Let’s talk about iRacing

My iRacing subscription is running out at the end of the month and I don’t plan on re-subscribing. There are a bunch of other simulators I want to experience and review here on YSAR. That series of posts is about to start, but before I journey into new territory, let me take a moment to reflect on my most recent iRacing experience.

Delta Challenge and the MX-5

I love trying new tracks, and the delta challenge gave me some motivation to try tracks I didn’t think I would be interested in. I don’t imagine many YSAR readers actually took up the challenge, but if you did, I hope you also found some pleasure in it. I know I did.

This also gave me a chance to drive the Global MX-5 Cup car. Back when I was an iRacing Rookie, we were in the NC car. The ND is a fantastic car even with the baseline setup. I hear a lot of complaints about it though. Here’s my advice.

  • Understeer – If this is your complaint, you’re probably trying to steer while mashing the throttle on a too-slow entry. Enter faster, hold some brake while turning, and you will find it oversteers plenty.
  • Oversteer – If this is your complaint, it’s probably because you are mashing the throttle while holding the wheel in one place. Open the steering wheel just before adding throttle and keep opening it gradually while you add throttle. If you run out of track, your idea about the corner geometry was off.
  • Twitchy – Cars slip around at the limit in real life too. It’s easier to go beyond the limit in a simulator where you don’t have Gs you can feel and where your survival instincts aren’t telling you to slow down. Learn to drive the limit in iRacing and it will give you the confidence to drive faster in real life.

How has iRacing changed for the better?

There’s a lot more free content than there used to be. When new models of cars/tracks supersede others, they make the older ones free. So even if you don’t buy any cars or tracks, there’s plenty to keep you busy for months. While I didn’t get to try much of the new dirt tracks, I thought Daytona and Phoenix were really fun. Balancing dirty traction in the MX-5 is sort of like driving on a really wet track in the real world. The dirt model in iRacing is pretty darn good.

How has iRacing changed for the worse?

Nothing is really worse, but like a shark, if you don’t keep moving forward, you die. Not that iRacing has any chance of dying anytime soon. The competitors are so bad at match-making and custom games, that iRacing continues to have a bright future. So even though some parts of the service are worse than its competitors, iRacing is still winning the esports racing scene. So what parts of iRacing aren’t moving forward?

Website

The home page looks like it was built in the early 2000s. Aside from the look, there are many silly errors and inconsistencies. It’s like they don’t have any QC/QA personnel. Or they don’t care. Or they don’t have time. Whatever the cause, the UI makes for a pretty amateurish user experience.

Tires

The tire model is still a problem. They have the most grip within the first 5-10 minutes, after which, the grip gets worse. As soon as you heat a tire over X, it will never have optimal grip again. In the real world, not all the tires have the same properties, yet it appears they do in iRacing. It’s also harder to control a drift in iRacing than in other simulators or in the real world. Is this a problem with their force feedback or tire model? I don’t know, but I’m lumping them together and saying that whatever model they have for grip and grip feedback is bugged. It’s not completely useless, but some other simulators are both more fun, and more realistic in my experience.

Content

Where are all the low performance cars? Also, where are the front wheel drive cars? I don’t own many iRacing cars because I don’t like the selection. I do own a lot of tracks though, and that selection is very good because everything is laser scanned. I wish they had more of the tracks I visit in real life, but I would say that about every simulator. It doesn’t really bother me that cars and tracks cost money. All of this shit is so much cheaper than real world racing.

When Will I Return?

I’ll renew my subscription again…

  • If I’m going to a track in the real world and only iRacing has it
  • If my real life racing buddies want to do endurance racing online
  • If I want to do a simulator shootout
  • If a long time passes and I want to check in on it again

Until then, I’m off to drive other sims. Check back soon for some of those stories.

iRacing delta challenge #20/20: Daytona Short Rally

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

[Legacy] Daytona International Speedway – 2008 Rallycross Short

I drove this for just a few laps when I first re-subscribed to iRacing, just to see what the dirt model was like. I knew it would be lots of fun, so I saved it for last.

Delta = 40.825

The mixture of dirt and asphalt is so much fun to drive. The Phoenix layout is just a little better. I would drive this all day and never set a tire on the big oval. The variation in lap to lap is mostly the dirt section. Driving with low grip takes more discipline because it’s easy to mess up your line with too much of one pedal or the other. You have to be really precise with your inputs.

