Mike McKinney on realism of iRacing dirt

Mike McKinney discusses his role in iRacing development

Mike McKinney’s dirt modified is the same dirt modified that’s used in the sim itself. The iRacing staff came to the shop and laser scanned his race car then put it to use digitally.

Beyond that, McKinney was also one of the beta testers to make sure the handling characteristics of the modified were correct. Developed by racers, for racers.

Now, Mike McKinney’s race car also features an iRacing decal.

Mike McKinney 4534
Mike McKinney

“What you see here, is what’s in the game,” Mike McKinney told RacingNews.co. “It’s been a great partnership, for sure.”

“I’m a long time sim racer, that’s what I grew up doing. I didn’t grow up racing go karts. I grew up sim racing. I started racing when I was 16, to that point all I knew was sim racing. That’s where I learned how to race.”

McKinney got his start in a UMP street stock at age 16. He went on to win the UMP National title, just 3 years later. In 2013, he made the move to UMP modifieds.

That’s a modern story with the likes of William Byron and countless others – So, you were definitely on iRacing before the sponsorship then?

“Oh yeah, I’ve been iRacing since 2009. It’s really cool to have this car in the game.”

iRacing dirt modified
iRacing dirt modified

I know it’s by far the best racing game out there. I have no doubt that nothing compares. Mike McKinney is one of the drivers that does the real thing and uses iRacing to boot. He’s a good person to ask…

I want to know, how realistic is it? And don’t bullshit me.

“It’s pretty close,” Mike McKinney explains.

“Even for iRacing, we gave them every measurement and setup they needed. Then, I was one of the beta testers that helped develop it.”

“It’s fairly close. Some of the tires and stuff need a little bit of work. They’re still developing the dirt tracks, as far as how [tires] wear.”

Just ahead of the release of iRacing dirt, they released a brand new tire model. The tire is much more realistic, as far as the characteristics of the tire itself. The only downside, is they haven’t yet figured out the tire wear on the dirt side. Temporarily, there is no tear wear on dirt.

Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals 3081
Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals

“The main thing with sim racing, you just learn the technique of how to race. I kinda pride myself on being able to avoid all the chaos. Especially on a track like the Gateway Dirt Nationals. Guys wrecking and stuff.”

“You kinda learn to look ahead and learn how to race. Then, you learn the race line and stuff like that. It’s a really good tool, especially for young kids coming up. Like me, I had no experience and now I pride myself on being one of the top guys in the country.”

Mike McKinney is the 2016 the UMP Northern Illinois Champion. In the same year he claimed the Kankakee County Speedway track championship and Fairbury American Legion Speedway track championship.

I rabidly jumped on iRacing dirt for a few weeks, right when it came out. My computer couldn’t handle the new update. After 8 years of iRacing, I eventually had to bail due to regular frame skipping. I now have a new computer on the way.

But, when I first jumped on the dirt tracks I found that the easy way to make it turn was to drag the brake and never let completely off the gas getting into the corner. Is that accurate or is that more or less an exploitation of a glitch?

“Oh yeah, trail braking’s huge,” Mike McKinney explains.

Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals 3405
Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals

“Especially when the tracks get slick. The way these cars work on the left rear — You gotta keep them up on the bars. You always see these cars raked up.”

“It just keeps the posture down on the right front and the posture up on the left rear. It keeps traction in the car.”

“You’re always working the gas and the brake to keep your momentum up. You never want the left rear to drop, it unsettles the car.”

iRacing Dirt Modified 4559
iRacing dirt modified driven by Mike McKinney

I’ve only driven more or less of a street stock on dirt tracks in real life, nothing with bars. I wasn’t sure if that was a glitch that’s there to be exploited or if it was accurate. It doesn’t surprise me at all that iRacing got it right.

I say it all the time, if you’re a race fan, iRacing is the ONLY game for you. Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr, Simon Pagenaud, Ron Capps, Rubens Barrichello, Jordan Taylor, Conor Daly, Nick Tandy, Rico Abreu, Sage Karam, Mike McKinney and 100’s more of the real world racers have discovered on the online sensation.

Unlike arcade racing games, on iRacing you’re forced to use your real name. One, this cuts down on he trolling effect. Two, people tend to race cleaner when their real name is attached. Three, you know when you’re racing side by side with a real world superstar.

Are you still playing arcade games? At this point, I really can’t understand why.

Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis 2971
Mike McKinney at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis

Related: Here’s what you need to play iRacing

Related: Tony Stewart cusses out bickering drivers on iRacing

Related: First 3/8 mile track is coming to iRacing


Mike McKinney | iRacing | Shane Walters