With just four more racing weeks to go until the inaugural iRacing.com Pro series completes, where do my feelings lie concerning this pioneering sporting endeavour?
I believe my thoughts put me in a minority here, but I’ve really enjoyed the series as a whole. There were a few areas that could have been handled far better (such as a better schedule) but I definitely subscribed to ‘cracking on with what we’ve got’ and have had some good races to show for it.
At a micro level, the individual races were generally positive. A few of the early races had some more erratic driving (I include myself when I saw this) so had a fair share of 4x hits along the way. But as the season matured the racing became extremely fair and it was pretty amazing to be part of such a fast group of safe drivers. Now each week when I join a Pro race I firmly expect to be able to race side by side with almost anyone on the track, which is something you usually just can’t do.
On a more ‘macro’ level I was disappointed with the community enthusiasm. With 250 eligible drivers, to only get 100 turning up for the early races which quickly fell to < 50 is hugely disappointing. For me, it's been disappointing to watch the majority of the slower drivers (i.e. my direct competition and the drivers I need in the races to give me an even, memorable challenge) drop out in dribs and drabs each week, until we are now at the point where I have just one other person of a similar skill that I race each week. Had we gained participation from 200 of the 250 each week I think the series would have been all the more stronger because of it.
Still, at its heart the sole reason for the iRacing.com Pro series is to establish the top 50 drivers who will move forward to the iRacing Drivers World Championship, starting February 2010. And I think the Pro series has done that perfectly. The Oval series is very tight and competitive, and the Road series probably has around 40-50 names that seem to be interested in putting in the time and effort to race in the iDWC events.
And I am secretly happy that despite my racing each week, I just wasn't good enough to finish in the top 50. As I write this (with four more weeks to go) I need to score at least 250 points in at least TWO of the last four races to somehow get into the top 50, which is just not going to happen. If I was able to sneak into the top 50 merely by my attendance each week it would be to the detriment of the competiton as I'm just not fast enough. So I'm happy that the top 50 does in fact represent a reasonably high level of performance.
I've made the most of my time in the Pro series because I realise that by next May, when the licences are handed out again, I probably won't make the cut - so this first season is really the first and last chance for me. And I've thoroughly enjoyed it!