Sim Racing Design and the strange community surrounding NASCAR 2003

Online communities fight. This has been a thing since Geocities was introduced in the mid 1990’s. People get mad at each other on the internet and do dumb shit. Sometimes they send the SWAT Team after Call of Duty rivals, and other times they simply for . You’d think that when virtual race cars are involved, this kind of absurd drama dies down since everyone’s united by a common bond.

It doesn’t. It gets worse.

NASCAR Racing 2003 season, released for the PC in February of 2003 by Papyrus Motorsports, is widely regarded as the best NASCAR video game ever made. Not only does the game accurately portray what it’s like to drive an American Stock Car from the comfort of your own home (and has been used by several drivers to train for upcoming races), the game easily allowed for other people to freely make and distribute their own cars and tracks to extend the lifespan of the game.

While the game ships with only content from the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season, a large add-on community spawned from the success of the game. Over the past eleven years, almost every major and minor NASCAR series and season dating back to 1963 has been faithfully reproduced for the game by the community – all free of charge and readily available for you to download and insert into your own game. I must stress that you did not have to pay for these “mods”; they were all made by people who simply loved the game and were meant to be freely distributed on a multitude of sites, usually competing amongst each other for notoriety among the community – a constant battle to see who could make the best tracks/cars/mods to the community’s benefit.

NR2003 2014-03-28 20-00-22-36Because of the game’s extended lifespan, a good 60% of content made for NASCAR Racing 2003 Season (NR2003) has been lost due to broken links and closed websites. Fortunately, I have been playing this game since launch, and have saved almost everything noteworthy that the community (which spans a multitude of sites, countries, and multiplayer racing leagues) has released for the game.

As the game is eleven years old and only has a mere handful of people still playing it and producing content for the game, it is very hard for newcomers to not only find this game in the first place (copies go for several hundred dollars on eBay), but also find these elusive add-on’s that extend the lifespan of the game that add either current or historic NASCAR and other oval racing series to the game.

NR2003 2014-03-22 23-33-34-24In the spring of 2014, I felt nice enough to package all of the freeware third-party mods I’d collected for the game over the past ten years, and uploaded them on my own personal Mediafire account. Finding even a fraction of what I included in my personal collection would take weeks, sometimes months of browsing through the few remaining NR2003 add-on sites; uploading my collection would allow people to simply find everything they could ever want for the game in one place. I also took things a step further and created another Tumblr page to have all of these downloads in a place that was easy to navigate and understand. I shared it amongst a few friends and they were all pretty thankful to have such a huge collection of hard-to-find content in one place.

NR2003 2014-04-20 14-40-46-92Nothing about what I did was illegal – again, these were freeware pieces of content for a game that’s nearly a decade old, made by the community as far back as 2003. It’s like if someone packaged up 200 of the best Quake 3 maps, or 100 of the best Doom WAD’s. It’s just someone being a bro and uploading a massive collection of historical community-made content for a game that almost nobody plays anymore. You know, just to be a bro.

I posted the link to the Tumblr site on a website called SimRacingDesign – what appeared to be the most active of the few remaining NR2003 fansites. Guys who would probably be really happy to see mods that were uploaded and lost ten years ago were actually being preserved by some dude in Canada.

They were furious.

NR2003 2014-04-02 18-25-27-64

Members at SimRacingDesign claimed that every single car and track made by the community for NR2003 over the past eleven years is copyright to the person who created it, and that by merely uploading this package of historical content, I was violating several copyright laws and could be sued or put in jail. The thread exploded. I was instantly cast as this evil villain, and I hadn’t even been on the site for more than an hour.

Let me break it down for you – these people were more or less stealing real world copyrighted logos and designs off the internet to slap onto their pretend race cars, uploading them on their preferred site, and then claiming their cars were pieces of “art” and they owned them outright, and it was illegal to upload it anywhere else.

Try making a Porsche mod for an ISI sim and tell me what happens. These scrubs didn’t own shit – the original creator of the IP’s, however, does.

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That’s not how that works at all. And it’s not illegal to download a free file from one place, and upload it somewhere else. That’s called mirroring.

They did not care. This was a travesty. I was a horrible person. And they kept calling me “Todd.”

Who’s Todd?

Shortly after, I began receiving weird shit by the truckload in my Tumblr inbox.


This literally went on for two weeks straight.

