A few weeks ago, I made the decision to stop competing in iRacing official races. This left me with leagues and hosted iRacing. I’ve participated in many hosted iRacing sessions in the past, and I’ve also hosted many sessions myself. Having called it quits with official races, I’ve hosted and competed in more hosted sessions than ever.
One thing I always noticed about hosted races is that, as a general rule, they’re filled with cautions. Cautions are boring. It’s nice to have the realism of cautions. It’s nice to have an opportunity to make a pit stop without losing laps. It’s absolutely no fun to poke around behind the pace car for 5 laps out of every 10. I was recently in a hosted race in which there were no more than 2 consecutive laps of green flag racing at any time. That is absolutely no fun at all.
Sometimes there are many cautions in official races, but you don’t see the kind of chaos that you see in hosted races. There are many reasons for this. Some of them are pretty obvious. The root of the problem is that there is far less to lose when you botch a hosted race than there is when you mismanage an official race.
- There are no safety ratings or iRatings associated with hosted sessions.
- You can’t be protested for actions or incidents that take place in hosted sessions.
- If you lose a lap or get a black flag, it’s likely that the host will wave you around the pace car and give you your lap back, and/or clear your black flags.
There is nothing anybody can do about the safety rating or iRating issues. There are no official ratings in hosted races, and it should stay that way. Protests are also for official races, and have no place in hosted sessions. If you have a beef with another driver in a hosted race, you can take it up with the host then and there.
The only issue that we really have control over in hosted sessions is number 3, ‘If you lose a lap or get a black flag, it’s likely that the host will wave you around the pace car and give you your lap back, and/or clear your black flags’.
People are careless in hosted races because there is less to lose. Their careless is further exacerbated by number 3. Let’s face it, if you know you’re going to get a free pass if you go a lap down or get a penalty, you’re going to be far more careless about those things. If you’ve ever raced in any of my hosted sessions, you may have noticed that I don’t clear black flags and I very rarely wave cars around the pace car. I’m not doing that to be mean. I’m doing that to try to make the racing better. My philosophy is that if you know you’re not going to get a free pass, you’ll be more careful and avoid trouble like the plague.
I can already hear some people saying, “But iRacing gives black flags for no reason sometimes.” Nonsense. I can honestly say that I have never been black flagged for no reason. Every time I ever got a black flag on iRacing, I understood the reason for it. I might not have liked it, but I did understand it. When I participate in hosted races, I make every effort to obey the rules so that I don’t get black flagged, and I can’t remember the last time I got black flagged for anything in any kind of session. That’s because I’m careful. Sometimes I get beat by others who speed through the pits or pass other cars before entering the pits, then simply get the host to clear their penalties. Not only does this practice encourage careless racing, it is also patently unfair. So the best practice is to get good at obeying the speed limit in the pits, staying in line before you enter the pits, and staying in line on the starts and restarts. Clearing black flags is somewhere in the proximity of amnesty for cheating. I will never clear black flags in any of my hosted races.
I don’t take such a hard line with wave-arounds. If there aren’t many cars in the race it makes the racing better to have as many as possible on the lead lap, so I will wave lapped cars around the pace car in those circumstances.
Another thing that helps prevent cautions is the single file restart. The cars are more spread out in a single file restart, and many times that alone will prevent the quick caution that often occurs immediately after the restart. Double file restarts were unheard of in oval short track racing and NASCAR until recent years. Promoters got the bright idea of double file restarts when they realized that fans really want to see bumping, banging, wrecking and spinning. No, most fans don’t want to watch cars line up and drive around nose to bumper for 500 miles. Most want to see action. That’s nice for promoters, but that has nothing to do with us as racers/gamers. We want green flag racing, and one way to get more of that is to use the single file restart option that is available when you configure your hosted race.
One more thing worth mentioning is incident points. I recommend them in all hosted races. You can set them high if you want to be lenient, but drivers will be more careful and you’ll have fewer cautions if you set them lower. I’ve seen them as low as 8 points, and as high as 24.
There are other things that hosts or admins can do in hosted sessions to help the racing. If a driver is having problems, sometimes it’s best to give that driver an EOL penalty. You can also black flag a driver. The default action for a black flag is a stop-and-go penalty. You can disqualify a driver. That parks him or her for the remainder of the race. This is really a last resort, as is removal. It’s my opinion that removing a driver for making a mistake or two or three is the height of rudeness. There are certainly grounds for immediate removal, but driver error is not one of them.
All in all, I try to be fair and polite in my hosted sessions. I appreciate those who come to race. I don’t appreciate those who come to play. These are some of my philosophies on hosted iRacing. I welcome your comments.