The Last Official IndyCar Game to Date Turns a Whopping 19 Years Old

IndyCar Series 2005 Cover IRL Dan Wheldon Pikes Peak.jpg
Yearly releases are not the norm in sim racing, with EA Sports' and Codemasters' F1 Series being a notable exception: Since 2009, Formula One has received a new official game each year - which is not something the IndyCar Series can claim for their championship. In fact, the last official game released to date, titled IndyCar Series 2005, has just turned an incredible 19 years old.

Image credit: Honda Newsroom (Michael L. Levitt, USA. LAT Photographic)/Codemasters

If there is a perfect example for the confusion and chaos of the split in American open-wheel racing, IndyCar Series 2005 might be a front runner for that title: Released in June 2004 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox (and in July 2004 for PC, but only in Europe), the game does not portray the 2005 season as it had not happened yet, of course. It also does not contain the 2004 season - rather confusingly, IndyCar Series 2005 focuses on the 2003 season.

Its predecessor, which was simply titled IndyCar Series, had been released a year earlier and featured the 2002 season, so a game focusing on the previous year's season was not out of the ordinary. Why Codemasters chose to name the successor after the 2005 season is puzzling, though.


Behind all the confusion about names was a dedicated IndyCar game that chose a somewhat realistic approach - it certainly was not an arcade racer, but rather as much of a simulation as the console generation of the time could handle. Car setups were crucial, so taking time to test and tweak them were prerequisites in order to be able compete. While driving skill was also an important factor, it could get players only so far if their setup held them back.

Pack Racing - Exciting, But Dangerous​

This was much like the real IRL at the time, which was still running an all-oval schedule and known for its pack racing - cars running two or even three wide for multiple laps was not uncommon, and while highly exciting, this was also inherently dangerous, as multiple enormous crashes showed. The 2003 season saw arguably one of the biggest wrecks of all time that a driver survived when 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Bräck ended up in the catchfence after tangling with Tomas Scheckter. Luckily, Bräck recovered to race again - and even looks back at the crash with a smile on his face.


Meanwhile, the other half of the former IndyCar World Series was still called CART in 2003, but would reform as Champ Car after going bankrupt. Featuring faster cars and more road courses, the series would eventually adopt a schedule consisting of road and street circuits only in 2007, its last season before merging with the IRL to re-unify American open-wheel racing.

Still Waiting for a New Game​

Since then, the series has been slowly clawing back some of its former popularity, and the difficult years in the 2000s likely are the main reason for the lack of official games. IndyCar content has appeared in multiple titles like iRacing, the Race Driver/GRID series or Forza Motorsport, but a full, modern IndyCar season has never been in another game or sim since.

The announcement of an official game in 2021 had fans of the series very excited as a result. Since then, Motorsport Games has postponed the title's launch from 2023 to 2024. The company also owns rFactor 2, which has added official IndyCar DLC in 2022. Many in the community question whether the game will ever see the light of day due to Motorsport Games' track record with NASCAR 21: Ignition and their financial situation. Meanwhile, an official WEC game is set for a late 2023 release and was already playable at the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Your Thoughts​

How much are you looking forward to a new IndyCar game, likely 20 years after the last one? Have you played IndyCar Series 2005? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

As explained in this article, Indycar sims were collateral victims of the war between the IRL and CART/Champ Car between 1996 and 2008. When both series were finally unified, open-wheel racing in the US was moribund and the market for an Indy sim was deemed nonexistent. Even today, TV ratings for Indycar are small, even with a TV contract with a major network. It's weird because the races attract good crowds, overall.

Indycar isn't very good at marketing. It feels like the people in charge of selling the series are guys in their mid-60's. It's a shame, because the racing is really great and the majority of races are exciting, certainly more interesting than F1.

As per the MSG sim, I don't think it will ever happen. Is there a team or a studio attached to the project? Is there any work done?

At least we have AMS2. On top of the Formula USA 2023 car, there's the fantastic Indycar mod.
 
