Dirt: initial thoughts

iRacing has been hiring lately and one of its new staff guys is Tyler D. Hudson, a great simracer and former iRacing champion. He wont start in a few days yet, but he was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new dirt mode and generous enough to sharing with rest of us in community forums.

Just this week I accepted a job at iRacing working in the customer service department working with Nim, Susan, Angela and the rest of the team including helping Shannon as well with the WC series. I am very excited about it and chomping at the bit to get going. I look forward to doing my best to help iRacers for many years to come. I don’t officially start for a couple weeks. I will be flying up to Bedford to start my training on the various systems they use and start my training. The only bummer is I will not be allowed to race in the NASCAR Peak World Championship Series but I’ll still be racing everything else when I can so that will be fun!

I also already started to get some employee perks. The guys let me try out the dirt content last night and after sending Steve a wall of text about it he thought it would be a good idea to post it in the forums! I’m also told Dirt is going to all alpha testers this week.

First, let me start by saying most of my real world racing experience is on dirt tracks, from karts, mini stock and street stocks to late models. Not an extraordinary amount, but more than any other form of racing. So I can honestly say that climbing into iRacing’s version of a dirt late model took me by a huge surprise. From the start I had the sensation I was back in my race car; not from the adrenaline rush as much as the fact that the driving sensation and feedback were like no other car I’ve ever driven in the sim.

There is so much to say about the many different cars iRacing is developing, but I’ll make this as short as possible. These guys have nailed it. Sure, there are some minor issues as with anything in development, but they blew this one out of the park. Maybe it’s because we dirt fans/racers have been left out for so long, we haven’t had anything worth playing since the PS2 game World of Outlaw Sprint Cars or Dirt to Daytona, but believe me, this is the real deal.

The track changes…. A LOT, visually and grip wise. That is a huge part of what makes dirt racing what it is, so you’ll be happy to hear that. You legitimately have to search for moisture in the track for grip. After 10 laps around the bottom at Eldora, the grip had fallen off by half a second and – visually – you could SEE the track change color from wet to dry dirt.

I followed the moisture every lap until I was up by the wall. Then I went back to the bottom and was 3 tenths slower than up top where it was still a little damp. Eventually, I had gotten all the initial moisture out of the track from the bottom to the top, and virtually from the inside wall to the outside wall ran almost identical lap times. This will be great for searching for grip and racing.

Oh, but that’s not all. I backed out, set the track state to 100% and went back out. THERE’S A CUSHION!! I couldn’t really see the cushion, as I understand that’s still in development, but boy you sure can feel it! And the grip it provides will make dirt racing on iRacing genuine, authentic and as real as it gets.

I’ve seen a lot of forum posts by people worried by some of the pictures that the late model won’t “get up on the bars.” Well let me tell you, it took some messing around in the garage, but it does. I haven’t found a way to make the car as far up on the bars as I’d like, but maybe that’s another item in development — or for a crew chief way better than me!

I was able to twist the rear end and float the left front – everything you see in pictures of real race cars. I’m telling you guys, I am amazed at what iRacing has done. I am thrilled to be a part of it, to help develop it and I can’ wait to see how much further we can push the envelope in motor sports simulations. This is ground breaking stuff: No other game on the market has even scratched the surface at what these guys have already done with dirt – and it’s getting better every day.

As I understand it there is still quite a bit of work to do but all the hype will be worth it. I can’t wait to turn laps with other cars on the track. Oh, and did I even mention the Ford Fiesta?!?!? No? Well we’ll save that for another day. =)

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