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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the "live"-racing? dept.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a story about NASCAR scheduling virtual races in iRacing to provide entertainment for fans during the pandemic. NASCAR's virtual racing series ends this weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a track that hasn't hosted a Cup Series race since 1996 and any racing since 2011. North Wilkesboro was one of NASCAR's oldest and most unique tracks, a 0.625 mile short track built on an incline, with an uphill backstretch and downhill frontstretch. The historic track has sat largely abandoned in rural North Carolina since NASCAR left, falling into disrepair and decay. In December, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and many other volunteers cleaned the surface of the race track to allow it to be scanned into iRacing. This 15 minute video shows North Wilkesboro Speedway was cleaned up and describes the laser scanning process used to capture the track surface for iRacing, which is why the story may be of interest for SoylentNews readers. The first race at the virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway is at 3 PM EDT and will be televised on Fox and FS1. For those who cannot watch the race on TV, NASCAR generally streams races on YouTube within a few days of the race.


Original Submission

Related Stories

NASCAR and F1 Launch Virtual Racing Series Amid Shutdown of Most Professional Sports 35 comments

[Ed. note: More and more people are staying home as a result of quarantines and social distancing. Car customization was the high-tech platform for many years. Then came computers where nerds had a different target for things to tweak and optimize. Car racing has perhaps even more followers today than ever before. Given the technical background and underpinnings, and realizing people may be looking for something to do this weekend, I thought to give this story a try. Are there any Soylentils who have any racing experience? --martyb]

Shortly after the US entry into World War 2, President Roosevelt requested that professional baseball continue to be played during the war because of its importance to maintain the morale of the nation. NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed similar sentiment after the almost complete shutdown of professional sports due to the coronavirus outbreak. Formula 1 and NASCAR are already taking steps to resume, though with virtual races instead of cars physically on track.

Last weekend, iRacing and Podium organized the Replacements 100, which was streamed on multiple platforms including YouTube. The drivers included William Byron, whose success in iRacing helped him find the opportunity to drive real race cars, retired fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., and current cup series drivers Bubba Wallace and Alex Bowman. The race was 100 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which was set to host all three of NASCAR's national series last weekend before being postponed.

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  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:23PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:23PM (#992088)

    Who cares?

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:38PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:38PM (#992092)

      Naturally.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:06PM (#992108)

      I do -- since I've worked in both the racing and the sim racing world. The linked 15 minute video about clearing the track before laser scanning was touching, thanks for posting that. Dale Jr. was out there with a weed whacker along with the rest of the clean up crew (or at least the video producers got him to pose at it...).

      No doubt that the target audience for NASCAR fits the stereotype. But, behind the scenes at the real race teams there is a lot of very high level engineering, lab/track testing and computer physics modeling going on before each race. Practice time is limited and if your car isn't set up well when you unload the car off the transporter, you haven't got much chance in the race. Modeling/prediction is going to be an even larger factor than normal for the upcoming real races (starting next week at Darlington) as these first "opening up" events will be all held in one day.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:09PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:09PM (#992110)

      Rough crowd here.

      Like being a journalist at a Trump rally.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:12PM (#992127)

        Or a smart person at a NASCAR event?

  • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:40PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:40PM (#992094)

    This is not "breaking news". It doesn't concern me at all.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:01PM (#992124)

      What do you expect? Fnord666 is a slashdot-level editor. Always has been. Always will be.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:23PM (#992314)

      Ok, so next time we will ask you whether something concerns you before we do it again.

      Self-centered asshole.

  • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:47PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @05:47PM (#992101)

    iRacing seems like the sort of sport that the double-digit IQ NASCAR crowd would enjoy. Fortunately, scientists have just discovered that obesity is a risk factor for COVID-19, so Darwin has come to our rescue.

    • (Score: 0, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:05PM (#992125)

      Well it's not pro-wrestling. So there's that.

  • (Score: 2) by drussell on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:23PM (5 children)

    by drussell (2678) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:23PM (#992114) Journal

    NASCAR should have never abandoned North Wilkesboro speedway originally in the first place, anyway.... Totally counter to the founding principles.

    I've only actually ever managed to make it to one race in person, the fall race in Martinsville.... Being in Canada it tends to be a bit of a slog to actually get to a race.... I've only ever actually been to one NASCAR event, the fall race at Martinsville in, I think it was 1994?

    Rusty Wallace won. We got to walk down through the infield after they opened it long after the race, I walked down through the pits afterwards, both backstretch and front, and talked to several pit crew chiefs... Including Rusty's! The NASCAR tech teams were tearing down their engine to do measurements, etc since he had won. Absolutely amazing!!!! I could have taken home as many used tires as we could carry, but we only had a rental car from down in Raleigh, NC....

    What, gonna have to put them on an airplane somehow?

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @06:50PM (#992121)

      Don't think you can pick up the used tires anymore, Goodyear has them all serial numbered and bar-coded. They don't want other tire companies doing competitive assessment...

      Other than that, it's still pretty much as you described. The teams and drivers are amazingly accessible compared to nearly any other big-time sport.

      From Canada, you might want to attend the summer Watkins Glen race some time--the Finger Lakes part of NY is beautiful and the actual Watkins Glen State Park (21 waterfalls in ~2km of trail) is a very special place. You can also pick up a tourist map of the original 5.2 mile street circuit used in 1948 and drive the roads--very scary to imaging going fast on those roads.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by drussell on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:18PM (1 child)

      by drussell (2678) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:18PM (#992131) Journal

      I think they might have even still had some teams running Hoosier tires at that time, not sure, they might have discontinued them right about that time or maybe just before/after, I honestly don't remember the years, but it was probably right about then..