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Even today, TV ratings for Indycar are small, even with a TV contract with a major network. It's weird because the races attract good crowds, overall.

Indycar isn't very good at marketing. It feels like the people in charge of selling the series are guys in their mid-60's. It's a shame, because the racing is really great and the majority of races are exciting, certainly more interesting than F1.
If you had to be a little cashier, you could argue that one of the ways reaching a larger audience could be by letting the license completely free of service to any simracing publisher/developer. Sim communities will seek the most autentic bid, if series is worried for non-reflecting modeling, apart from the brand copy itself.
But I know with state of things these modern days regarding very strict legal ties, this is not gonna happen.
 
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I will tell you that I still play the sensational IndyCar Racing 2 from Papyrus. I downloaded the 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 seasons, which are the years of the greatest popularity of the PPG Indycar World Series and no game can match this IndyCar title.
 
I will tell you that I still play the sensational IndyCar Racing 2 from Papyrus. I downloaded the 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 seasons, which are the years of the greatest popularity of the PPG Indycar World Series and no game can match this IndyCar title.
Sadfully lost my original - but time flies and think title might be regarded as abandonware now, or? Has been extremely tempted to restart my engines in IndyCar Racing 2 by watching plenty of Jake's/GPLaps prime content, raced with modern sim hardware :inlove:
 
I still hits me with a big time sad feeling whenever I see the name "Champcar"...

Such a great series and could of really been a world series if it had the right backing... The unification whilst good for US based sports was a sad time for me as I was unsure of F1s future at the time... Which with DRS coming not long after I was validated by my wants for another open wheel series to be out there... I had to wait until Formula E for that...

Indycar and WEC trusting MSGS even after the NASCAR game is just about the money they could make now and not their reputations long term... I have a strong feeling that both will be no better than the BTCC game... DLC for rF2...
 
Loved that game so much!! Back in the days of keyboard gaming, my left arrow was in hell hahahah

The only thing I remember is that race saved itselft in every pitstop. Don't know why.

Other game I loved also from that "era" was CART Precision Racing. Only played the demo of it, I think 2 tracks (Laguna Seca and the original Indy-like Homestead) and a few cars (4 if don't mistaken).
 
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I still hits me with a big time sad feeling whenever I see the name "Champcar"...

Such a great series and could of really been a world series if it had the right backing... The unification whilst good for US based sports was a sad time for me as I was unsure of F1s future at the time...
If you can, try to find a copy of the book "Indy Split":


It explains very clearly all the issues about the split. When you read about the history of open-wheel racing in the US, you realize that it's a miracle there's still an Indycar series at all... so many stupid moves, so many unchecked egos, etc. The only reason, I think, why Indycar still exists is the Indy 500. It's also why the IRL won, in the end, and absorbed Champcar.
 
If you had to be a little cashier, you could argue that one of the ways reaching a larger audience could be by letting the license completely free of service to any simracing publisher/developer. Sim communities will seek the most autentic bid, if series is worried for non-reflecting modeling, apart from the brand copy itself.
But I know with state of things these modern days regarding very strict legal ties, this is not gonna happen.
Indycar doesn't know how to "market" its drivers, unlike F1 and NASCAR, and that's a big reason why it is struggling in terms of TV ratings. How many Americans have heard of Josef Newgarden, an excellent American driver who just won the Indy 500? How many have heard of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Alex Palou, Pato O'ward, etc. For a while, the most famous Indycar driver was Helio Castro-Neves, but not because he won the Indy 500. It was because he won "Dancing with the stars"!!

Indy's problems started around the mid-90's, when young American drivers no longer wanted to race the Indy 500 and chose NASCAR instead. One of the reasons is that dirt racing with midget cars was no longer the path to Indianapolis like it was before. NASCAR welcomed dirt racers with open arms while Indy team owners rejected them.

Imagine Jeff Gordon, Tony Steward or Jimmie Johnson at the Indy 500...
 
