Saturday, August 2, 2008

My iRacing: Starting my first full season

At 9PM local time I get my first chance at completing a full season on iRacing. Each season lasts 12 weeks. I'm sure there are hundreds of people waiting for the first race at Lime Rock Park to start.

Right now, I am racing primarily in the Solstice Challenge. Being a rookie (which is an actual rank within the sim) I am not able to change the settings on my car. But, it also makes it a level playing field. The ranking system is quite brilliant. They take into account how clean you race when you first start. You get points for your position at the end of the race on the track, but, there is another rating which is directly related to how safe of a driver you are.

So, there is an hour and ten more minutes to wait until I start my first race of the season. Wish me luck. I will delve deeper into the sim as I get more addicted and definitely post about it over the coming weeks.

iRacing Is The New Poor Man's Track Day

When I first heard about iRacing a few years ago I thought it was going to be one of those vaporware products never destined to see the light of day. Between the time it was announced and the time people actually were able to use it was tremendous. But, it is finally here, and it is incredible.

Though not fully released there are a small number of people who have been invited to participate in the online racing league. Yours truly received an invite a few weeks back and there are another round of invites scheduled to hit inboxes Wednesday, August 6th.

I'm so addicted to this simulation so far that I just cannot leave it alone for a full day. The graphics are spectacular, the racing close, the damage very real, and the participants are very friendly and 99% of them won't give you the finger if you give them a slight nudge on Big Bend at Lime Rock Park.

Over the next couple of weeks I will run down the different features of iRacing, from the web-based console to mixing it up with the Legends at Homestead. Until then, check out and read a bit more about it. I'm off to do some hot laps!

Leasing: How The Manufacturers Tried To Screw You And Screwed Themselves Instead

This week has been bad for the American automakers. Not only are they not able to sell their stale product, they are trying to do it in the middle of a credit crunch. Leases were a great way to go for some individuals given the current financial climate. But, that has now changed.

Cerberus, Chrysler's parent (including Chrysler Financial) and owner of GMAC, has announced that they will no longer be offering automobile leases as of last week. Well, hold on here, what does this actually mean?

Well, for starters, let's discuss how this came about. A lot of lending companies, after making so much money for so many years, are now seeing a high number of defaulted loans, from homes, to cars, to store credit cards and even pay day loans. There is now more risk on the lender's behalf in the current financial climate that they need to take into account.

But, in addition to that, the American companies in particular are having a hard time as their product lines are comprised of a lot of trucks and SUVs. The same trucks and SUVs that get horrible fuel economy that nobody wants anymore. End result: resale values for these large vehicles are now the worst they have ever been when compared to their original selling price.

Chrysler understands this. Their line-up of product includes some very hefty vehicles that aren't that easy on gas. So, nobody wants their vehicles. Add to that the fact that they also build some of the most horrid cars in the small- and midsize-car segment and you end up with Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealers with a lot of inventory and nobody to buy it. Even the used inventory isn't moving.

So, now they will attempt to make purchasing as cheap as leasing. How this turns out, we will just have to wait and see.

Hungary 2008: Hurricane Hamilton

As has been the trend as of late Lewis Hamilton placed his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 on the pole after back-to-back wins in Britain and Germany. Alongside the Brit will be the other McLaren driven by Heikki Kovalainen.

Heikki, however, has vowed to attack his teammate. With McLaren now having the most dominant car on the grid, it should be interesting to see what happens in the first few laps. If everything is done to plan, McLaren will come home with an easy 1-2 at the Hungaroring. But, with Heikki hungry for his own success, we could have a battle on our hands.