Thursday, January 21, 2010
Got Game? You Could Be A NASCAR Champion
Moving into the world of online gaming, NASCAR announced Thursday it has partnered with iRacing.com to create the NASCAR iRacing Series. The first of 18 events will be held February 9, 2010, which will kick off a 39-week NASCAR iRacing Drivers World Championship.
Establishing this a serious undertaking, not every gamer will be able to partake in this new top-level online racing series. Instead, the 50 top-rated drivers currently competing in iRacing’s Pro Series will be eligible to participate. Included among that top-50 is NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and avid online racer Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“iRacing is the most modern racing simulation ever created,” Earnhardt Jr.’s testimonial reads on iRacing.com. “Every inch of every track in modeled perfectly. I’ve used iRacing to learn new courses such as Virginia International Raceway, or to keep the rust off at tracks such as Infineon Raceway.”
Online racing has helped a number of younger drivers over the years as they transitioned into the world of NASCAR. Denny Hamlin swept the races at Pocono in 2006 despite never being to the track and credited the win in part to weeks of training on his computer. This phenomenon has become an even more important tool now that NASCAR has eliminated testing for the top touring series.
While it is safe to say none of those that founded NASCAR could have ever imagined an online racing series falling under the NASCAR umbrella, one man was far beyond his time. The late Bill France Jr. envisioned an online racing series nearly 15 years ago.
“Bill France Jr. was ahead of his time when he initially had the vision of an online racing series. Thanks to evolving technology NASCAR fans can virtually compete at their favorite track and have their chance to end up in a victory lane,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President Paul Brooks.
Over the last year NASCAR has worked with iRacing to develop what they call a “sporting code” that will serve as the series rule book. In addition to the NASCAR iRacing Drivers World Championship, NASCAR will also sanction five amateur series. These lower series will be available to anyone with a membership to iRacing.com (a one month trial subscription is only $14 according to iRacing.com).
For those serious about getting involved in the most available form of NASCAR racing, you will have to work your way up to the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series. Consisting of the 250 top-ranked drivers, this series will be the launching pad into the more elite Drivers World Championship. Racing will begin in May 2010 to set the stage for the 2011 NASCAR iRacing Drivers World Championship.
“We’ve created our online racing service for racers and fans,” iRacing president Tony Gardner said. “We’ve done the hard work to make it simple and easy for NASCAR fans to join iRacing and get behind the wheel. You don’t have to be a computer geek to do this. PC owners with a broadband connection, only need to purchase an inexpensive wheel-and-pedal set from their local consumer electronics store or online. In an hour, they can be racing. It’s that simple. Everything an aspiring racer needs to know to get started is on our Web site, at www.iracing.com.”
The series will be broken up into four 12-week seasons and feature various forms of racing including modifieds, late models, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trucks, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars. Much like the typical career progression, participants will have to work their way up from the short tracks to the top three NASCAR series.
So if you think you have what it takes to beat the best of the gaming world and call yourself a true NASCAR winner, sign up at iRacing.com and let the dream begin. Who knows, you may end up racing Dale Earnhardt Jr. some day.
Jay W. Pennell