Tanner Watkins to step down after 5 years with Open-Wheels, Arjuna Kankipati will take the helm for the 3rd running of the Open-Wheels 500

FEBRUARY 25, 2022 – After leading the first two editions of the Open-Wheels 500 Mile Race, Tanner Watkins will soon transition from his role as President of & Open-Wheels Motorsports Sanctioning. With an eye on the race’s future, Watkins has tabbed a respected and recognized member of the iRacing community to continue the strong success of the Open-Wheels 500. Replacing him will be Arjuna Kankipati, the 2021 VCO SIMMY Award Winner for Best Commentary with significant organizational experience – including the 2021 ISOWC which saw $7,000 paid out to the top iRacing IndyCar drivers across six races.

“It is with great pleasure that I pass the torch of Open-Wheels to Arjuna. I have enjoyed growing and operating Open-Wheels since April 2017 while watching it flourish in both the IndyCar media and sim racing scenes” said Tanner Watkins, as he reflected on his time with Open-Wheels.

“When we founded the Open-Wheels 500 in May 2019, our vision was to create the premier Indianapolis 500 experience in sim racing.  Over time, I believe we built the event to fit that reputation, and I hope that each individual who competed at the Open-Wheels 500 felt the attention to detail which was poured into the event.  I would like to thank our two race winners Michele Costantini and Hugo Olsson for their participation in the event – it has been enjoyable to see how your careers have blossomed since your Open-Wheels 500 victories.

“I will be forever grateful for the kind words shared by racers who voiced their appreciation for the event, and to the many drivers for whom I got to meet through the Open-Wheels 500.  My greatest joys regarding iRacing have been experienced not through competing as a driver, but working with you all on this massive project.  It is in great hands with Arjuna and I will be watching intently as he leads the Open-Wheels 500 into its next era.”

A veteran of sim-racing on and off the track, Kankipati has raced against top level competition in endurance racing & IndyCar on the iRacing service. Alongside organization skills that have seen him run series including the ISOWC & Winter GreenHELL, he brings significant broadcasting expertise as a Broadcast Director at RaceSpot TV. Kankipati is one of just two commentators to have led the broadcast team for an iRacing Indy 500.

“I am grateful that Tanner has entrusted me with the Open-Wheels 500. After being a part of the broadcast team in 2020, I like many missed its appearance in 2021 but I look forward to continuing Tanner’s hard work starting this November, “ said Kankipati.

“The goal is to build upon the professional environment that Tanner built for this event and I look forward to sharing more information about our plans for 2022 in the coming months. The Open-Wheels 500 is a celebration of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 and I look forward to diving headfirst into delivering a showcase of the iRacing IndyCar community come the Month of November when we’ll hit the track in the virtual Indiana for the first time in more than 700 days.”

More details about the 2022 Open-Wheels 500 will be released in the coming months. To stay up to date on all the latest news, make sure to follow Open-Wheels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or join the virtual paddock in the official Open-Wheels 500 Discord.


Open-Wheels Motorsports Sanctioning is the official competition body of the Open-Wheels 500 Mile Race.  This dedicated team of stewards provides the most professional, transparent, and realistic event guidance in the sport of sim racing.  Open-Wheels does not profit from the Open-Wheels 500 in any form or fashion.

Individuals interested in supporting the event via sponsorship should contact Arjuna Kankipati at for further information.

Close Menu