Driver Development Tool Now Available to Auto Racing Community and General Public
The announcement of iRacing's public launch was made at noon today by iRacing's co-founders and owners, John Henry, who is also principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, and Dave Kaemmer, a pioneer of motorsport simulation technology with more than 20 years experience in the field.
"This is a moment that Dave and I have eagerly envisioned, from the day in 2004 when we started iRacing.com," said Henry, who is also principal owner of Fenway Sports Group, co-owner of NASCAR's Roush Fenway Racing. "Development of the simulation and the service and the addition of more cars and tracks is and will be a continual process, but opening the service to all comers is an important milestone in the life of the company."
iRacing has signed agreements with most of the major North American motorsport facilities, including all of the tracks owned by International Speedway Corp (ISC) and Speedway Motorsports (SMI), which between them represent almost all the venues for NASCAR's Sprint Cup series. Most of the major North American road-racing circuits, from Connecticut's Lime Rock Park to Wisconsin's Road America to California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are also represented in iRacing's inventory of laser-scanned, extremely accurate digital versions of real-world raceways.
The simulation and its associated service, which licenses drivers and sanctions test sessions and races, were previously open only to a limited number of professional and amateur real-world racers and other select individuals with virtual driving experience.
"In a larger sense, today marks the commencement of an entire new sport -- internet racing, which parallels in every meaningful way the sport of auto racing in the physical world," Henry said. "In addition to real-world racing drivers, who have been using the simulation throughout its lengthy period of development and testing as part of their preparation for real-world driving, other members of the motorsport community, including fans, will now have an affordable opportunity to participate in an authentic racing experience and to join in a community of people who share their own passion for auto racing."
Kaemmer, an experienced real-world racer who has spent more than two decades developing ever more realistic simulation software, was co-founder and technical chief of Papyrus Design Group, developers of a multitude of award-winning racing simulations.
"It's always been my long-term goal to develop a simulation that had utility far beyond just entertainment," Kaemmer said. "What I wanted to do was create something that would provide a learning experience with real-world application. Of course, it turns out that for many people 'learning' is also entertaining. For them, we're the best of both worlds."
Kaemmer explained that the secret to building a simulation that is both entertaining and educational is accuracy. "And the key to achieving that high degree of accuracy is taking the time, using the proper tools and making the effort to get it right," Kaemmer said. "It was John's passion and a willingness on both of our parts to take the time we needed to do this right. If we'd had to start generating revenue 18 months or two years after we started, we never could have done this."
Building Virtual Race Cars & Tracks
The key to building virtual tracks that are unprecedented in their fidelity to their physical-world counterparts is the development by iRacing engineers of proprietary software that makes it possible to use highly accurate data generated by laser scanning, a relatively new and rapidly developing surveying technology.
"Our goal is simple," said Kaemmer. "It is to make each lap driven in the simulation as valid as a lap driven on the real-world version of that track. In order to get the tracks exactly right, we use three-dimensional laser scanning technology to develop a 'bump map' that lets the driver of the simulation experience every aspect of a lap, down to the finest detail -- not just braking points, turn-in points, or the apex of a corner but the track surface's camber, cracks, undulations and patches. This makes the virtual racing car respond in the simulation exactly as it does in the physical world."
On the vehicle side, iRacing's engineers work closely with major auto manufacturers and racecar constructors to gather all the data necessary to construct a virtual vehicle that's faithful to the original not just in appearance but in its performance.
Controlled by the simulation's physics engine -- a complex system of mathematical functions that replicates dynamic forces using data-driven calculations of action and reaction -- the virtual race car is not just a graphical representation of a stock car, formula car or sports car, but a complex set of interrelated mechanical systems. To the driver it feels real because, mathematically, it is real.
iRacing.com was founded in September of 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season and Grand Prix Legends. Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group -- the co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing -- as well as an avid simracer. The iRacing.com team combines more than 100 years of real-world racing experience with more than 50 years of successful racing simulation development.
Web site: http://www.iracing.com/