The NTT IndyCar Series has today announced the launch of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge series, a virtual championship that will be held over the course the next few weeks. The news today comes in the wake of many other motorsport championships organising their own sim racing series to fill the void created by the mass cancellations and postponements of real events due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As we have seen from other sim racing alternatives from other series, IndyCar’s iRacing Challenge will see a number of real-world IndyCar drivers go head-to-head on iRacing with the addition of ‘special guests’. The full roster of drivers has yet to be announced, but today’s video teaser of the event included mentions of sixteen drivers. These included Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Patricio O’Ward, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Oliver Askew, Santino Ferrucci, Jack Harvey, Alex Palou, Tony Kanaan, Dalton Kellett, Sage Karam, Felipe Nasr, Scott McLaughlin and Kyle Kaiser.
The six-round series will be held weekly, starting on Saturday, March 28 at 4 PM ET. Each event will last from 90-minutes to two hours and will be streamed live on IndyCar’s YouTube and Facebook pages as well as on iRacing’s Twitch account.
The track choice for the opening race next Saturday will be chosen by the fans in a vote on social media. The second event on Saturday, April 4, will be held at the virtual Barber Motorsports Park. The third event on April 11 will be chosen by the competing drivers, whilst the fourth event on April 18 will be a random draw. The penultimate race on April 25 will be at the virtual Circuit of the Americas, with the finale on May 2 being a non-IndyCar ‘dream’ track.
The teams and drivers entering the races will be able to design their cars to match their real-world cars. Furthermore, IndyCar’s press release mentioned that each virtual car will feature the new-for-2020 Aeroscreen; seemingly confirming that the 2020-spec IndyCars will be available soon on iRacing.
Additional details for the IndyCar iRacing Challenge include that there will not be an overall champion crowned at the end of the six-race series. Instead, IndyCar will make a donation to one of the charities it is partnered with, with the charity likely to be chosen by the winning driver.
Prior to each event, fans will be able to receive ‘virtual autographs’ in a 15-minute session. These have become popular within the motorsport community over the last few weeks, with drivers digitally signing photographs sent to them on social media.
Further details, including the full roster of competing drivers and the track choice for the first race, will be announced during the next week.