Chances are, if you’ve raced on a track or on the street, or just driven a car in your life, there’s been a time that a good ol’-fashioned Nintendo reset button would have come in handy: maybe that time you overshot the braking zone and hit the tire wall, missed a shift and sent your engine revving to 10,000 rpm, or had that simple freeway on-ramp mishap. Or all of the above. How nice would a magic button be—a quick press that put you back in the pits or your driveway with a new car, a fresh start, and an intact budget?
But you likely don’t have a reset button in your vehicle. However, with a computer, some software, a bit of spare time, and a desire to race, you can get much of the thrill of racing without risking wrinkled metal and great bodily harm.
What we’re talking about here is a subscription-based Internet racing simulator called iRacing.com. Designed for people who have racing experience as well as those who want some, iRacing is an excellent training tool for all. Placing realism and accuracy at the core of the experience, it is about as close to the real thing as you can get without a professional-racing budget.
Accuracy requires attention to detail, and this is definitely something the folks at iRacing.com kept in mind when designing their product. The heart of this philosophy is displayed in the representations of the tracks and in the cars themselves, as well as the physics engine that dictates how they interact with one another.
Designers start by laser-scanning the racetrack surfaces for extreme precision. The 3-D scanning technology allows for accuracy down to the millimeter, so every bump, crack, and imperfection at the available racing venues is captured and represented.
Attention to detail also defines iRacing.com’s re-creation of the vehicles. Although many modern video games have arguably perfected the appearance of their vehicle models, it’s what’s inside that counts. Accurately representing the exterior dimensions and appearance of a vehicle is important, but modeling the mechanical components is even more so. To that end, iRacing designers scan, weigh, and measure each part of the actual race cars and assemble them digitally, giving users a mathematically correct vehicle to drive on the mathematically correct racing surface.
The last part of the equation involves joining the first two elements together, a feat achieved by an all-new tire-modeling system. By re-creating the forces a tire endures during varying speeds and loads, this tire model enhances the precision of the software.