IndyCar drivers discuss the varying attitudes they have towards iRacing Challenge and sim racing on the whole ahead of their fourth weekend.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the wave of sim racing events to come with it, have brought to light two major attitudes when it comes to virtual racing. First, there are those who take the activity very seriously. Then, there are those who are more relaxed about it.

An example of somebody taking it seriously in IndyCar would be Team Penske’s Will Power in the Barber race, when he was somewhat hostile on the driver chat as he chased down his opponent Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam.

Meanwhile, somebody who is more laid back about the competition would be Andretti’s Alexander Rossi, who has been open about his lack of interest in iRacing. This divide was even apparent from the rhetoric of the drivers in the IndyCar ESports series.

The latest to voice in were Team Penkse’s Josef Newgarden & Helio Castroneves and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon all provided insight into how they approach each IndyCar race. The former detailed his experiences, which were varying in commitment level.

“I think from my side, I went through a rollercoaster of commitment. I didn’t get my sim setup until 24 hours before Watkins Glen,” relayed Newgarden to media including “I crammed in about 12 hours of testing in 24 hours before the race.

“I did okay. Then I got so excited and serious about it, so for Barber I spent the entire week practicing. I mean, I practiced every day for like eight hours. It was out of control. I didn’t have that great of a race, got like three different wrecks for different reasons.

“I got so angry at the thing, I spent four days off of it, didn’t touch it. Only did a couple days before Michigan. I think that is when I learned you have to find a balance with this. You have these sim racers that they spend every day on this for hours and hours.

“I just don’t think you can catch up sim racing that quickly, within a couple weeks. You have to try to find a nice middle ground where you’re not losing your life to this simulation, but you’re prepping enough where you can still have fun in the race.

“I think the ovals have been better for that. At Motegi you haven’t had to do as much practice. It’s not as technical as a road course where the sim is very specific on how you can drive it, what you can get away with on the tires.

“It’s just a lot easier to learn that on the oval on the sim. I think you’ve had to spend less time. I found that middle ground where you can put a lot of practice in and be competitive.” Dixon, meanwhile, laid his plan to up his skills for IndyCar sim races.

He is on the more ‘serious’ side of camp, despite his initial actions when it came to buying a simulator rig. “I ordered my sim with a beer holder,” started Dixon. “I’ve actually had to move past that now because it wasn’t serious enough (laughter).

“Now my next level is I’m working with my wife on my honey do list. Each tick I get, I get an extra 30 minutes on the simulator. I’m actually banking some time this week. I’m looking forward to start getting pretty serious on this game, yeah.”

Castroneves – like Newgarden – was of an opposing view on sim racing, stating that there are many who take this far too earnestly. “I have to say I will try this time not use sandals,” he said. “I’ll probably put a little bit of shoes to see if I’ll be okay.

“But I still have to use shorts, sometimes no shirt, because where my sim is right now is in the garage. Right now it’s 85 degrees in Florida. It’s melting. Other than that I’ll see what happens. I don’t know. Actually I did some races, and man they take too much serious.

“It is like pushing, get out of the way. I will try to have as much fun as possible and hopefully see what happens. But I tell you that, so far, it has been hilarious. Obviously it’s everyone that’s not very familiar with the virtual world, especially with the sim.

“To see everyone exchanging messages, trying to figure it out, it’s more fun than actually driving. Plus we driving a very old car, by the way [in the Legends event I took part]. First race was a 1983, now I think it’s McLaren 1975 or something like that.

“Sim racing is really kind of fun. But the most fun actually is the interaction with everyone. Again, we just trying to keep ourselves busy, no question. Now it’s been very interesting this whole new virtual world that I’m getting myself into it.”

Here’s Marcus Ericsson talking IndyCar and more

Here’s Robert Wickens on using F1 sim experience

Here’s how Round 3 of iRacing IndyCar Challenge went

Here’s Scott McLaughlin to race in real world