Ladies and Gentlemen Start Your Computers!
The names Richard Crozier, Joao Vaz, Klaus Ellenbrand and Klaus Kivekas may not be as familiar to IZOD IndyCar Series fans as, say, Dario Franchitti, Danica Patrick, Will Power, Justin Wilson or Takumo Sato. But they are IndyCar champions in their own right, champions of an IndyCar Series that – like the IZOD IndyCar Series itself — draws an elite group of racers from across the country and around the world to compete on America’s finest speedways and road courses in their Dallara-Hondas.
Crozier, Vaz, Ellenbrand and Kivekas are among the very best of a rapidly growing number of racers who compete online, racing meticulously-modeled cars on precise replicas of tracks like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and the Milwaukee Mile through iRacing.com Motorsports Simulations.
iRacing.com was founded by financier and Boston Red Sox principle-owner John Henry and motorsports simulation pioneer Dave Kaemmer in 2004. Henry and Kaemmer set-out to create the world’s most authentic online motorsport simulation as a source of entertainment and training for racing fans, competitors and computer gamers around the world.
Four years of development went into iRacing.com before the service was introduced to the public. That time was devoted to improving the existing technology replicating the motion-producing forces associated with moving vehicles as well as working with auto makers and race car constructors to create exact virtual race cars. The young company also visited race tracks across North America, Europe and Australia using laser scan technology to not only recreate their every twist, turn and straightaway, but the cracks and undulations of the pavement to an accuracy of a single millimeter.
Another area of focus was the development of web site technology enabling hundreds of online racers around the world to compete – simultaneously – in different race cars on different race tracks. Still another consideration was the creation of a sanctioning body to administer the iRacing.com competition, as well as a license system that discourages reckless driving in a sport lacking the financial and physical deterrents inherent in real world racing. Finally, iRacing developed a method of measuring the proficiency of its individual members that automatically groups drivers by skill levels for individual races and season-long championships.
In the two and a half years its virtual doors have been open to the public, iRacing.com has attracted more than 25,000 members including dozens of professional drivers like Power, Wilson, Tomas Scheckter, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Alex Gurney and Joey Logano.
On any given day, iRacing stages hundreds of online races from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Mid-Ohio, Infineon and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in everything from Mazda MX5s and Sprint Cars to NASCAR Sprint Cup Impalas, IZOD IndyCar Series Dallara-Hondas and Formula One Williams-Toyota FW31s.
What’s more, hundreds of private online racing leagues use the iRacing system. One of them — the 16th Street League – was founded by Brian Simpson and Tony George, Jr. and features IndyCar regulars Wilson and Scheckter racing against regular folks whose names are unfamiliar to even the most rabid IndyCar fan.
iRacing sanctions online IndyCar racing of several varieties. The iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Series follows the service’s standard four twelve week seasons per calendar year while the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series consists of 16 races over 32 weeks. Just like the “real” IZOD IndyCar Series, the iRacing series crowns an overall champion as well as road racing and oval champions, with the IZOD IndyCar Premier Series champion winning a cash prize and a trip to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Each May also concludes with the World Tour of iRacing Indianapolis 500, one of a series of events honoring some of the world’s great motorsports events including the Daytona 500, Belgian Grand Prix, Brickyard 400 and Petit Le Mans. The 2010 iRacing.com Indianapolis 500 saw nearly 800 iRacers competing in more than two dozen races – simultaneously . . . and more than two dozen iRacers gulping down some milk with Franchitti on Memorial Day weekend.