League racing started off in the United States in the Fall of 1995 when Hawaii, Papyrus' test system for online racing with the original Nascar Racing simulation, was running a closed beta test in Boston, USA. The first racing leagues were formed there, like the Hawaii Ace League and Late Night With Dave. Those leagues were usually small, single-division leagues and everybody knew each other very well. Many close friendships evolved.
When online racing matured with TEN and the NROS using Nascar Racing 2 in 1997, a new breed of leagues saw the light of day: multi-division championships, targeting growth. The OSCAR league is one of the most obvious examples. Close ties between the drivers still existed, but relatively less of them: drivers would move from one division to another, which just isn't an ideal climate for creating close, long lasting friendships.
So, in fact two extremes of leagues exist nowadays: small leagues, mainly targeting consistency in the driver roster, close ties between as high a percentage of drivers as possible and select group feeling. And huge leagues, mainly targeting growth and competition and often simulating real-world championships. Both kinds of leagues are very important for a balanced sim racing scene. One of the extremes is no better than the other; it's just a matter of personal taste, what you like best.
The ERL is one of the old-style leagues: we are a small league, we'll stay a small league, we have a fantastic group thing going on and most drivers have been with us for a very long time. The ERL truly does justice to "League Racing The Way It Used To Be".
For a complete history of online racing, check out the Online Racing Timeline.
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