Is iRacing Doing It For You?

First of all, I hope that you all are healthy and staying home for the most part. I know we started self-isolating before we were warned to, so this has been nearly a month of being stuck at home. But anyway, it’s a small price to pay to keep loved ones from getting sick.

After a couple weeks of no racing, I thought I would check out the iRacing that NASCAR is presenting to us in this time of a sports abyss. I saw that it has been quite a big deal in social media so what the heck, how bad can it be?

For me, I wasn’t impressed.

This is really just a super glorified version of what I used to play at home but with far more expensive gear. I am sure there are more extensive race set ups that one can put into their simulators because after all, this is what drivers use to get used to tracks. There are no physical effects of what a driver goes through in a race, no G-forces for example, and those are some of the things that truly make certain tracks more difficult than others. I think that plays into the simulated racing action that you see.

So first of all, I had to wrap my head around that. This is just expensive simulated racing. And I had to wrap my head around the fact that the race is sold out. I mean, when was the last time you saw stands that full? Not to be a Debbie Downer, but my wife walked into the room and that was the first thing she noticed.

The drivers are all sitting in their homes on their simulator set up. Some of the cameras were better than others and I think that could be improved on. It was obvious that some of the drivers were talking to – someone? – but the viewer couldn’t hear what was being said.

The car and race graphics are spectacular.  I mean, really freaking good. But as a race simulator to help a driver get used to a track, it has to be.

The announcers treat it as a real race and that nagged at me. What I really enjoyed was the give and take with Clint Bowyer during the Bristol “race.” Clint is a real breath of fresh air in NASCAR and keeps it real.

The “race” saw a lot of early cautions and I wonder if the lack of any physical feeling of actual racing played into some of that. The way the cars wreck is a bit odd and there are some gaps in the replays that are just technical limitations of the simulation and perhaps drivers taking a “redo” with their virtual car.

The weather was in the mid-50s and sunny outside, so I had to take advantage of that for a bit. We had some chores to do but I did wander back to FS1 and was too late to catch the end of the “race.” Thankfully, they are much shorter events.

I suppose if you watched your Twitter feed during the event you might enjoy some of the back and forth between drivers. For example, Bubba Wallace had an early exit and got some Twitter aggression. For a game. Like Bubba said, get real folks.

Perhaps had I caught more of the later stages of the event I might have enjoyed it a little more. I will try again to see if my opinion has changed but for me, simulated racing just isn’t cutting the mustard. Part of the attraction to real racing is the knowledge the drivers are on the edge, racing at very fast speeds and risking their lives. Simulated racing may have some small entertainment value with Clint Bowyer, but it’s not enough to keep me glued to the action.

Sorry NASCAR. I hope others are enjoying it and getting their fix, but it’s kind of depressing we’ve gotten to this level.

In the meantime, stay safe and hug those you love.

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