Q: Street circuits are a big part of motorsports, but seem to bring up many issues when laser scanning and recreating the tracks, has iRacing considered alternatives that would help bring more of these types of track into the service?
We are going to get Long Beach done over time and have talked to other street course circuits recently, but Long Beach is a scary big project. There is so much going on around the course and even directly on the course, so it's not just the buildings and big city, you have the marina and boats, the amusement park, it has every object you can think about, and lots of each. There are so many details with the buildings and uniquely shaped buildings. Then you have to consider all of the lights and street lights, and fencing.
As most people would guess, street courses generally take the longest to build followed by road courses. Objects on the courses are extremely time-consuming as well and, obviously, the more objects on a course the larger the project. We have considered some alternatives for street courses but do not want to sacrifice quality. Who knows, maybe we will change our stance on that to some degree — take some background objects for example — but I can't see us ever doing a real-world track that is not laser scanned unless another method of that quality presents itself.
Street lights, amusement parks, unique buildings . . . just a few of the challenges in creating virtual street circuits to iRacing's exacting standards.
Q: iRacing is branching out around the world, with its latest scan trip in Japan, is it your goal to hit every continent? Will Europe be looked at more now that most major American venues are in the service?
I don't know that we have defined a goal to hit every continent. It's more of a goal to offer a wide variety of great tracks around the world. Certainly would like to get more European tracks and we will.
Q: Nurburgring Nordschleife, Monaco, Circuit de la Sarthe, Bathurst, is it even possible for iRacing, or would these projects be too massive and time consuming compared to a regular circuit?
I think we would do some of those if we could get a license and we are trying to do that on some of them. I bet we would have already scanned and maybe done Bathurst if we could have gotten a license, and we are still trying. We are also trying to get a license for Monaco. Nordschleife is a different animal. We would have to tackle that one differently if we ever did it. Talking about big tracks, and not sure if and when we would do itm but we would like to get a license for Le Mans as well, at least as a starting point, but that would be another massive project.
Q: Fantasy tracks seem to be discussed once in a while. Is this something iRacing would ever think about?
Yes it comes up. Maybe someday we will mess around with a fantasy track for fun. Papyrus had a couple in the old days.
The Long Beach spline is finished . . . now comes the tricky part!
Q: What is the status of these tracks that are currently signed?
Auto Club Speedway (aka Fontana) – Not scanned yet – rumors about it changing.
Autodromo Jose Carlos (aka Interlagos) – Working on getting a scan, some progress. Would love to get this track done.
Kansas Speedway – Making sure no changes to track before scanning.
Langley Speedway – Scanned, will finish this track in 2012.
Long Beach – Production was started and stopped as some members know. The spline is completely done. We will pick up working on this track again in 2012! It is big so not promising releasing in 2012!
Lucas Oil Raceway (aka IRP) – Production has started.
Miller Motorsports Park – On list to do at some point.
New Jersey Motorsports Park – Scanned, on list to do at some point
New Smyrna Speedway – Releasing next month – December 2011 – both night and day versions!
Oran Park Raceway – Will finish in 2012.
Tsukuba Circuit – Some production has started; would expect it will be done in 2012.
Willow Springs International Motorsports Park – Scanned, some production work done, but put on hold for now.
Circuit Zolder – Spline started; will finish in 2012.
Twing Ring Motegi is next road course that will be done and, I might add, a great track!
Daytona rescan is also coming before the Daytona 500.
Q: Recently a member of an F1 team offered to put iRacing in touch with the company that does the scans for the teams. Is this something that could work with iRacing, or are there major factors that would prevent this?
We have talked with some contractors that do scans and sell them to race teams, etc. There are not many of them and we have not built any tracks with laser-scans that we have purchased from someone else. They want to get paid for the scans, obviously. The dollars are about as much or more than it costs us to do the scan ourselves and then we have to deal with someone else's data which we may or may not be able to work with. Either way that adds additional time and work. None of the contractors that we have talked with have anywhere close to a full inventory of laser scanned tracks for any particular series. Plus the way we do our scans is different and probably of higher quality and detail, so I'm not sure how much it helps us to consider laser scans from third parties unless we just can't get the scan for some reason.
We also would still need the license from the track. Typically getting a scan done is not the problem in getting a track done. Probably the most important thing we need is simply the time to build all the tracks our members want. It also does not make sense for us at this point to build tracks that only a small percentage of people are interested in. I think we come out with tracks at probably just about the right rate. They are very expensive to build in both money and time, and there are thousands and thousands of tracks in the world, so something has to give. We can't build everyone's “home” track.
Q: As you know members love to speculate what is coming next. Any hints you can give us about tracks currently in the process of being signed?
Really no big secret. What you would guess is what we are probably working on as high-level targets, plus it's always nice to add in some smaller, lesser-known tracks, because people like that type of racing as well. Some tracks we work on for years before we close a license, so I don't want to mislead anyone by saying we are working on getting a license. I mentioned a few already that we are working on. We have been working on the F1 track in Hungary as another example, and we have been working on Montreal for years. As you can see from the list of signed tracks above we have lot of work already to do, so honestly we're not running around signing every track we can. If we did that, it disappoints the tracks and members when we don't work on it on a timely basis. But I promise, as we work down the list we will keep signing more.