IndyCar Series


posted 10/16/2003 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PC
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In 1994, recognizing that rather than be satisfied with a small slice of the American Open Wheel Racing pie (Indy cars), Tony George (the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, annual host of the world famous Indianapolis 500) could own the entire pie by creating his own racing league centered around that race. This league was visualized as being "Open wheel NASCAR." That is to say, it would be primarily American drivers, driving American cars, powered by American engines, on American high-banked and flat oval tracks. And, as an added bonus, Tony saw this as the means to killing off CART, an organization that had regularly treated him with disdain, by taking away the Crown Jewel of their season, the Indy 500. This would be similar to NASCAR losing the Daytona 500, Major League Baseball losing the World Series, or Sonny losing Cher. Thus the Indy Racing League (IRL) was conceived and born.

Almost ten years after the IRL's first race in 1996, it appears that the idea has been successful, albeit with a strong contingent of foreign drivers imported from the former Indycar series (CART) diluting some of the intended All-American flavor of the series. The IRL, like NASCAR, provides side-by-side, nail-biting oval track racing, with the gap between the 1st and 2nd place finishers often being less than one-hundredth of a second. As a measure of Tony's success, it has been years since a developer has invested the time and money in creating a modern CART simulation, while Codemasters has recently released the PC version of IndyCar Series, their new IRL simulator. Previously released were the PlayStation2 and Xbox versions.

There are those that believe that going to an all-oval format, thus removing road courses from the schedule, resulted in a weak, pale copy of CART. Many contend that the full measure of a driver can only be ascertained by challenging them with a wide variety of racing styles. There are also those that believe that trying to do an ambitious simulation like this for both the PC and consoles will result in a lackluster, lowest-common-denominator approach. Codemasters has gone a long way towards proving them right with IndyCar Series. It is impossible to know whether the PC product would have been done better had the PC platform been the sole and primary target, but one can't help feeling that the entire product was dumbed-down to better fit the console market. Face it, when it comes to things like this, the target audiences are significantly different when comparing console gamers to PC gamers. As an indication, almost every PC racer will stress that they want 'simulations,' not 'games.' They will correct you if you refer to a product such as EA Sports F1 Challenge as a 'racing game' – it is a ‘racing simulator.’
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