e​NASCAR iRacing is very popular among audiences & participants alike

Okay, its officially a thing. eNASCAR iRacing is the real deal for race fans. It is taking on a well-deserved life of its own.

Just one week after the inaugural race of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, NASCAR fans – and indeed fans of all auto racing – were treated to another exciting race, this time at virtual Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125.

William Byron leads the field to green at Texas

Timmy Hill won, putting a thrilling “boot, scoot and boogie” move on “Willie B.” and beating Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley to the checkered flag.

T​immy Hill (66) beats Ryan Preece (37) to the checkered flag at Texas

In between that and the green flag, there was non-stop action and a fair bit of mayhem.

Some of t​he crashes were spectacular, like this one between Ryan Blaney (12) & Kyle Busch (18)

As with last week’s event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the overall experience was very similar to watching an actual NASCAR race on TV. High-energy, fast-paced music and engine sounds saturated the senses, getting the adrenaline pumping. There were camera shots from a multitude of locations, including a high-in-the-sky blimp view. They were used to replay the spectacular wrecks.

Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon provided entertaining color commentary, Michael Waltrip interviewed racers in their ‘cars’ and Larry McReynolds served as a racing analyst.

Interspersed with all the fun – and it was all fun, since the drivers were never in danger of getting injured due to the virtual nature of the racing – were often hilarious, emotional reactions and commentary from Clint Boyer, as he tried to both race and have conversations with Mike and Jeff simultaneously. Good luck with that Clint! It is no wonder that you had some crashes. When Clint eventually hangs up his racing helmet, he could have a great second career as a race commentator – or as a standup comic! Who knew? Go Clint!

C​lint Bowyer (14) triggers a wreck during Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at Texas

“iRacing is a PC racing game that is used by professional drivers and casual gamers alike.” “iRacing organizes, hosts and officiates online racing on virtual tracks all around the world.” Series include the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, NTT IndyCar Series, World of Outlaws and NASCAR (car and truck series).

NASCAR racing is ideally suited to iRacing. Thanks to the way the rules work in NASCAR, the cars are often gathered back up for restarts, which adds greatly to the close racing action – resulting in as much as five-wide, bumper-to-bumper, door-to-door racing. Strategy plays an important role: whether to pit or not to pit, and two or four tires or fuel-only at pit stops? Tire wear is corner-specific, and affects handling and lap times. Penalties further add to the realism.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads Ryan Preece

For a comparison I watched a recent IndyCar iRace on a road course. On the plus side, the attention to detail was awesome. The video was bright and the track was very detailed. This was the first opportunity that many of us had to see IndyCar’s new “Aeroscreen” cockpit protection system, for rollover and cockpit intrusion protection.

In contrast to eNASCAR iRacing, on a road course the IndyCars got quite spread out and they pretty much stayed that way. It resembled a rather unexciting Formula One ‘parade.’ Furthermore, unlike eNASCAR, this race was online-only. I screen mirrored it to my big screen TV but encountered occasional technical difficulties. It dropped out of screen mirroring immediately before the first lap wreck.

M​ichael McDowell (34) and Christopher Bell (95) are involved in a wreck at Texas

iRacing has created complex, lifelike racing environments, including familiar features inside and outside of the tracks and grandstands. No doubt the level of detail and realism will only increase over time, hopefully adding fans circulating through the garage area, a bustling Fan Zone, crew members performing the pit stops, the cars driving around instead of through each other when entering and exiting their pit stalls, cars and trucks filling the parking lots, side-by-side racing during commercial breaks so that we do not miss anything, the addition of the exciting qualifying races to the Fox TV coverage, and more.

Hopefully eNASCAR iRacing will continue on Fox TV after regular racing resumes, perhaps with midweek races featuring the stars of NASCAR. The drivers seem to love it, and it gives low budget teams and drivers – such as this week’s race winner Timmy Hill, a 10-year veteran of NASCAR racing – opportunities to compete on an equal footing with the top teams, and shine.

Race now at www.iRacing.com, and for eNASCAR iRacing results, reports and more information visit www.enascar.com


Jan Wagner

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