But then other shit started happening. I started receiving emails from Tumblr administration that the account I’d set up for the NASCAR content was under DMCA investigation. I didn’t actually have anything on there that violated DMCA agreements. Like I said, it was all just mods for a game I’d saved over the years. Like if a guy packaged up all his Skyrim mods, because as you know, hunting for that shit takes forever.

Eventually, the entire Tumblr page was shut down. Again, I was not given a reason for this, Tumblr seemed quite fine with acting before asking questions. So I moved everything to Wix, and made what was basically the same site. The actual links to the mod packages on my Mediafire page were untouched, so I spent a couple hours setting everything back up. Within 48 hours, that page too was under DMCA investigation. And like that, it was gone. Apparently these huge sites are so scared of DMCA complaints that they shut your site down at the click of a button, regardless of how valid the complaint was.

nr2003 2014-07-24 18-50-59-35At SRD, the shitstorm continued to brew. The same people who were so adamantly against the sites I’d set up were now organizing to do the exact same thing. A proper NR2003 “encyclopedia.” Somehow, my idea was good, but I supposedly went about it the wrong way. Users from a thread I frequent on 4Chan signed up on SRD to polietly inform other members that what I was doing had nothing to do with DMCA or copyright infringement. The longtime SRD members reacted so drastically that they banned all members who had signed up in the past 48 hours, as well as disabled the creation of any new accounts for the forseeable future.

I was again also accused of being a guy named Todd, who was supposedly the biggest asshole NR2003 had ever seen. Todd, who went under the username “sb70”, was apparently some crazy schizophrenic out to destroy what was left of the NR2003 community.

This alleged schizophrenic asshole reached out to me, and holy shit I was not prepared for what I walked into.

cEgtkB1There’s an 86-page thread on dedicated to talking shit about this Todd guy, although now it appears to have been trimmed down to just 43. And it was full of posts like this:

And this…
 With the help of a real life female friend who encouraged him to continue his hobby away from the message board drama, Todd left SRD to create his own website, This caused problems. SRD user “bowtie214” has created a web page devoted to cyberstalking Todd’s friend, a single female clear across the country that he has never met before (also 30 years younger for that matter) – and all over drama related to a racing video game.

bowtie214 became privy to her personal information after his online friend (Danny Coral of BigDogOnline) served a fraudulent DMCA complaint to the domain host of Todd’s site. All in hopes of not only censoring Todd’s stuff, but also to acquire any personal information of his in hopes of cyberstalking/harrassing him out of template making.


That DMCA would be the 4th or 5th in a series bowtie214’s buddy had served in attempt to suppress Todd’s work on various sites aside from just his own (such as Todd’s friend set up the quick-model domain during the summer of 2013 as encouragement for him to keep contributing to this hobby. All of the work on the site and anything you can download from there might be by Todd, but if not for his friend, none of it would have remained online. Of course neither of them imagined at the time this site was launched that his female friend would become the victim of committed cross-country cyberstalking by the likes of a 67 yr old loser who has:

  • snooped and stalked her social media.
  • posted images on his ‘muzak’ page of which restaurants and public places she frequents.
  • posted images on his ‘muzak’ page of which restaurants and public places she frequents.
  • posted images of her home residence from Google maps on his ‘muzak’ page after acquiring that information courtesy of pal Danny’s lame-ass DMCA

These images can be found on bowtie214’s stalking page:
 Mere hours after the creation of the original source of this info, SRD member “RacerXero84” had taken to the online message board Reddit to defend the community’s decision to file false DMCA complaints on both myself and Todd, continuing to claim that uploading freeware mods for a video game is piracy, copyright infringement, and a whole host of other things that aren’t actually true.
RacerXero84 also took things a step further, claiming that he had filed a DMCA and Copyright complaint against yet ANOTHER site I frequent – a wiki page for a racing game thread I routinely shitpost in on 4Chan, justifying this by spouting legal gibberish – which you can read here:

In short, he is accusing myself and Todd, a guy I hardly know, of doing exactly what SRD have been doing to Todd for almost four years, and that hosting other people’s freeware mods for a decade old game is violating copyright somehow.

RacerXero84 also claimed he was not stalking Todd. Todd was able to dimiss this with proof of RacerXero84 trying to sign up for Todd’s personal site, RX84 simply denied everything.

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The continuing craziness, almost a year old at this point, can still be seen flaring up on Reddit, as well as a new thread on where the same four or five guys sit around spouting the same weird shit about some guy who made a few nice templates for an old oval racing sim.