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If you can, try to find a copy of the book "Indy Split":


It explains very clearly all the issues about the split. When you read about the history of open-wheel racing in the US, you realize that it's a miracle there's still an Indycar series at all... so many stupid moves, so many unchecked egos, etc. The only reason, I think, why Indycar still exists is the Indy 500. It's also why the IRL won, in the end, and absorbed Champcar.

I'll give it a look...

For me the focus on why open wheelers weren't working the states isn't why the merger should of happened... But even more of an illustration as why a regional series cannot compete with NASCAR... As there has always been problems with only the Indy 500 keeping open wheel racing alive in the states...

Sure Indycar doesn't market it's drivers well enough, but with NASCAR's popularity and share of the motorsports headlines in the states it's very hard for another regional Motorsport to gain ground... F1 has managed to in recent years thanks largely to international appeal and the involvement of the big name brands...

Champcar had the opportunity to find that middle ground and gain international exposure at the same time as popularity in the states... With A1 GP folding and many years until Formula E filled that gap in open wheelers, Champcar could of seen growth that Indycar just hasn't seen...

I did find the end of that article amusing where they state the Indycar is set for a exciting future under Roger Penske... From the outside looking in I can't really say anything has changed besides the mention of Penske being the owner of the sport...
 
Indycar doesn't know how to "market" its drivers, unlike F1 and NASCAR, and that's a big reason why it is struggling in terms of TV ratings. How many Americans have heard of Josef Newgarden, an excellent American driver who just won the Indy 500? How many have heard of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Alex Palou, Pato O'ward, etc. For a while, the most famous Indycar driver was Helio Castro-Neves, but not because he won the Indy 500. It was because he won "Dancing with the stars"!!

Indy's problems started around the mid-90's, when young American drivers no longer wanted to race the Indy 500 and chose NASCAR instead. One of the reasons is that dirt racing with midget cars was no longer the path to Indianapolis like it was before. NASCAR welcomed dirt racers with open arms while Indy team owners rejected them.

Imagine Jeff Gordon, Tony Steward or Jimmie Johnson at the Indy 500...
Ummm...
 
Premium
For me its a real shame Indycar doesn't get more coverage. The racing is exciting and unpredictable. The rules allow for more strategy and variation in the racing.

For example I feel push to pass is a much better overtaking aid than DRS and encourages drivers to think on the fly. Refuelling at pitstops widens the strategic options and also add another layer of interest to proceedings.

And the tracks punish mistakes - there are less car park style run off areas. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching it for many seasons now. It deserves its own video game. Sadly as others have said it doesn't have the pull that it had in the 1990's when Mansell did it.
 
Loved that game so much!! Back in the days of keyboard gaming, my left arrow was in hell hahahah

The only thing I remember is that race saved itselft in every pitstop. Don't know why.

Other game I loved also from that "era" was CART Precision Racing. Only played the demo of it, I think 2 tracks (Laguna Seca and the original Indy-like Homestead) and a few cars (4 if don't mistaken).
ouh you remember :)
 
I did find the end of that article amusing where they state the Indycar is set for a exciting future under Roger Penske... From the outside looking in I can't really say anything has changed besides the mention of Penske being the owner of the sport...
Like many, I had high hopes when Roger Penske bought the series. But I'm disappointed by the lack of vision and innovation right now. Also, Indycar doesn't seem to realize that it has fans outside of the US.

One example: Indycar tried to launch its own "Drive to Survive". It was called "100 days to Indy" and featured the drivers and their families, etc.

All good so far. BUT... It was broadcast on a network called "CW". Earth to Indycar: if you want to attract viewers younger than retirement age, don't put your series on a TV network. Put it on a *streaming* service, preferably one that has a worldwide audience. (In other words: not on Peacock.) Better yet: put it on YouTube so everyone can see it for free.
 
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we can just dream of an indycar 2023 dlc in rfactor2 since we have the license and it "s under-exploited with the updated liveries and 5/6 laser scan circuits that would be ideal in my opinion in the short term.
 

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