NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, or NR2003 for short, is a computer racing simulator released in February 2003 by Papyrus for PC and Mac OS X. The game was the last to be released by the company before EA Sports bought the NASCAR license from NASCAR. The game included all of the 2003 NASCAR season tracks and many of the drivers. The game box featured the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick on the front cover.
While 42 real drivers are present in the Winston Cup Series in NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, fantasy drivers are still present, sponsored by fictional or unused sponsors. Painters in the sim racing community also design and create fictional cars in addition to recreating current paint schemes.
NASCAR driving superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. were noted players of the game, and many professional drivers used the game's online multiplayer mode to practice tracks before races. These included 2006 Rookie of the Year Denny Hamlin, who used the game to train for the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway, going on to win the race at a track notoriously tough for rookies.
Motorsports Image used PCs running NR2003 as the central component of their NASCAR simulator products. These included several show-cars and race vehicles refitted as simulators, and a line of single-seat open models with pitch/roll motion bases. The Coca-Cola Company operated a set of them as mobile promotional events relating to their numerous NASCAR sponsorships; one-to-three day stops at Wal-Mart stores and some other retailers in the Midwestern United States were the most common venues.
After the game was pulled from stores in early 2004 due to Papyrus' NASCAR license expiring, it began commanding prices sometimes exceeding $150 on eBay. The game features a popular multiplayer interface, used by up to 2500 drivers at any one time. This can result in fields of up to 43 human drivers driving simultaneously in online races. There are several online leagues still running, even with the release of countless other stock car sims. In 2008, Papyrus Design Group shut down the online servers.
2007 Daytona 500 race car, rendered in 3ds Max 7 ,from Sim Racing Design.]]
The ability to paint cars using an in-game design tool and professional tools like Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and GIMP created a community devoted to recreating paint schemes, and a rendering community designed to showcase these paint schemes. Each week "crew members" paint various schemes replicating the real car that was raced.