As the name implies, the iRacing.com IZOD INDYCAR Premier Series is the world’s foremost online IndyCar race series. Officially-sanctioned by INDYCAR®, the 16 race series features iRacing’s Dallara IndyCar and is contested on the online racing service’s meticulously-modeled virtual oval and road courses over the course of 36 weeks. And, like the IZOD IndyCar Series, the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series crowns both road and oval champions, as well as an overall series champion who (along with a guest) will win a trip to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. There he or she will receive the season trophy and be recognized during the pre-race driver introductions for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale.
It’s early yet, but Scandinavian Yang Ou has the inside line on a trip to Vegas. He’s leading both the iRacing IZOD IndyCar Premier Series oval and road racing standings after events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Barber Motorsports Park, Watkins Glen International, Michigan International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. Another Scandinavian – Aleksi Elomma – trails Ou by just six points (496 to 490) on the road side with Americans Ryan Field, PJ Stergios and Ken Leach in striking distance. On the ovals, Ou is hotly-pursued by California’s Matt Switzer, Englishmen Shawn Stroud and Dave Carr Smith, with Niles Anders of Topeka in the mix as well.
And a look through the standings finds some familiar names, like those of Cary and Tony Bettenhausen (grandsons of two time national champion Tony Bettenhausen), not to mention former F1/NASCAR driver Scott Speed and 2010 SCCA VW Jetta TDi Cup rookie of the year, Wyatt Gooden. Ahead of them all and P14 in the oval points race is Romania’s Monica Clara Brand, virtual IndyCar racing’s answer to Danica Patrick . . . or is that Simona de Silvestro?
Of course, there are significant differences between the IZOD IndyCar Series and the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series. iRacing.com doesn’t yet have all the tracks on the IZOD IndyCar schedule available, just many of them: Texas Motor Speedway, the Milwaukee Mile, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park, Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Infineon Raceway and, of course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the other hand, the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series has some tracks many IndyCar fans and competitors wish were on the IZOD IndyCar schedule. Road America. Phoenix. Laguna Seca.
And where working your way up the ladder to a real IndyCar ride takes years, you can qualify for license to race in the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series in a weekend (although it typically takes a little longer).
But the biggest difference of all is cost. Where typical IZOD IndyCar Series budgets reside in the mid-seven figure neighborhood, if you have a reasonably current computer and steering wheel/pedal set, a full season of the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series can be done for around a hundred bucks.
Take that Chip and Roger!