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson 0:55.980 10
2 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
3 Phoenix 2008 Rally 0:49.593 25
4 Daytona 2008 Rallycross Short 0:40.825 19
5 Charlotte Roval 1:35.627 14
6 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
7 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
8 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
9 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
10 Tsukuba 2000 Short 0:49.761 19
11 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
12 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
13 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
14 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
15 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17
16 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
17 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
18 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
19 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
20 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

The End

So that concludes the iRacing delta challenges. I could have done a few more, but I think 20 is plenty. It’s no surprise that Summit Point Jefferson would be my favorite track. I could have predicted that from the outset given an aerial photo. It’s also not surprised that the rally tracks would be ranked high. I mean, DiRT Rally is one of my all time favorite games. What did surprise me is how much I like short oval infields. That makes me think I might love autocross if it was lapped rather than point-to-point.

iRacing delta challenge #19/20: Tsukuba 2000 Short

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

Tsukuba Circuit 2000 Short

This circuit isn’t 100% new to me, as I did drive for 30 minutes on the 2000 Full configuration about 2 months ago. The Short configuration cuts the longest straight roughly in half. I happen to like short tracks, so I expected this to be better.

Delta = 49.761

This is a really good track that is difficult to master. What could possibly be better than driving 80s and 90s cars around this circuit like they do in the Best Motoring videos? Well, too bad iRacing doesn’t have any. Inte-R FTW!

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson 0:55.980 10
2 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
3 Phoenix 2008 Rally 0:49.593 25
4 Charlotte Roval 1:35.627 14
5 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
6 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
7 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
8 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
9 Tsukuba 2000 Short 0:49.761 19
10 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
11 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
12 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
13 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
14 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17
15 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
16 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
17 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
18 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
19 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #18/20: CMS Roval

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

With 8 different configurations, CMS might be the winner for the track with most number of configurations. I really liked the Legends RC Medium earlier, but that used only the interior and not any parts of the oval. I generally don’t like driving around ovals, so I expected the Roval configuration to be less fun.

Delta =1:36.627

Oddly enough, the Roval is even better than the infield. In fact, it’s one of the best tracks I’ve driven. To drive this fast, you have to be disciplined about your geometry and focused on your exit speed. In real life there are real consequences to hitting a wall, and there are plenty of walls. If I drove this in real life, I’d be real careful! And also very happy. Lucky Dog has a race coming up in August, but it’s a long trip and I’m not sure I want to fly these days.

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson 0:55.980 10
2 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
3 Phoenix 2008 Rally 0:49.593 25
4 Charlotte Roval 1:35.627 14
5 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
6 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
7 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
8 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
9 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
10 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
11 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
12 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
13 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17
14 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
15 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
16 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
17 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
18 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #17/20: Phoenix Rallycross

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

[Legacy] Phoenix International Raceway – 2008 Rallycross

This is one of two free rallycross tracks in iRacing, the other being Daytona. I’ve driven a little on the Daytona course but not Phoenix. Both courses are less than half dirt and feature a jump. What the hell is an MX-5 with race track suspension and tires doing on a dirt track with jumps? That’s sort of like asking what a runner is doing on an Tough Mudder course. The answer is having a surprisingly great time.

Delta = 49.593

OK, so this time I cheated. I wanted to break 50 seconds, and that happened on lap 21. Then I kept getting faster every lap and didn’t want to stop. I finally reined myself in at 25 laps. This track is ridiculously fun because the dirt is so slippery. I could very easily given this the top rank if the venue wasn’t such an eye sore. Put some dirt on Jefferson and that would be perfection!

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson 0:55.980 10
2 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
3 Phoenix 2008 Rally 0:49.593 25
4 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
5 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
6 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
7 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
8 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
9 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
10 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
11 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
12 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17
13 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
14 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
15 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
16 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
17 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #16/20: Summit Jefferson

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

Summit Point Jefferson Circuit

A few sessions ago I discovered how great Summit Jefferson was in the reverse direction. A track that good is bound to be good in either direction. It did not disappoint. In fact, I like the forward direction a little more than reverse.

Delta = 55.980

In 2014, they made an extension that lengthens the 1.1 mile course to 1.7 miles, but iRacing has only the old 1.1 mile course. I’ll bet it’s even better now. So I went to the Summit Point website to imagine when I might drive this course. Weirdly, it’s almost never rented. In the prime driving months from June to September, the Main circuit has 75 events. The Shenandoah track, which is often used for drifting, has 30 events. Jefferson has only 4. WTF? It’s literally one of the best tracks I’ve driven on in the virtual world and nobody drives it in real life.

