The Open-Wheels 500 Mile Race began as an idea in June 2019 by Open-Wheels.com owner and editor Tanner Watkins – to serve the sim racing community and provide an experience that matched the intensity and excitement of the Memorial Day “500.”
Watkins, a longtime sim racing advocate and participant in the iRacing Indianapolis 500, began work in short order to establish the framework of the race before announcing to the public. By the end of the month, a dream became reality as the inaugural Open-Wheels 500 was announced on June 24 – to be held on Sunday, November 17.
The event was hailed as a resounding success, earning more than 100 worldwide entries while being hailed by many as the most professionally-executed “500” in iRacing history. Italian driver Michele Costantini was hailed the victor, commemorating his win with a custom-etched milk bottle shipped direct to Italy.
In year two, amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the race grew in stature and participation. The entry list reached 112 drivers – with increases in international participation and airtime on RaceSpot TV, the world’s leading sim racing broadcast network – bringing the best talent the iRacing open-wheel community has to offer. Again the race was highly competitive with few accidents, as this time it was Swedish driver Hugo Olsson besting his American teammate Adam Blocker to the finish line to win.
Looking ahead, the Open-Wheels 500 strives to deliver on the same goals originally drawn up in the summer of 2019: to provide a world-class event through professionalism, attention to detail, authenticity, and passion. We aim to continue to grow the event internationally and domestically through strategic partnerships and promotion, while continuing to serve the sim racing community.