Does iRacing need fewer races?
Image credit: iRacing.com

Should iRacing Have Fewer Races?

iRacing

The more content that releases, the more races iRacing hosts. But Angus believes there is a case to be made for fewer events on the service – here is why.

It is fair to say that, despite other titles looking to challenge it, iRacing is the go-to sim for online races. At any time of day, one can boot up the game and have a competitive race. In fact, a plethora of series feature races at least every other hour meaning there is always something to do.

But having competed in recent Michelin Pilot Challenge Special Events, I feel like the standard rotation of races no longer excites me. Indeed, there is nothing like competing in a race knowing this is the only chance you’ll have to do well. So what can iRacing do to ensure all races feel special?

What is the iRacing Michelin Pilot Challenge?

Throughout the past season, iRacing has hosted a series of multi-class GT4 and TCR races following the IMSA calendar. The Michelin Pilot Challenge is a real-world championship that supports the American sports car championship as it travels the country and iRacing has made it accessible to all.

Every other week, the series visits a new track. Better yet, with just four time slots spread out over a weekend, players have just four chances to extract a result. Indeed, the series acts much like a Special Event akin to the Daytona 24 or Sebring 12 Hours. However, being shorter, two-hour races, single-driver teams are eligible making for a fun weekend activity.

Throughout the season, I have taken part in these races and, towards the end of the season, they were my main reason for opening the game. In fact, these longer format events with no reset button felt more satisfying, and enjoyable to race in.

A Sense of Occasion

As aforementioned, these races were most definitely my most enjoyable events to compete in over the past few months. But why is that?

Well, the easiest explanation is that, as an endurance racing fan, I enjoyed the strategy that comes with a two-hour charge. It is certainly more interesting than the intensity of pushing for 30 minutes. But perhaps the true reason is that these races felt more special and even more important.

With just four opportunities to take part every two weeks, performing in one’s chosen time slot is crucial. Therefore, it pushes you to spend more time practicing before jumping into the race. Better yet, with no possibility of quitting and restarting the race 20 minutes later, keeping it on the island and getting to the finish is ever-more vital.

In fact, the pre-race nerves one may experience in league racing were very much present in these one-off events. Whilst unpleasant to be nervous before starting a race, the sense of occasion was immense and rendered other standard races on the game somewhat dull.

It seems a large portion of the iRacing community feels the same way, too. Indeed, each event I took part in saw hundreds of entries forming dozens of splits.

Better iRacing Standards?

With a larger talent pool looking to compete in each session, it is even easier to find racers of a similar skill set to oneself. Throughout the season, very rarely did I find myself in no-man’s land between slower and faster drivers. Instead, every event saw fierce race-long battles come down to race craft and strategic decisions.

It’s a simple matter of probability; the more people entering an event, the more likely it is for drivers of the same pace to be alongside each other. But that isn’t the best part of these events.

https://twitter.com/djleamy/status/1695575103742910917

Much like the long-form 24-hour races, getting to the end is the first key to success. Therefore, drivers must be far more careful to not cause incidents early on. In fact, first corner crashes, large pile-ups and aggressive moves were almost non-existent in the races I competed in.

Bar the odd spin or overly-optimistic lunge, the much-complained about iRacing standards were far better in these rare races.

Should iRacing Have Fewer Races?

So given these somewhat special races were so much fun and popular, should iRacing try to inject that same spice into all of its series? You will be happy to read that my answer is no. However, it would not hurt for the title to organise more single-driver events in the style of the current Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The way I see it, I would love for iRacing to retain its current schedule of races. Some like the rookie classes take place every 30 minutes and provide great practice for beginners. Others like the TC Challenge or ARCA Menards give racers what they want with frequent, short races. Top-flight series like IMSA, F1 and NASCAR Cup Series all allow fans to replicate their favourite real-world championships.

But in addition to this standard schedule, I would suggest that iRacing adds a selection of evening events. For each day of the week, I would like to see a long-form race feature just a pair of time slots. Indeed, these would form a total of seven new iRacing series with two or three runnings per week each. Each series would have its own car list and track calendar, providing something for each licence type; Oval, Road, Dirt Oval, Dirt Road.

Ideas for Extra iRacing Events

For example, Mondays may be a 100-minute IMSA event, Tuesdays may be NASCAR Cup races lasting well over an hour. Move to Wednesday and it’s time for a full-scale Rallycross Cup. Then, on Thursdays, Dirt Oval racers can compete in Sprint Cars for realistic race lengths. Fridays provide F1 fans with GP-length events. And personally, I would like to see more true endurance Special Events take place on weekends lasting over six hours.

I feel this addition would help attract iRacers interested in longer form, realistic events all whilst preserving the brilliant race any time reputation the sim has. Quality over quantity is how I want to race. But that doesn’t mean I want to end other racers’ fun.

What do you think of this new iRacing series proposal? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!