iRacing may be the World of Warcraft for obsessive racing geeks, but that doesn't mean it's not a fine game. The Boston-area company will release version 2.0 this August, having upgraded the graphics, aero and tire modeling. Red mist, meet basement.
Now in its second season fielding a NASCAR-branded gaming series, iRacing is a serious vid. Two years ago, I got a tour of the company's HQ in Boston's Route 128 tech corridor, and played a few rounds on its in-house systems. Development stressed realism over ease of play, so the learning curve's just a little flatter than that of, say, a flight simulator — though you can still jump in and hack away. Racetracks have been laser-scanned down to the millimeter — you can feel every bump, imperfection and camber change — especially on a complex course like Barber Motorsports Park.
iRacing's's also about well-managed league racing that sorts out the trolling assholes and rewards serious racers. And while NASCAR, which signed on in 2010, is the focus of the company's marketing, it's not just about stock-car racing. Sports-car and open-wheel geeks are welcome. VW has even used iRacing to screen drivers vying for a spot in the erstwhile TDI Cup.
Also, pretty much everyone in the company has raced in some manner, and count pros like Jacques Villeneuve, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and A. J. Allmendinger among members.
The only thing keeping me from building a system and joining up is that I will never get another thing done ever.