iRacing Filling the Gaps in Aerodynamic Performance

iRacing Works with TotalSim to Bring Realism to Virtual Racing

The Situation:

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, sports around the world came to a complete stop.  Of course, motorsports was no exception canceling or postponing events throughout the Spring and early Summer.  However it didn’t take long before several racing organizations partnered with iRacing to hold invitational pro racing virtual events that were broadcasted live nationally. These iRacing events, eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series, IndyCar iRacing Challenge, IMSA virtual Sebring SuperSaturday and F1 races became the most-watched eSports events in United States television history.

If you are unfamiliar, iRacing is a racing simulation game which is based on real life vehicles and tracks and uses actual vehicle performance to inform the vehicle behavior in the “game”. In order to make virtual racing as realistic as possible, iRacing must evaluate the behaviors of real life vehicles and then define the same behaviors on their virtual vehicles.

Client Challenge:

Accurate aerodynamic data is important to creating realistic iRacing vehicles. All of these vehicles and race tracks are professionally scanned by iRacing; therefore, making these “virtual” vehicles and tracks realistic. Racing teams and vehicle manufacturers are not always able to provide iRacing with complete data at all race conditions which leaves a gap that needs to be filled. Since these vehicles are digitally scanned to create the virtual car, it is a perfect scenario to obtain aerodynamic data by using CFD as a “virtual wind tunnel.”  Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD*) is this virtual wind tunnel and is a tool that can be used to create a full data map of aerodynamic performance and can return the needed large number of simulations in a relatively short period of time.

Type of TotalSim Engagement:

iRacing has nearly a ten year relationship with TotalSim having utilized TotalSim’s CFD consulting services over the years to generate and fill the gaps in performance data for multiple iRacing vehicles. TotalSim’s advantage is its use of license free OpenFOAM® for analysis allowing multiple simulations to be completed simultaneously without costly licensing fees and its set of tools for pre- and post-processing data which is leveraged to quickly create data sets from the CFD output.

What TotalSim did:

TotalSim most recently worked with iRacing to develop an aerodynamic mapping plan for two new vehicles that covered all the different ride heights, yaw (wind) angles, pitch angles, roll angles, and front and rear wing angles. This plan covered all the aerodynamic behaviors for the different vehicle configurations available in the iRacing application.  Then TotalSim executed the plan and provided the results to iRacing and these results were used to create a virtual copy of the actual vehicle for use in the iRacing simulation.


The most recent aerodynamic data was generated for two different vehicles released to the iRacing simulation in June 2020. The accuracy of the CFD was noted by the iRacing team as they were excited that a rear wing stall on one of the vehicles was well predicted and mirrored what happens on the real life vehicle under racing conditions.  Accurate CFD simulation is important because the goal is to make the simulated racing as close to real life as possible.

The power of using CFD as a virtual wind tunnel to inform the iRacing (or other simulation) environment has many implications.  Vintage cars that were on track prior to wind tunnel or CFD testing can now be evaluated to give accurate aerodynamic performance maps.  Additionally, features like how vehicles behave when interacting with other cars or near track walls can also be evaluated and incorporated into the simulation.  These complex interactions are difficult to measure  on the real car making CFD, the virtual wind tunnel, an ideal tool to predict these behaviors.  TotalSim is excited to see how more and more, platforms like iRacing are blurring the lines between simulation and reality.

Learn more about the ways TotalSim can help you overcome your aerodynamic challenges

*What is CFD?

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses computer numerical analysis and data structures to analyze and solve problems that involve fluid flows, typically solved on large supercomputers. Fluid mechanics plays a significant role in the engineering process when developing new designs. Analyzing the aerodynamic and thermal qualities of a product using experimentation is a well-established approach however experimentation can be costly, limiting, time-consuming, and difficult to execute especially on a large scale. Progression of computing power has allowed the field of CFD to prosper acting as a complement to physical testing and in some cases replacing it. CFD is the science of predicting fluid flow, heat transfer, mass transfer, chemical reactions, and other flow properties by solving governing fluid flow equations using numerical methods. Across the industry, CFD is routinely used to drive product development, troubleshoot issues, study and optimize new designs and concepts, and map performance. CFD methods are heavily used across many disciplines with motorsports being a leading proponent.

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