This is what’s left of the NASCAR Racing 2003 community.

ayyI don’t recommend even bothering to try and have a sensible conversation with these guys. It doesn’t go anywhere:
SRDIf mysteriously goes offline, it’s because of another false DMCA complaint. These are the guys responsible.

Reader Submission #14 – Aussie Comes Through in the Clutch

Today’s Reader Submission comes from Sam S. He claims that has significantly increased their shilling of Project CARS by censoring talk of other racing sims, most notably Rezia Studio’s Game Stock Car Extreme and the crowdfunding campaign that was recently announced.

We’ve heard rumors that VirtualR were really going hard in the paint when it came to promoting pCars through pseudo-news, and a few comments on here described an abnormally long period between the news about Reiza’s crowdfunding campaign breaking versus the abnormally long period of time it’s taken for the news to show up on VirtualR- in fact it hasn’t.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt and hadn’t reported on it because A) we can’t exactly prove that someone’s refusing to publish news and B) the guy’s probably just taking a break from the site – I do it too sometimes.

Well, I guess we have proof now.

Good day,

Can you please check if I’m just being a naive internet user or not? I’ve posted two comments on VirtualR about the GSC Extreme campaign, or the lack of it on the front page news, but both times my posts were detected as spam. I’ve added a pic of my disqus profile to show you what I mean. I can see that the first one could be spam because of the web link, but not the older one.


I just find it hard to believe that a sim news site like that wouldn’t have this sort of obvious news on there let to be begin with. I know there is pCars money involved but surely they would show this?

The best way to promote a niche video game genre is to sell out your news site to a controversial developer and only talk about a highly buggy game that a ton of people aren’t satisfied with. We have two censored words here, and both of them are to keep the personal attacks from getting out of hand.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-27 20-55-15-47

Would a “Sim Media Showdown” Work?

Most readers know about the International Race of Champions, a small invite-only racing series designed to take the best drivers from around the world, put them in identical cars, and hopefully get a really stellar on-track product that could evolve into something much bigger. Of course, that never happened. The series failed to gain any real notoriety, was heavily biased towards NASCAR during the final decade of its existence, and folded in 2006.

PWF_IROC_ZmodAs someone who both writes about driving games, and spends an equal amount of time playing them online, one thing I’ve noticed is that all online racing leagues, regardless of the sim used or caliber of drivers being featured, barely get any views during broadcasted events. I remember a couple years ago I showed up for a few broadcasted 16th Street IndyCar Series events on iRacing, and upon wrecking out early, only saw eleven people viewing the stream – including myself. The Stock Car Extreme races that RaceDepartment held in may attracted just under fifty people. The full race replay of their first ever Assetto Corsa event, uploaded three weeks ago, only has 1,900 views on YouTube. The numbers don’t lie – people almost don’t care about watching pretend auto races.

On the flipside, guys like and have their own YouTube channels, where they simply talk about driving games. One of Gangi’s newest videos, where he basically tries out a new toy steering wheel, . The comments section of a Project CARS article on VirtualR has over 800 comments. Alan from Team VVV uploads of a preview build of F1 2015? . Matt Orr will literally just sign up for random races on iRacing and – and this generates a much better reception than a group of individuals trying to properly broadcast a league race.

1The general sim racing population appears to prefer a good personality rather than fantastic coverage of an online league. So what would happen if you threw every major personality into a league?

There’s enough of them to fill out an IROC-like field:

  • Matt Orr (Empty Box)
  • Darin Gangi (Inside Sim Racing)
  • Shaun Cole (The SimPit)
  • William Marsh (Sim Racing Paddock)
  • Bram Hengeveld (RaceDepartment)
  • Rob Prange (VirtualR)
  • Austin Ogonoski (PretendRaceCars)
  • Alan Boiston (Team VVV)

Throw ’em all into Lotus 49’s in Assetto Corsa and send them to the Nordschleife or a couple of the historic tracks. Start advertising for the mini-series a couple weeks in advance. Get ’em all to film a preview video for their channel or write an article for their site anticipating the series. Schedule the races in a friendly time where everyone can watch live.

I’m down.


Why Haven’t I Been On DiRT Rally Lately? The Answer is Simple…

Some of you may have noticed that the DiRT Rally League hasn’t been updated in quite a while. In fact, the tab at the top linking to information about the league has also mysteriously gone missing.

