The NTT IndyCar Series will host their inaugural iRacing Challenge this weekend on Saturday afternoon at 4PM ET. A number of current NTT IndyCar Series drivers will participate in the virtual racing series from now until May.
The NTT IndyCar Series partnered with iRacing 5o create the NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge with fans voting via social media as to which tracks they would like to see featured on the calendar.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam, a veteran of virtual sim racing previewed this weekend’s action for IndyCar:
How serious are NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers about sim racing on their personal computers?
“I’d say about 30 percent are into sim racing and about 15 percent are religious about it. If you’ve jumped in an actual simulator (as professional drivers have) and know how to drive a race car like we do, there’s a pretty decent chance you’re going to be competitive.”
What level àof equipment does an INDYCAR driver need to be competitive Saturday?
“Honestly, if they’ve got a decent computer that can run the software they should be fine. Anyone who is serious has good stuff. Like, I’ve got a pretty good set of pedals that I can calibrate to my liking – I like it to feel how hard you have to hit the brakes in an Indy car to stop it. But it’s like anything else, it can get expensive. When I started, I had a (combined) pedal and steering wheel unit that cost me $300. Now, my pedals alone cost $1,500, and I have three monitors. It can get pretty crazy, like racing does.”
Is the sensation similar to driving on an actual track?
“You’re feeling the strength it takes to drive an actual car, but you’re not feeling the little details – that feeling in your butt or feeling when the car bottoms out or loses traction or slides. You don’t get those little details. But it’s pretty close in a lot of ways.”
Would you rather virtually race on a road course or an oval?
“I think a road course puts on a better show; it would go a lot smoother and be a better show than an oval. When you’re on a simulator you have no fear of getting hurt, so on an oval you’re not scared to make a mistake. You can make it three-wide going into a corner where you’d never do that in real life and if you wreck it’s like … ‘OK.’ So, on a road course there are a lot fewer yellows and that makes for a better show.”
Everyone in this race will have the same car setup, which takes away some of the advantage you might have as an experienced sim racer. Is that the best way?
“Yes. We want this to be a competitive race. With open setups, I would do better, for sure. But for fairness, this is the best thing for everyone — and the fans.”
Obviously, large gatherings have been shuttered for the next several weeks. Do you find a simulated race to be a good alternative for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its fans?
“We all know why we can’t (gather in large groups). We’re the only sport that can do something like this. It’s a win-win for all of us. It gives us something to compete in, and it’s cool for the fans. It’s a pretty good solution with everything that’s going on.”