SimRacing has seen an undeniable boom over the past few years. The growth of the discipline is noticeable in streaming platforms, increased choice in hardware and league sign-ups as well – which is something IVRA is has experienced first-hand: The iRacing league has hit record numbers ahead of its upcoming season – SRU Editor Yannik Haustein has sat down with Pascal Radschun and Casper de Kort, two of the driving forces behind IVRA, to talk about this unprecedented growth.
Offering three multi-class series, IVRA is serving different skill levels of SimRacers. Set to get underway in October, the league has received sign-ups from more than 340 teams with 1205 drivers. Even before that, “we have announced a title sponsor for each series now, which is really great”, IVRA organizer Radschun is pleased.
Having started in 2020, IVRA quickly became one of the bigger iRacing series. “We started with a summer series to give people something to do in the first year of COVID”, remembers IVRA founder de Kort. The roots of the series go back to “2013 or 2014. We started out as DGFX, which has morphed into the IVRA Endurance Series”, explains de Kort. The Clubsport series started in 2018 under that banner, “and we thought DGFX needed a bit of a rebrand, so IVRA started. That is when the organization started to grow into what it is now.”
The growth has been significant ever since. De Kort continues: “It used to be groups of friends who had a hobby of going racing on the weekend, but now, especially in the higher series, we are seeing teams like BS+ Team Turner entering, which are linked to a real race team. That is really cool to see.”
An important factor for this is that IVRA tries to feel the pulse of the community. “It is important that we are not just a bright star that fades away quickly. We try to engage with feedback, and as soon as there is a major problem, or problems in general, we talk to the teams and the humans behind the simulation”, says Radschun. “On race days, we acknowledge that there are people behind the cars and that they spend multiple hours to practice for the race.”
This close way of working with the competitors ensures longevity, believes Radschun: “If you create an organization that is just around for money, and you give out the money, all the drivers are gone again, you are not going to stay around for long.” As things stand, this is not something IVRA needs to be worried about – quite the contrary: Due to de Kort working for Creventic and organizing the 24H Series Esports championship, a partnership has formed between the two series and the real 24H Series as well.
As a result, doing well in IVRA can be rewarded with grid spots for the 24H Series Esports season, and tickets to real 24H Series events are on the line as well. “Especially with Creventic, as there is a real series there, we a re always looking for ways to try to bring SimRacers to the real race, whether that is with tickets as a fan, or bringing them to the track not just as a fan”, de Kort emphasizes. “We are working on something in that regard, but I cannot say more for now.”
Could this mean a possible chance for SimRacers to get a cockpit in a real car is on the horizon? The link between SimRacing and motorsports is growing, and that is something de Kort knows as well. “For some people, SimRacing will be the first step towards a motorsports career in the future. To make that step, you still need money, though – that is the unfortunate reality of how expensive real racing is.” However, SimRacing could be able to help in this regard as well, as de Kort believes: “You still need connections, of course you need the talent, but it is definitely a new breeding ground for talent. It does open up a new environment for people to find that money, to find partners and sponsors that otherwise would not see their connection to motorsports.”
Interestingly, it does go the other way around as well. “This past season, we had simulators in the paddocks at races. They were not there to be sold to fans, but to drivers to train, to help them with telemetry analysis and coaching”, says de Kort. “There are only a few professional drivers in the 24H Series paddock, most of them are amateurs. Once they understand what they can get from a simulator, they can really benefit from using sims as ways to train – and also just racing and having fun.”
On the iRacing side of things, the new IVRA season is set to kick off on October 15th with the ClubSport Series 700km of Fuji. The top-tier Endurance Series takes the green flag for the first time on October 29th with their 1000 miles of Road America event, and a day later, the GT Sprint Series starts its season at the Nürburgring. To find all the info on IVRA and its series, head over to their official website.