Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
Contact Adam: Email
Sage Karam will be settling into the seat of his No. 24 DRR Wix Filters Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing on Saturday, but it will be in the comfort of his own home.
Karam will be among the large contingent of NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers taking part in the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, which will be a virtual race among the series' best. Saturday's event will begin at 4 p.m. ET and be streamed through INDYCAR.com for fans to enjoy the action. It also will be available on INDYCAR's YouTube and Facebook as well as iRacing's Twitch.
The experience and expectations will be widely varied among the series athletes participating, and Karam would fall into the veteran category with high expectations. He owns some of the best equipment, practices on his personal computer almost daily in his home in Nazareth, Pa., and is a member of an actual simulation team. Through iRacing, which organizes, hosts and officiates online racing on virtual tracks around the world, Karam gets to hone his skills against some of the top gamers.
Most NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers own proper gaming equipment, but they use iRacing to varying degrees. Some drivers are more active than others, which means their skill sets vary.
Given his experience in iRacing, Karam was asked what should we expect in Saturday's INDYCAR iRacing Challenge debut event. The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge will run weekly on Saturdays at 4 p.m. ET through May 2.
How serious are NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers about sim racing on their personal computers?
"I'd say about 30 percent are into sim racing and about 15 percent are religious about it. If you've jumped in an actual simulator (as professional drivers have) and know how to drive a race car like we do, there's a pretty decent chance you're going to be competitive."
What level of equipment does an INDYCAR driver need to be competitive Saturday?
"Honestly, if they've got a decent computer that can run the software they should be fine. Anyone who is serious has good stuff. Like, I've got a pretty good set of pedals that I can calibrate to my liking - I like it to feel how hard you have to hit the brakes in an Indy car to stop it. But it's like anything else, it can get expensive. When I started, I had a (combined) pedal and steering wheel unit that cost me $300. Now, my pedals alone cost $1,500, and I have three monitors. It can get pretty crazy, like racing does."
Is the sensation similar to driving on an actual track?
"You're feeling the strength it takes to drive an actual car, but you're not feeling the little details - that feeling in your butt or feeling when the car bottoms out or loses traction or slides. You don't get those little details. But it's pretty close in a lot of ways."
Would you rather virtually race on a road course or an oval?
"I think a road course puts on a better show; it would go a lot smoother and be a better show than an oval. When you're on a simulator you have no fear of getting hurt, so on an oval you're not scared to make a mistake. You can make it three-wide going into a corner where you'd never do that in real life and if you wreck it's like ... 'OK.' So, on a road course there are a lot fewer yellows and that makes for a better show."
Everyone in this race will have the same car setup, which takes away some of the advantage you might have as an experienced sim racer. Is that the best way?
"Yes. We want this to be a competitive race. With open setups, I would do better, for sure. But for fairness, this is the best thing for everyone -- and the fans."
Obviously, large gatherings have been shuttered for the next several weeks. Do you find a simulated race to be a good alternative for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its fans?
"We all know why we can't (gather in large groups). We're the only sport that can do something like this. It's a win-win for all of us. It gives us something to compete in, and it's cool for the fans. It's a pretty good solution with everything that's going on."
Competitors representing all three levels of the world’s leading driver development platform will return to racing virtually this week when the Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries kicks off a five-race schedule on Saturday, March 28. The green flag for the 45-minute race is set for 1:04 pm EDT and is a precursor to the debut of the six-race INDYCAR iRacing Challenge scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturdays.
Headlined by Ricmotech Racing Simulators – a leader in high performance sim racing equipment – and administered by Xtrememotorsports, drivers will contest five road course events beginning with Barber Motorsports Park and followed each subsequent Saturday by Circuit of The Americas, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Formula 1 Grand Prix Circuit), Road America and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Road to Indy TV, the broadcast production arm of the Road to Indy, will also be involved in the show’s content and supporting graphics, which continues a busy week for the Florida-based group as the new Road to Indy TV live roundtable “Off the Grid” will debut this Friday at 1:00 pm EDT featuring Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires drivers Kyle Kirkwood, Robert Megennis and Rasmus Lindh via Skype.
A total of 30 Road to Indy drivers will mix it up with a few veterans as four team owners and former drivers have entered the fray including Ricardo Juncos of Juncos Racing, David Martinez of DEForce Racing, Peter Dempsey of Turn 3 Motorsport and Louis Meyer, great grandson of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer, of Legacy Autosport. [Click here for entry list.]
Rob Howden, the Official Voice of the Road to Indy, will lead the eSeries race commentary, which will mirror an actual race weekend with pre- and post-race ceremonies. A 15-minute qualifying session will be held just prior to the race with drivers chasing bragging rights and the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs Pole Position Award.
All competitors will be racing for a cause as all registration fees to enter will be donated into a fund to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Utilizing the current Road to Indy points system, a champion will be crowned who will direct the distribution of the money raised to a good cause.
Fans can follow the weekly action on a series of outlets including the Road to Indy TV website and App, ApexRacingTV’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the iRacing eSports Network and the series’ respective Facebook platforms. In addition, live coverage will be carried by MAVTV Canada, which will be airing all Indy Lights races live in 2020 when the series returns to action as well as Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship highlight shows.
Sean Rayhall. Image courtesy of All Good Kelly
The management team of Laguna Seca Recreation Area and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is working with series, guests, track renters, community leaders, local authorities and county officials to safely serve their needs while continuing to prepare for the season events. Therefore, the team wishes to give a general update about the premier events and other happenings.
“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the well-being of associates, and all those who enter the Laguna Seca Recreation Area,” explained John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “We continue our planning of the events, working with our partners and community to ensure that when California officials lift the shelter in place order and everyone is healthy and safe, we haven’t missed a step.”
To date, there have been two schedule changes to the 2020 race events calendar. Trans Am SpeedFest has been postponed and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has moved up one week to Labor Day weekend to allow greater separation from the rescheduled 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. All other events are currently proceeding as planned:
July 10-12 – MotoAmerica Superbike SpeedFest at Monterey
July 23-26 – Ferrari Challenge Series
August 8-9 – Monterey Pre-Reunion
August 13-16 – Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
September 4-6 – Monterey SportsCar Championship
September 18-20 – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
October 1-4 – Sea Otter Classic *Special Event*
TBD – Trans Am SpeedFest
The management team is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to engaging guests and bringing business back to the Monterey Peninsula by hosting these international events. The economic impact generated by these major races is significant for the tourism industry, as well as for surrounding communities.
Recently, the campgrounds have been closed. Campers who are already here observing shelter-in-place regulations can stay through their reservation as long as payment is current. Walking and biking trails are open for day use, during the limited hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The race track and paddock are typically rented every available day of the year. During this time, however, many clubs and organizations have suspended their March and April dates resulting in increased demand for rescheduling dates after the Summer premier events.
As a result of rescheduling renters, the track repaving project that was originally planned for September and October has been postponed in order to accommodate our valued renters, guests and local businesses.
While the April dates for Cars & Coffee and Twilight Cycling have been canceled, we are looking ahead to future Twilight Cycling and Cars & Coffee dates for these community events.
Additional camping, park and event updates will be announced as they become available.