      Rusty was certainly running the Goodyears, for sure, though, in the fall of '94 when I was there....

      It was really only really ever Jeff Bodine who could ever lap the field on the on the Hoosiers in that era, IIRC.....

      Good times! :)

      ... Personally, my full size Dodge van with the souped-up 360 cid (365 now, it's .030 over) still makes something around 400 HP, but it is difficult to find places to actually play with it, unless I'm driving up through the mountains to our cottage in BC at wide-open-throttle, for no apparent reason... :) That's my favorite... :)

      Probably could use a lubrication festival on the distributor, though, since I'm still running full mechanical dist and carb, no FI. :)

      I need to install the power steering seal kit, though, it's currently leaking PS fluid all over the place in the parking spot... gotta install that kit ASAP now that the weather is OK :)

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @10:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @10:40PM (#992158)

        It was really only really ever Jeff Bodine who could ever lap the field on the on the Hoosiers in that era, IIRC.....

        It sounds like you got lapped when you typed that.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:40PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:40PM (#992319)

      In my recollection, NASCAR got really really trendy in the late 90s and the viewship really went up. NASCAR was everywhere and all the armchair racing fans jumped on board and more and more races were filling the largest stadiums. NASCAR, of course like all sports that get really popular, made tradeoffs to maximize profit at the expense of fan experience (or any other soft concept like "tradition"). They dropped the smaller and more interesting tracks to build and run at huge tracks with 100,000 seats. The problem is that all of those tracks are 1.5-mile ovals. That's it. Just one big, uninteresting oval. It wouldn't be so bad if a few tracks were like that, but now just about all of them are. It is the same damn race over and over. You've narrowed the skillset to the drivers and cars that are optimized to that one specific racing condition. One advantage to this is that it has allowed more drivers and teams to be competitive, and so the series standings is open to more drivers, but it comes at the price of making it boring to see the same thing over and over. The Texas race is exactly the same as the Michigan race except for the commercial lead ins and outs of TV shots of some local scenery.

      Back in the day you had a few very dominant drivers because they were very good all around drivers and had teams who were good at adjusting the cars to match the upcoming racetrack. As far as I'm concerned, if all they want are 1.5 mile ovals, they are better off sticking with iraces.

      My favorite racing series was the IROC (International Race of Champions). They would take drivers from all classes of racing (stock car, Indy car, open wheel, etc.), get a set of identical cars, randomly assign the drivers to a car, then let them race. You really got to see who the better drivers were. Unfortunately that series no longer exists.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @07:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @07:30PM (#992502)

        I agree. The intermediate ovals are particularly bad after a repave, when they basically become single groove tracks. The racing gets better as the surface wears out and becomes rougher. Still, I'd like to see the 1.5 and 2 mile ovals be limited to one race per year. Charlotte can keep its second race, but it's on the roval. Otherwise, Michigan, Kansas, Texas, and Las Vegas should just get one race per year. Pocono doesn't produce great racing either, but at least it's an independently owned track. Running the Indy road course would improve the racing there. In place of those four races, add Iowa (7/8 mile short track), Gateway (slightly smaller version of Darlington), Nashville Fairgrounds (0.596 mile short track), and one other race. I'd love to see North Wilkesboro get fixed up and get one of its races back, but that might be unrealistic. I'd be okay with another road course on the schedule. Montreal hosts F1 and used to have an Xfinity series race. Road Atlanta would be a good choice, too.

        Probably the closest thing you get to IROC now is the Rolex 24, which does attract drivers from a lot of classes of racing. It's in late January on the Daytona road course. They don't use spec cars and there are three or four classes of cars on the course. But there are usually quite a few Indycar drivers, some NASCAR drivers, and occasionally an F1 driver or two. Kyle Busch drove in this year's race. And Fernando Alonso drove last year. It's not the same thing, but I'd bet you could fit in another race on the road course during Speedweeks. And if NASCAR actually does shorten its season, it might be possible to have a couple of races afterward with NASCAR and Indycar drivers. You won't get any F1 drivers because their season runs through the end of December. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing another race during Speedweeks and maybe a second race on Daytona's oval in early November.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:16PM (4 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday May 09 2020, @07:16PM (#992130)

    Virtual racing in a computer game is fantastically boring. Who gives a turkey... However, put real, remote-controlled cars on the track and real drivers behind the wheel and I'll watch that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @08:56PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09 2020, @08:56PM (#992146)

      That's step 1.

      Step 2 is to hook it up to self-driving cars.

      Step 3 ... ???

      Step 4 - let's the games commence!

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday May 09 2020, @10:17PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 09 2020, @10:17PM (#992153) Journal
        You need a points system [youtube.com]. The YouTube documentary describes an adequate point system for remote controlled races in the US circa the year 2000. It probably would need to be updated for the more modern times, technologies, and regional differences. For example, double points for a smart phone user.
      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday May 11 2020, @12:59AM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 11 2020, @12:59AM (#992584) Homepage Journal

        Step 3 is replace the autonomous cars with autonomous marbles.

        Marbula One!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2020, @01:28PM (#992317)

      I don't see a significant difference between the two. Same driver interface, same sensor (or even worse) feedback. Why would this be such a huge difference for you?

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