IMSA iRacing Pro Series

Racing action. [Porsche Motorsports Photo]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

As we sit at home, socially distancing ourselves from friends and family and trying not to go totally nuts, we have become desperate for a connection to our passion in life: motorsports.

Having consumed all the available media we have, from our DVD copies of “Le Mans”, “Grand Prix” and “Ford v Ferrari”, to the Netflix documentaries on Carroll Shelby and Fangio (and everything in between), we were pleased to come across IMSA’s answer to the shutdown – the IMSA iRacing series.

The first event was held at (virtual) Sebring and yesterday’s event was held (virtually) at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Frankly, both were somewhat entertaining, with excellent graphics, in car racing action, participation by regular IMSA drivers and most importantly the superb commentary by the Radio Le Mans team led by John Hindhaugh and Jeremy Shaw.

We even found ourselves getting caught up in the on-track action, yelling at the computer screen, rooting on our favorites, complaining about backmarkers blocking the track – you know, just like real life.

Of course, the IMSA iRacing Pro Series is not real life and while it is a nice diversion in these troubling times, we yearn for the time we can get back to normal and actually go to the race track, see and talk to our racing friends and experience racing as it should be experienced – live and in person, with all the sounds and smells associated with our great sport.

In the meantime, hats off to IMSA and the iRacing Pro Series for creating a pretty cool substitute to real racing. Bruno Sprengler piloted his (virtual) BMW M8 GTE to victory at both Sebring and Laguna Seca, and finds himself atop the championship standings.

As Bruno said: “It was never boring. It was a very interesting race. There was quite a lot of preparation on the team’s side. We’d just see how close the lap times were and qualifying was amazing. The lap times were so close. People were driving on the edge. There was so much traffic out there, which almost cost me the victory because I was leading the race, and I think in Turn 5, a car came back on the track out of nowhere pretty much, and I had to brake massively to avoid him and then I lost the lead.”

Sounds like the BMW team is taking this all pretty seriously. “There was quite a lot of preparation on the team’s side’? Perhaps they are taking it a bit too seriously, but then again, the morning after the race we received an email from Porsche complete with photos of the action on the (virtual) track and quotes from the drivers.

The IMSA iRacing Pro Series season continues with (virtual) Mid-Ohio on Thursday, April 30, followed by (virtual) Road America on May 14, then (virtual) VIR on May 28 and finally (virtual) Watkins Glen on May 28.

Unless IMSA imposes some (virtual) BoP on BMW, it looks like they will likely dominate the rest of the iRacing Pro Racing season.

Here’s hoping we can get back to real motorsports as soon as possible, but until that happens we will certainly continue to enjoy IMSA iRacing Pro Racing.

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