The office culture follows the example of Kaemmer himself, which is to say personally low-key but professionally intense. A trim forty-five, with thinning hair and a ready smile, he has the slender build of a competitive cyclist. When I visited, he was dressed in a lived-in black polo shirt, faded jeans, and high-mileage Piloti shoes. He looked so, well, normal that it was hard to reconcile him with the legendary programmer who was the recent subject of a thread on RaceSimCentral-the major online source for information on racing games-titled simply, "Dave Kaemmer is God!!!"
Kaemmer is the most influential figure in sim racing. At twenty-four, after cofounding the Papyrus Design Group, he landed a dream assignment to create an Indy 500 game for Electronic Arts. Although he wasn't a racing fan at the time, he figured he could do better than Pole Position, the crude Atari arcade game into which millions of would-be racers had dumped gazillions of quarters. "Flight Simulator was one of my favorite programs at the time," he recalls, "and I already knew something about 3D graphics. So I read Tune to Win and all the other Carroll Smith books to learn about how race cars worked."
Indianapolis 500: The Simulation, published by EA in 1989, was the first serious PC racing sim, and it established the template for every game that followed. With a small cadre of programmers at Papyrus, Kaemmer designed NASCAR and IndyCar titles that helped define the hard-core racing sim as an alternative to more popular, but less realistic, arcade-style hits such as Gran Turismo and Need for Speed. In 1998 came Kaemmer's wildly ambitious Grand Prix Legends, which simulated F1 racing circa 1967 and still has a rabid cult following.
In 2004, Papyrus folded after a rival company secured the exclusive rights to NASCAR. But by then, Kaemmer was already certain that online gaming was the next frontier. He found a kindred spirit-and financial angel-in the form of John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing. Henry had discovered racing through Kaemmer's sims, and he competed in an online racing league. He and Kaemmer formed iRacing and hired the core team that had been at Papyrus.