What has become a staple for the month of May and a yearly tradition for me is the annual running of the iRacing Indy 500. Once a year, iRacers from all over the world gather together on the famed 2.5 mile oval in Indianapolis for their shot at drinking the milk at the end of the day. This would be my 5th running of the race in its 11 year history.
Even though I won the 2015 race, I still get the heebie jeebies (hey, it’s as close as I am going to get to racing in the real thing) leading up to the race. The wekk leading up to the race is filled with practice and qualifying sessions. This year I was running the new aero screen feature on the Indycars this year. Well...
In this race, I need to make my own setup. This is a pretty easy task, for a engineering genius, I am not one. Long story short, I am testing out a setup, found another one on the forums, tried it, learned it was a billion times better and stuck with it. Qualifying was the normal procedure where I go out an lay an egg. I was not going to be racing in the top split.
Race day had arrived. The Team Oppo crew readies the car for the race. We gridded up 11th of the 33 starters. Coming around to see the green flag was pretty run of the mill. The cars began to spread out and we began to feel our way around the competition.
Some people got a little too touchy feely and wrecked each other. This would persist for several laps and before I knew it 1/3 of the field was gone by lap 40. I was nearly included in that mess as I saw the car in front of me suffer some serious understeer and plow into the wall. Had I not seen that coming, I am sure my race would have ended by the 80 mile mark.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), with all of the wrecked car, the field was much smaller than originally started. This yielded a race of epic proportions. The green flag came out with 150 to go, and was out until the checkers.
This would normally be all well and good except for one minor flaw. I noticed with 3 pit stops left in the race that my fuel strategy was off. I was going to be close to 6 laps short. I tried to save, but I knew it was to no avail. I strategized to come in and pit trying to short stint the race. It was about all I had left.
The Team Oppo pit crew did an amazing job throughout the whole race. Unfortunately, the crew member behind the wheel is an idiot and sped on pit road entry. I locked up the front wheels and slid through the first segment. The resultant 40 second penalty took us out of contention for a Top 5 finish.
However, we bounced back, made it to the end, and brought the Team Oppo Indycar Special home 7th place. The iRacing Indy 500 is an absolutely amazing event. It brings the look and feel of the marquee race, even if you are not competing in the highest of splits. There is a prominence to winning no matter the race (or split) The hype and draw of the virtual/esports Indy 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans, or the Bathurst 1000, etc. will live long into the future. I am grateful my name is emblazoned on the virtual Borg Warner, but I can’t wait until next year for the opportunity to have it appear again.
I also tried to stream my race. It went almost as bad as my pit strategy. (it only goes to Lap 72, as my graphics card began melting down. Shutting the recording software saved my computer from meltdown.)