Much like its counterparts at Formula 1, NASCAR, and IMSA, IndyCar will be replacing its coronavirus-affected calendar dates with virtual races. As such, the American open-wheel series is set to run its first official iRacing sim event on Saturday, March 28 at a track selected by the fans. Each race will feature stacked entry lists with real IndyCar drivers and be streamed online, lasting between 90 minutes and two hours.
What’s more, there will be six IndyCar iRacing Challenge events in total, the last of which is planned for May 2. With any luck at all, the traditional Month of May festivities will still take place at the real-life Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though the outlook isn’t bright at the moment. Roger Penske has explained that he’s currently evaluating the situation and will continue to make decisions as the COVID-19 situation develops. Regardless, the half-dozen esports contests leading up to the Indianapolis Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 will take place remotely, but with real-deal fan experiences.
IndyCar will host a 15-minute virtual autograph session, similar to what’s being spread across racing Twitter right now, ahead of each event. Race winners will also take part in live interviews with reporter Katie Hargitt after crossing the finish line, just like they would if they were at the track.
Following the first race, the IndyCar iRacing Challenge will visit Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25), and a non-IndyCar “dream” track (May 2). Fans can cast their vote for the kick-off race’s location between now and Thursday with a 12-hour window kicking off daily at 10 a.m.
Competitors will take part in a qualifying session ahead of every contest, filling out a nearly full race-day schedule. They’ll all take place at 3:15 p.m. EST each Saturday between now and May 2, with races beginning at 4 p.m. IndyCar.com will stand as the main site to view these streams, though they’ll also be broadcasted to the series’ YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as the official iRacing Twitch account.
Drivers will be able to customize their cars’ liveries to reflect that of their real rides or preferences, and as part of the sim series, the Dallara Indy cars will be fitted with Aeroscreen cockpit safety devices that are slated to debut in the flesh this season.
An overall champion won’t be crowned for the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, though IndyCar will make a donation to one of its partner charities at the series’ end.
The official entry lists, as well as the voter-selected first track, will be revealed next week.