By: Spencer Neff
November 3, 2020
During the past eight months, esports has become an increasing part of the overall landscape throughout the world.
Among the many sports leagues to embrace this new platforms was the NTT INDYCAR Series. On March 26th, the series began a six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge, using the popular racing simulation iRacing, which has been in service since 2008.
During that time, the platform has been used by drivers from all sot every racing discipline, with the site featuring series from stock cars to short-course off road trucks.
During their six-race calendar, stars from Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch of NASCAR to Formula 1’s Lando Norris participated, with Norris even winning the Circuit of the Americas. When all was said and done,Australian V8 Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin. rode his two wins to a season championship while awaiting his IndyCar debut.
Open-Wheels provides new twist on traditions of IMS
Last year, Tanner Watkins, Owener/Editor of Open-Wheels.com, began the Open-Wheels 500-mile Race, which utilizes iRacing to host a simulation of the Indianapolis 500.
For this year, Watkins has returned many of the sponsors from last year’s events, including presenting sponsor Mitchell Transmissions of Newburgh, Indiana and Pit Lane Parley, a popular IndyCar podcast, who sponsors the pole award.
This year, Watkins even added Chevrolet and Honda to be recognized as official engine manufacturers.
“On behalf of the staff at Open-Wheels, it is extremely exciting to begin planning our 2020 edition of the 500 Mile Race,” Watkins exclaimed in March when announcing the event’s revival for 2020.
“Our inaugural event in the fall of 2019 was heralded as the most exciting, successful, and competitive ‘500’ that open-wheel sim racing has seen. Through the support of our wonderful sponsors, the worldwide community of sim racers, and the greater open-wheel racing fan base, we look forward to bringing our 2020 race to even greater heights.”
After two weeks of build-up that saw many traditional elements of the month of May, ranging from qualifying drama to the Pit Stop Competition, the first-ever race was run on November 17.
In a thrilling race that saw 51 lead changes, Michele Costantini prevailed to win the inaugural running after starting fourth. For 2020, Costantini and teammate Zac Campbell are two of 110 entrants for the event, up from 104 in 2019.
“I can’t wait for this year’s race,” said Costantini, who drives for Apex Racing Team. “It’s one of the events I’m waiting for with the most excitement. It will be very tough to defend the crown this year because, as we all know, anything can happen in these races, but I still think I have a great shot.”
2020 Event Details
On Sunday, preparations began with an eight-hour practice session. For information on that session, click here.
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will repeat that schedule before two days of qualifying. On November 15, the 200-lap race will begin at 11:45 a.m. Eastern. For a full schedule, click here.
On Thursday, RaceSpot TV will produce a live, one-hour Qualifications Draw Special where drivers will learn of their position in the initial qualifications order that kicks off Saturday’s Pole Day runs. That show will begin at 8:00 PM Eastern on RaceSpot TV’s YouTube page.
The first week all builds into Pole Day on Saturday, November 7. The first run of the day will roll off at approximately 6:10 AM Eastern, and qualifications attempts will be made live throughout the day on Open-Wheels.com/TV (until 5:00 PM) as well as RaceSpot TV (from 5:00 to 5:50 PM).
The Pit Lane Parley Pole Award winner will be crowned at the end of the day on Saturday while the rest of the field sweats their way through one more day of qualifications.
Sunday, November 8 will bring Bump Day – the final 12 hours of first-come, first-served qualifications which will end with the field of 33 drivers being set. The fastest 33 make the show, and again, final hour coverage of Bump Day will be shown live on RaceSpot TV (beginning at 5:00 PM ET) while the rest of day two qualifications can be found at Open-Wheels.com/TV (6:00 AM to 5:00 PM).
With qualifications out of the day, drivers will practice again from 1:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesday (November 10) and Thursday (November 12) before hitting the track for the final time on Saturday, November 14 at 12:30 PM on Open-Wheels.com/TV.
Race day for the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions is Sunday, November 15. The Today at the 500 Pre-Race Show will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern (live on Open-Wheels.com/TV) which will carry all of the traditional ceremonies – such as Taps, the National Anthem, Back Home Again in Indiana, and more! Following the pre-race show is the live, worldwide broadcast of the second annual Open-Wheels 500 on RaceSpot TV – their coverage beginning at 11:30 AM Eastern with a scheduled green flag of 11:45 AM.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for in-depth coverage of the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions, as well as their social media channels for the latest news and updates on this year’s ‘500’.
Header Image By Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com