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iRacing: Virtual (SIM) racing during the Hiatus

iRacing: Virtual (SIM) racing during the Hiatus

Oakville, ON, Mar 30/20 (GRW): Given that the current hiatus in all the racing series has left us with a huge gulf in our race viewing schedule just at the time the various lock down orders have left us stranded at home with nothing much to do, race fans are turning to the online computer simulation races as a substitute. If you look hard enough you can find many video SIMS representing cars and tracks from most of the major race series.

So far, the best of the bunch look to be the iRacing-based races based on the IndyCar series and the NASCAR Cup Series and featuring fields packed with the actual stars of these series racing via their home-based setups.

While you can watch these races live (see below for times and dates) you can also search them out and watch them as replays.

eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series

• So far there have been two races in this hiatus-filler series: Homestead and Texas. Denny Hamlin held off Dale Earnhardt Junior to win at Homestead while Timmy Hill (who has 96 starts in the Cup series but who has never finished in the top ten) won at Texas. Hill is well-known as a master of the iRacing competition.
• All of the drivers competing in this race series have experience in one or more of the NASCAR series. Most of them have NASCAR Cup credentials but some have other experience – for example the Canadians Stewart Friesen from NGROTS and Alex Labbe from the Pinty’s Series and the Xfinity series. There are a few currently inactive drivers as well such as Earnhardt Jr and Bobby Labonte.
• The next race will be on Sunday, April 5 at 1:00P ET and will use a simulation of the Bristol Motor Speedway.
• Other races scheduled for later (presumably at 1:00P as well) include:
     April 19, Richmond Raceway
     April 26, Talladega Superspeedway
     May 3, Dover Intl. Speedway
• These simulated races can be seen on actual broadcast TV (FS1 – and FOX at times – in the USA, and Fox Sports Racing and TSN in Canada). You can also try YouTube for a replay of the race.

IndyCar iRacing Challenge

• The first race in this hiatus series was held last Saturday at Watkins Glen International (a track not currently on the IndyCar schedule). The younger drivers with more SIM racing experience came to the fore with Sage Karam winning over Felix Rosenqvist and Will Power. Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe was supposed to be part of the field but equipment problems left him with a DNS. Robert Wickens had planned to race using a special Max Papis steering wheel with hand controls but the courier did not arrive at his base soon enough; he is hoping to be ready to go for the next race.
• As with the NASCAR Pro Invitational Series, the driver lineup was almost entirely currently active IndyCar drivers with a few special guests including the Australian Scott McLaughlin who is hoping to race for Penske at the Indy road course later this year, Kyle Kaiser the 2017 Indy Lights champion and Canadian Dalton Kellett who will be driving part-time in the IndyCar series this year
• The next race will be run on the Barber Motorsports Park next Saturday, April 4 at 4:00P ET
• Other races scheduled for later (presumably at the same 4:00P time slot as well) include:
     April 11, ‘Drivers’ Choice track
     April 18, ‘Random Draw’ track
     April 25, COTA
     May 2, a non-Indy ‘Dream’ track (chosen by the drivers?)
• These simulated races will be streamed through INDYCAR.com while INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook platforms as well as iRacing’s Twitch will serve as additional outlets for viewing. You can also try YouTube for a replay of the race.

eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series

• If you want more NASCAR SIM racing this is another iRacing Series which has been running for a few years now. Unlike the Invitational described above, it is for iRacing members (‘40 of the Best Sim Racers in the World’), few of whom you will know but some of the car numbers and liveries may seem familiar.
• The most recent SIM race was held at Homestead on March 17 and it was won by Ryan Michael Luza.
• The next race will be run at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Tuesday, March 31 at 9:00P ET
• This series has races scheduled for the 2020 season through to November 1st , one race every second week (https://www.iracing.com/enascar-coca-cola-iracing-series-schedule/)
• You can watch these SIM races via streaming on eNASCAR.com, and on the iRacing Twitch, YouTube and Facebook channels

F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series

• This new series features a few current F1 drivers and a lot of others, some familiar names and some not.
• The first race was held on Sunday, March 22, the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix. It was mixed bag of drivers and the platform used does not perform as well as the iRacing one. Hopefully the virtual racing show as well as the race commentary will improve as this series goes on during the hiatus.
• The virtual races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix, starting with the Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday March 22. Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world Formula 1 race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix*, with the initiative currently scheduled to run until May.
• The broadcast, which will be available on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels, as well as F1.com, is expected to run for 1 hour 30 minutes, with a qualifying period where grid positions will be determined based on the drivers’ fastest lap time.
• During non-race weekends, Formula 1 will also be hosting online exhibition races, where fans from around the world will be given the chance to go head-to-head with F1 drivers. More details of these events will be available across the official Formula 1 social media channels in the coming weeks.

SRO E-Sport GT Series

• This ‘series’ seems to have been a number of preliminary events leading up to a finale which was run live at Monza last Sunday, March 29.
• I have to admit that I can’t warm up to the GT style of racing offered by SRO but I did enjoy watching the race on the Monza circuit which I had visited last September. Others who are more committed to this style of GT3 racing feel that this race was almost in the same league as the two series (NASCAR Invitational and IndyCar Challenge) mentioned above.
• If this kind of GT racing is your thing, you can watch this race in replay. Go to YouTube, find GT World and then click on ‘videos’ and you should be able to find the reply broadcast easily.

Another thought (YouTube)

• There is a great deal of racing content on YouTube, including many races which date back over many years. If you are looking for something to fill your time, or to improve your knowledge of the history of auto racing, check out YouTube.



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