league? I need to get in on that!” – You haven’t missed anything. Click the Join League button at the top left, and click the Join Event button on the upcoming event. In this case, it’s Kansai East. Next week, it’ll be Johannesburg Historic.
  4. Joining Race2Play is free. Joining our league is free. Racing is free. Race2Play offers several different tiers of memberships for those who are a bit more dedicated to sim racing and want extra site functionality, but the premium memberships are totally optional. A free account still lets you race with us and tracks your statistics, the additional premium perks simply unlock optional site functionalities such as additional screenshot slots and scouting reports.
  5. A third party not connected to PRC.net is in charge of officiating. Those who have had previous league experiences where admin bias has warranted unreasonable penalties to innocent drivers have nothing to worry about. Race2Play have their own set of stewards in charge of punishing users for reported on-track incidents.
  6. Qualifying will start at the time listed on the website. Race2Play overlords require us to vote to advance the server into Qualifying at the scheduled start time; do yourself a favor and practice throughout the week, and be sure to enter the server at least 20 – 25 minutes prior to the show kicking off in order to ensure your equipment is working correctly. We aren’t waiting for anybody.

I think that’s everything. The 2014 Holden Commodore is a handful, but if everyone puts in that little bit of effort needed to hold a quality online race, this’ll be an event everyone talks about for a very long time.

 

The PRC V8 Supercars World Tour – This is it!

Schedule

In just a few short hours we had a whopping 33 people fill out the preseason survey posted earlier today, meaning there’s no point in holding off the announcement for a few days. The sheer level of interest means the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour will commence on December 19th at Suzuka in Reiza Studio’s Stock Car Extreme. The Saturday afternoon events will be open to everyone, free of charge, only requiring you to sign up for a basic Race2Play membership in order to track your statistics and be counted as an official member of the league. Oh, and that’s free, too, in case you’re worried this is going to turn into some iRacing-style shenanigans. No longer is the excellent 2014 Australian Touring Car spec Holden Commodore relegated to the depths of your Stock Car Extreme install.

Questions will inevitably arise over the inconsistent start times. Race2Play doesn’t allow you to set a consistent start time if it’s at a popular timeslot, the same way iRacing staggers the start times of their various oval and road course series throughout the hierarchy. As we’re a new league and don’t have the privilege of locking ourselves into an ideal time slot, the start time will fluctuate over the course of the season. We’re extremely lucky to run this league on Saturday to begin with. Set your alarm on your phone and keep a close eye on the schedule. That’s just how they roll, and we did the best we could with the options available. When you sign up for the site, the start times will automatically be converted into your local timezone if you don’t trust yourself to write things down or memorize the various start time changes.

The three month schedule intended to carry us through a cold, miserable winter explores the best content Stock Car Extreme has to offer, as both first party Reiza tracks as well as Race2Play approved third party content receive a relatively equal amount of attention. As Australian Touring Cars respond well to high speeds, flowing corners, giant elevation changes, huge kerbs, and heavy braking zones, every track on the schedule is intended to promote the wheel-to-wheel insanity seen in the real life V8 Supercars series. We just happen to have a time machine and an unlimited travel budget.

Qualifying sessions will last a total of 15 minutes, and damage effects will are locked at 50% to allow for these cars to be driven in a way that replicates the aggression of touring car racing. The championship will be scored with the current FIA Formula One points format, awarding 25 points to the winner, 18 for a runner up position, and 15 for third place. This allows a good driver to miss a race or two, only to return and continue his rightful quest for the championship, as a much heavier emphasis is placed on finishing on the podium.

Joining the series takes less than two minutes, as signing up for an account on Race2Play is free, and joining the V8 Supercars World Tour itself is also free. Bring a friend or three. For those who would like a larger version of the image below, click here.

Instructions

Along with signing up for the league, you NEED to sign up for each individual event. This is how the website knows who to send the race day password to. If you are on a free account, do not fret if you can’t press the JOIN button, it will become available as the date of the first event nears.

Once you have joined both the league itself, and signed up for the races you plan on participating in, the only step left is to join the server on race day with the password provided on your profile dashboard a few hours prior (you’ll see it, you can’t miss it) and drive your ass off. As long as your Race2Play name is the same as your Stock Car Extreme profile name, behind-the-scenes server plugins will record your statistics and complete the iRacing-like experience for you. Race2Play is basically  iRacing for rFactor and other ISI powered sims.

As some events require the use of a third party track, the Event Page conveniently has download links to all files needed to participate in the race under the FILES USED tab. This ensures none of us will get fucked over by using the wrong version of a track, as Race2Play has already tested the tracks available on the schedule for compatibility. This is literally as painless as it gets.

Events Page

For the moment, we won’t be using custom liveries, nor will we have a Teamspeak server running to touch base with everybody before the event. Race2Play runs on a strict schedule, and the times listed above are when the qualifying session begins. Obviously, you’ll want to practice a bit throughout the week because these cars can be a handful, and join the server about 30 minutes early to check up on the competition. While it may seem a bit anal, the results of running with Race2Play are pretty awesome. Each of our races will have a dedicated post-race write up by R2P staff, and there will be as many detailed statistics and records kept as you see on iRacing. I mean, let’s be honest, this is pretty dope that they’re gonna do stuff like this for us:

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To get you started, this Baseline Setup won a Club Race over on RaceDepartment at Kyalami. I’ve run this setup in pretty much every public practice server on Stock Car Extreme since then, and I can’t find a track where it doesn’t work. If you’re somebody who has no idea what to do in the garage area, this will help immensely. This isn’t just some shitty baseline (even though we call it that), it’s a race winning setup against some pretty stout competition. For the first season, I want people to enjoy racing each other and forming rivalries, not pulling their hair out in the garage menu. These cars are tough and punishing enough as it is.