This is why:1435446038343

Steam says I’ve put 43 hours into DiRT Rally. That’s more than enough time to drive all seven stages to the point of exhaustion. Codemasters have done the classic Ridge Racer trick and chopped up each large stage into several smaller portions, giving the illusion of variety when in fact there is next to none.

While Codemasters have given routine updates on the development of the title and promised a steady stream of content throughout the Early Access period, aside from a Force Feedback update that seemed to receive unanimous praise and a Pikes Peak add-on that was basically three cars and one track, people like myself haven’t touched the game in a while.

Maybe a Free Weekend Wasn’t the Best Idea…

RRRE 2015-06-27 13-07-13-56In theory, Sector 3’s concept of opening up everything RaceRoom Racing Experience has to offer for one weekend in June was a flawless idea. The game is loved by the handful of drivers who choose to call it their main sim, but the absurd pricing model turns off all but the most diehard of racing sim enthusiasts. Managing to achieve a relatively niche following, with new users trickling into the game primarily through word of mouth, the Free Weekend promotion opened the floodgates to a huge wave of new users.

On most days when I come home from work, R3E is a ghost town online. It doesn’t help that I’m in Canada and the majority of R3E drivers are across the pond in Europe, but this picture accurately demonstrates the limited options I’m presented with when I feel like racing online. The size of the online userbase definitely increases during Euro-centric hours, but never to a size where rooms can be considered populated. There’s basically one room with a bunch of people, and a handful of rooms with one or two drivers.

Obviously, with all content in the free-to-play racing sim being temporarily unlocked, online activity saw a noticeable increase.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-01-28-27I personally really enjoy R3E, so at first I was stoked. Even some of the game’s older content that we’ve been advised to stay away from, such as the GTR X cars, were getting some love thanks to the game’s really simple dedicated server application.

However, making the game totally free for a few days doesn’t just open up the racing sim to experienced drivers curious about a title that rivals their personal sim of choice – it also unleashes waves of noobs that as of this writing, have made most servers insufferable.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-10-41-92

There’s no way to describe it other than pure chaos. Most people couldn’t keep their cars on the track for more than a lap or two. Every wallpaper-worthy screenshot I took had someone gloriously shitting the bed in the background.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-13-03-36So I just stopped taking pretty pictures altogether and focused on the wrecks.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-04-10-90Despite the huge grids, very few people in practice or qualifying were competent enough to complete a lap. Those that did were woefully off pace, despite the consensus away from about R3E’s allegedly dumbed down physics. In both a GTR X room, and a mixed class P2/GT3 room, multiple people spun off the starting grid. This, in a game where you can shift into first before the lights go out and it feels like there’s a built-in launch control.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-04-56-84It’s a frustrating experience, as time and time again I’d spend a decent amount of time running laps in practice, only to see that 90% of the grid probably shouldn’t have been there. I took the Group 5 Skyline to both Mid-Ohio and Hockenheim, and each lap would pass numerous cars parked on the side of the track. Had there been a 107% cutoff rule in qualifying, 5 of the 24 cars in the room would have been allowed to race. It was really disappointing. There was no point entering a Group 5 room as nobody could deal with the 1970’s turbo lag.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-07-40-34We didn’t even make it to the problematic braking zone in Macau, as a track-blocking wreck occurred mere seconds into what was supposed to be a fifteen minute race.RRRE 2015-06-27 10-08-48-00Nothing compares to turn one of the famed Nurburgring. Starting 23rd out of the 24 car field (I joined the server with a minute left in qualifying), I was really excited to see how multi-class racing would work in R3E. I didn’t even make it through the first sector; a huge pack of cars washed out, and then proceeded to simultaneously spin back onto the track. This track has been in numerous high profile racing games for almost a decade, and people still haven’t figured it out.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-05-35-08Again, what could have been a fun 20 minute race was ended before it really even began. Must have been absolutely demoralizing for the people who had taken the time to run proper practice and qualifying laps.

RRRE 2015-06-27 10-06-10-66What makes this clusterfuck even more disappointing is that the netcode is really fucking good, and there aren’t any noticeable performance issues, even with a full field. This one can solely be blamed on bad drivers. I look forward to reading other people’s opinions of R3E in the coming days, because the abundance of new users and bored kids who downloaded the game out of curiosity means you sometimes can’t get 800 feet into a race regardless of what car/track combo the server is running. All of these inevitable my experience with R3E threads that’ll pop up will be based off of guys trying and failing to survive 30 seconds of carnage.