iRacing Driver Swaps Exclusive First Look

We have been fortunate enough to have an exclusive first look at a new feature in iRacing that I have been very eager to try out and see it come to fruition. It’s the iRacing Driver Swap functionality. Before I get into what iRacing is implementing, I’d like to discuss the history of driver swaps in sim racing and I also want to mention that driver swap endurance racing is by far the most fun I have ever had sim racing. It takes things to another level in regards to pressure because you are representing a team and not just yourself. You have pressure to bring that car back to the pits for a swap and then to finish a race as a team. One of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had in sim racing is finishing an endurance race, even if it’s not on the lead lap.

If you didn’t know or are new to the sim racing scene, driver swaps have been around for a long time. From what I can find and recall, the first ever true endurance race with driver swaps took place in 2003 and it was run by a site called “The US Pits“. It was a race that they were running annually up until just last year and it’s called the Bullrun 1000. It was run with Nascar 2003 and mod they had created called TPTCC that was based on the Trans Am mod.

I actually ran in that first driver swap race in 2003 although I don’t think my old friend Gilles Mourette and I actually got to the driver swap portion. Here’s a link to the final standings and as you can see, we didn’t make it very far. The way you would actually do the driver swaps was by pulling the plug on your connection and then your teammate would join the server using the same name and car file and basically take over for you. Someone actually came up with a program where you could press CTRL / ALT and END at the same time to kick you from NR2003 fairly quickly. Here’s a link to a video recap of that race as well.

I’ve included another Bullrun 1000 video from rFactor back in 2010

Not long after that historic race, I put together an endurance race  through a series that I owned and ran called SSCA. We ran a 6 hour race at Daytona and since we couldn’t do timed races in NR2003, we ran 200 laps instead. One class of cars , 25 teams and actually 16 finished the race. My team did a little bit better in that race and we finished 7th although we were 7 laps down, we had a blast just bringing the car home.  Boy those were the days. It’s really amazing how far sim racing has come.

Between 2003 and now, there have been a few other ways to endurance race. rFactor had a method where you could actually swap drivers, but it was buggy and if you lost connection, that was it, race over.

We continued to try to make it work, but got frustrated and eventually gave up on the series.

This is a recap from a race we had at Silverstone

Here’s some footage that Torrent Motorsports posted from our last event at Fuji which was 10 hours.

Live For Speed has a way to do it and it works quite well, but that sim as a lot of you may know was not developed to it’s potential and there weren’t many real cars or tracks to run the enduros on. I think they still have some endurance races on that platform, but LFS has fallen by the wayside and isn’t even discussed in the same sentence as most of the current titles available

And now, iRacing has stepped up to the plate and are on track to implement driver swaps in the next build (October 2014) if the development stays on the pace they are on. Most everything is coded and implemented in the Alpha build of iRacing with mostly cosmetic changes to make before the 4th quarter build is released. William Marsh who blogs for Inside Sim Racing on a daily basis and I have had a chance to run some driver swap races the last few weeks with some Alpha testers and some members of the iRacing staff and I have to say, it’s going to be AWESOME !

For starters, joining a race as a team entering the server and then making swaps is very easy. First up you join with your team or create one that others can join. You can make your team open to the public or closed to specific teammates.  The team owners paint scheme is the one that will be used during the race.

Teams can have a minimum of 2 drivers and a max of 7. There will be official season races and you can also host sessions as well. Official races will have certain rule sets like % of laps run by each driver minimums and things like that. In hosted sessions you will be able to tailor those rules the way you want.

Then you join the race and swaps are very simple. The starting driver enter the teams pit stall, exits the car by hitting escape and the next driver takes over. There’s also a 30 second penalty of sorts for each driver swap to simulate how long it takes to make the transition.

While I was running a race at Donington with William, I read this info that’s posted in the User Interface while running as a team. Here’s what it says..

info full

While talking to Tony Gardner  of iRacing about driver swaps, I also found out a few more tidbits.

Up to 24 Hour races can be run.

During an endurance race you can leave team race and run a series race or hosted race and then come back and join the team later if it’s lets say a 24 hour race.

People have been asking us about a special event like we’ve run in the past like the 120 Minutes of Thunder.. Well, I got confirmation from Tony Gardner that Inside Sim Racing in conjunction with iRacing will host the first official endurance race that will be a special event. Official meaning safety rating and iRating will be on the line. There will also be a series running driver swaps, but this will be run separately. We may do 12 hours, or 24 and we’re not sure about the car and track combo yet. I’m personally leaning towards a Daytona Road Course event with the HPD as one class and then a GT3 car but I want to hear from you out there about what you would like to do. Go here to our forums to give us your opinion: CLICK HERE

In closing.. They’re really thought about a lot of the features needed to make this a seamless interaction and we’re very much looking forward to it. I’m sure I left a lot out and if you have any questions about driver swaps, I’ll be happy to answer them .