You WILL be required to pit at least once in each race, as a full tank of fuel doesn’t last the full hour. There is NO POINT to running hard compound tires, as taking the soft compound with a single pitstop is much faster over the course of an entire race. I learned this the hard way at Bathurst a few months ago when this car was first released. Also, do yourself a favor and map a button to Launch Control. When the lights are red on the starting grid, hold the button, mash the gas, and let off the button when the lights go out. The Speed Limiter button is your friend as well.

Need a quick way to increase FPS in online races? Turn shadows to medium and special effects to off. If you’ve got an ATI card like myself, check this post out on RaceDepartment to learn the optimal catalyst control center settings. It makes Stock Car Extreme look much better than a game on the gMotor engine ever should.

I think that covers just about everything, so now it’s time to introduce you to the twelve locations we’ll be visiting throughout the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-03-24-71Round 01 – Kansai East

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series ran two exhibition races here in the late 1990’s, once in 1996 and again in 1997 before moving to the Twin Ring Motegi oval in 1998. The East layout of Suzuka proved to be a natural fit for American Stock Cars, akin to a Japanese version of Sears Point. As the Holden Commodore can be a bit of a handful, we’ll begin our season with this very simple layout to ease people into the car.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-04-22-38Round 02 – Johannesburg Historic

Otherwise known as Kyalami, many sim racers had their first taste of this classic facility in the 1998 title Grand Prix Legends. The massive front stretch and heavy braking zone going into turn one is exactly the kind of insanity one would expect from V8 Supercars, and the rest of the track is a combination of long straights and high speed corners.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-13-31-12Round 03 – Barbagallo

A stop on the real life Australian V8 Supercars calendar, many sim racers will recognize this track from it’s heavy usage in the classic Codemasters title DTM Race Driver 3. One of the shortest tracks on our schedule, the track features ONE left handed corner, and relies primarily on momentum to execute a quick lap.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-24-03-58Round 04 – Bologna Historic

Known by most people as Imola, the 1994 layout of the San Marino Grand Prix was a welcome addition to Stock Car Extreme, and the Holden Commodore will eat the massive rumble strips lining each corner for breakfast. It’s a wild track in a massive saloon sedan, and given how much these cars can take compared to a light, nimble Grand Prix car, the track drives in a completely different manner.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-19-22-12Round 05 – Mosport

A track practically unchanged since it’s stop on the 1967 Grand Prix calendar, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park currently hosts a date on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series calendar. The wide, sweeping corners, heavy braking zones, and massive back straight make this an easy choice to be included on our virtual calendar.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-11-49-26Round 06 – Road Atlanta

A popular testing facility for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, as well as the host of many American Le Mans Series events over the years, Road Atlanta was one of many stops on the SCCA Trans-Am tour of the 1970’s. Featured in every game from Forza Motorsport to the Sega Dreamcast’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, there’s no reason not to make a stop here.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-09-05-11Round 07 – Road America

Currently hosting a summer date on the NASCAR Xfinity Series calendar, along with several Can-Am events in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Road America is Elkhart Lake Wisconsin’s pride and joy. Several heavy braking zones will wear down the equipment over the course of an hour, and the high speeds reached on three separate portions of the track will make things pretty hectic in the latter stages of the race.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-16-11-85Round 08 – Vanport

Otherwise known as Portland International Raceway, Oregon’s premiere racing facility once hosted both a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series date, as well as SCCA Trans-Am events well into the 21st century. Though the track has rarely appeared in hardcore racing sims, the facility made a surprise appearance in Need for Speed: Pro Street, as well as being a semi-official add-on track for NASCAR Racing 2003 Season by Project Wildfire. We’re running without the intrusive chicane on the massive front stretch because going fast is fun.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-06-40-90Round 09 – Ribeirao Preto 2012

I am a sadistic asshole. That is all. A yearly stop on the Stock Car Brasil calendar, this is Brazil’s version of Surfer’s Paradise. We must embrace pain, and burn it as fuel for our journey. Finishing this race will be an accomplishment in itself.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-07-54-61Round 10 – Spielberg Vintage

While the Red Bull Ring is a blast, the race-spec Holden Commodore responds much better to flowing corners, rolling hills, and massive stretches of open road. Prior to the modern renovation to keep in line with Formula One safety standards, the 1970’s layout of the Österreichring is a perfect fit for V8 Supercars. Thanks to the magic of Sim Racing, we can live in an era where Herman Tilke hasn’t ruined Formula One, and we’re going to take full advantage of that.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-22-06-53Round 11 – Bathurst

You knew this one was coming.

GSC 2015-12-04 21-21-16-88Round 12 – Laguna Seca

It’s wrong to decide the championship with the unpredictable and cruel nature of Mount Panorama, so we’re ending the season at a place virtually everybody knows, whether they like the track or not.

See y’all on the track. Bring some friends.