NASCAR has teamed up with racing simulation company iRacing.com to sanction a league of online events. The 18-race, 39-week NASCAR iRacing Drivers World Championship, set to begin Feb. 9, will feature the 50 top-rated drivers currently racing in iRacing's Pro Series and will include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who recently clinched an entry. Selected races from the series will be carried over the internet on iRacing.com.
NASCAR and iRacing have worked together since the announcement of the partnership in 2009 to refine the structure of the series, establish a "sporting code" or rulebook, as well as develop an identity for the series.
iRacing will also host five NASCAR amateur series open to all NASCAR fans through membership in the iRacing.com online service. Just below the World Championship series, the 2010 NASCAR iRacing Pro Series is reserved for the 250 top-ranked, oval-track iRacing drivers and commences in May to determine eligibility to participate in the 2011 NASCAR iRacing Drivers World Championship.
NASCAR Senior Vice President Paul Brooks says the idea behind an online league was one cherished by former NASCAR chief Bill France Jr.
"Bill France Jr. was ahead of his time when he initially had the vision of an online racing series," Brooks said. "Thanks to evolving technology, NASCAR fans can virtually compete at their favorite track and have a chance to end up in a Victory Lane."
Tony Gardner, iRacing's president, explained that iRacing's staff has been busy fine-tuning the infrastructure and creating the organization that supports the vision of NASCAR online racing.
"We've created our online racing service for racers and fans," Gardner said. "We've done the hard work to make it simple and easy for NASCAR fans to join iRacing and get behind the wheel. You don't have to be a computer engineer to do this, all you need to know is how to turn on a computer and connect to the internet. For PC owners with a broadband connection, you just buy an inexpensive wheel-and-pedal set from your local consumer electronics store or online and in an hour you can be racing. It's that simple. Everything you need to know to get started is right there on our Web site, at www.iracing.com."
NASCAR-sanctioned amateur online racing series organized and hosted by iRacing.com have four 12-week seasons each calendar year, featuring modifieds, late models, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trucks, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars and mirror the skill ladder that NASCAR athletes typically follow, beginning with short-track racing and proceeding through virtual versions of the three premier real-world NASCAR series.
While iRacing competition licenses to participate in organized races are issued in progressive skill levels, all members are permitted to practice with any car on any track. In conjunction with the Daytona 500, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Talladega race and the NASCAR season-ending Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as part of its 2010 World Tour, iRacing will organize races that are open to any member of the service, regardless of license level.