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson 0:55.980 10
2 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
3 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
4 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
5 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
6 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
7 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
8 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
9 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
10 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
11 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17
12 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
13 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
14 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
15 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
16 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #15/20: Tsukuba 1000 Reverse

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse

Tsukuba 1000 didn’t get much praise from me in the forward direction, so I didn’t expect much in reverse. Earlier this year, I got to drive Thunderhill West in reverse, and I was shocked at how completely different it was. While I prefer the forward direction, there are others who prefer reverse. In either case, Thunderhill West is great. But 1000 is sort of a crap foundation, so I didn’t expect much in the other direction.

Delta = 40.878

The reverse configuration is somehow more interesting to me. It’s still a flat track without much going on, but it’s much improved in reverse. I’m sure there’s another driver somewhere with the opposite opinion. Some people like decreasing radii while others like increasing.

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap Priority Pits
1 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20 0 20
2 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12 0 31
3 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20 0 60
4 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9 0 43
5 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20 0 60
6 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14 0 28
7 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18 0 60
8 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15 0 62
9 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17 0 51
10 Tsukuba 1000 Full Reverse 0:40.878 17 0 60
11 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14 0 15
12 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15 0 60
13 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8 0 23
14 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7 0 62
15 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20 0 51

iRacing delta challenge #14/20: TMS Long

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

[Legacy ] Texas Motor Speedway – 2009 Road Course Long

TMS A bad. TMS B good. When you mix two short courses into a long one, does the combination get better, worse, or end up somewhere in between? That’s what I aimed to find out.

Delta = 40.538

20 laps came way too early. I had my best lap on #9 and was flirting with beating that so many times afterwards. Grr. What a fun little course. The kinks between the 180s are entertaining, and the 180s are a great training ground for double downshifts and heel-toe. I could spend all day on this track. I’m 14 tracks into this survey, and starting to think that some of my favorite tracks are oval infields. Wait, did I just write that?

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
2 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
3 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
4 TMS 2009 Combined 0:40.538 9
5 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
6 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
7 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
8 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
9 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
10 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
11 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
12 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
13 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
14 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #13/20: TMS Short A

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

[Legacy ] Texas Motor Speedway – 2009 Road Course Short A

TMS B is a great training track, so I came into TMS A with the idea that it might be the same. It’s not. Somehow 20 laps at 25 seconds each was tedious. Sure, I was trying to get better every lap, but I was also watching the lap counter thinking “thankfully, this will be over soon”.

Delta = 24.995

Every track has some redeeming feature, something it can teach you. TMS A has this: even on violent little tracks it pays to be smooth. Smooth doesn’t mean slow inputs, but not letting the suspension get upset. Now I’m wondering where the Long course compares to A (bad) and B (good).

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
2 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
3 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
4 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
5 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
6 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
7 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
8 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
9 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
10 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
11 TMS 2009 Short A 0:24.995 8
12 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
13 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20

iRacing delta challenge #12/20: Silvestone South

There are a bunch of free tracks I’ve never driven in iRacing. Every few days I’m going to drive one with zero preparation and then post the fastest lap time here. That’s the delta time. Your mission, should you accept it, is to beat it (and then call me names in the comment section).

Here are the rules.

  1. Global Mazda MX-5 Cup, baseline setup
  2. Default Weather (78F, 2 MPH N, 55%, afternoon)
  3. 30 minutes or 20 laps, whichever comes first

[Legacy ] Silverstone Circuit – 2008 South

I came to this track with very low expectations as I found the National configuration to be snooze-worthy. But the South configuration has a completely different feel. It’s got a lot of medium to high speed corners and 2 chicanes. The track has a rhythm to it where there are technical sections interspersed with longish straights. It’s challenging.

Delta = 1:21.643

The first chicane frustrated me every lap. I feel like I did it okay twice out of 20 laps and never really got comfortable with it. The rest of the track I adapted to well, but I kept messing up the entry of the first chicane, and that would completely ruin the exit and the entire lap. I’d love to visit this in real life. There’s tons of runoff, so it looks very safe.

Track Rank

In this section I’m ranking the tracks in the order of my preference. I tend to like technical tracks with some elevation, short straights, and corners that are blind, off camber, decreasing radius, and connected.

 

Rank Track Delta Lap
1 Summit Jefferson Reverse 0:56.191 20
2 Pocono 2009 East 1:12.321 12
3 Charlotte Legends RC Medium 1:10.825 20
4 Charlotte 2008 Infield 0:47.637 20
5 Daytona 2008 Short 0:46.709 14
6 TMS 2009 Short B 0:27.062 18
7 Silverstone 2008 Southern 1:21.643 15
8 Phoenix 2008 Road 1:09.739 17
9 Pocono 2009 South 0:50.291 14
10 Tsukuba 1000 Chicane 0:42.149 15
11 Silverstone 2008 National 1:08.867 7
12 Pocono 2009 North 0:59.714 20