Robert Wickens believes he has received what he needed to participate in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge – a simulator with hand controls -- but the steering wheel didn't arrive in time to compete in the opening race, the American Red Cross Grand Prix.
Therefore, Wickens will prepare for the next INDYCAR iRacing Challenge, held Saturday, April 4 at 4 p.m. from Barber Motorsports Park.
According to a story posted Friday on RACER.com, Cary and Todd Bettenhausen, the twin sons of longtime Indy car racer Gary Bettenhausen, have helped Wickens get the necessary equipment he has been lacking. Todd designs simulator hardware for SimXperience while Cary operates Indy Simulation at PitFit, an Indianapolis training facility used by Wickens and many other NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers.
“I got a call a couple days ago from Robert, and he said he’d be interested in driving our simulator,” Cary told RACER.com. “So, I got my brother on the line, and we’ve been thrashing to get things ready and received a lot of help to make this thing happen.”
The Bettenhausens converted the iRacing rig from foot to hand controls. Former driver Max Papis provided a steering wheel from his business, and Steve Fusek, who is Takuma Sato’s agent and proprietor of Indy’s only downtown hardware store, loaned the motor to power the steering wheel.
“It’s cool how everyone is chipping in to help but it’s not surprising because Robby is such a great guy and this is going to be fun for him,” Todd told RACER.com. “I don’t think he has as much experience on a simulator as some of the guys, but the race is going to be a fixed setup for everyone, so it will be more like an IROC race where all the cars have similar performance potential.”
The virtual racing events of approximately 75 minutes began at Watkins Glen International with Sage Karam winning. The event is available for replay on INDYCAR.com for fans to enjoy. Future events also will be on INDYCAR.com live as well as on INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook channels and iRacing’s Twitch.
The field includes NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan along with four Indianapolis 500 winners. Collectively, the field has registered 140 series victories.
If that wasn’t enough talent, a driver with a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series crowns – Jimmie Johnson – has joined the virtual event as a “special guest” entrant. Johnson finished 16th in his first INDYCAR race of any kind.
The opening event will be followed by others at Barber Motorsports Park (April 4), a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), a “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).
Fans of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES also will be able to participate in the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge through the INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone game, which is accessible within the NTT INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA.
The game established for the actual season has a re-imagined interface for 2020. Players select four-driver teams within a $100 weekly salary. Click the link for more information: Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone