The following “story” may be intimidating (read TLDR) to some, so, some words of caution are in order. If you’re addicted to clicking links, be advised, this rabbit hole goes deep and if you don’t carry some rope, or at least some seeds to mark your path, you could very well get lost and be late to Sunday’s racing. You may even have to move forward or go back in the posts to be able to obtain the context in which some of the links take you. If you’re sublimely uninterested in how you came to be in this league, scroll to the bottom and move on. Three years ago, on this day, at 11:44PM, Eastern Daylight Savings time (-5GMT), this thread, and the Sunday Night American Intermediate League, was opened for business. This post is a tribute to the first year SNAIL breathed and will illustrate how it began as an idea, and much like an infant of any species, grew and evolved, sometimes gracefully, other times painfully. The idea was born of a small group of people wanting a place where they could gather and compete with others of a like mind and similar skill level, to test themselves against each other, using the virtual racing world known as Gran Turismo 5. A copy of the very first version of the Original Post may have been lost in the smoke of tires and the cloud of dust when the first night’s races were held, 18 December 2011. Here is an example of what that post might have looked like. Those first weeks of racing were held in 1 division as 3 races each, using 3 different combinations of cars and tracks, completed in the space of 2 hours and tuning, while limited in spirit, was allowed. Tires being used were no less than racing grade for all cars. It wasn’t long before the future Grand Master Data Wizard @kcheeb joined. @Vol Jbolaz and kcheeb authored almost every data collection effort and automated process for that data, we currently use. Less than a month later, a custom of generosity and assistance was began, with the founding father’s saved game data the loss. This habit of generosity would extend to not only catastrophic losses but also to helping those in need of assistance obtaining DLC, passing out cars, paints and gear, instruction on not only driving, but also how to use certain game operations to enhance participation efficiency. During this same time, it was suggested the league go to tuning prohibited races and was embraced in short order. A week later it was decided to implement a multi-divisional structure. Certain League members were hosting other events during the week and a schedule of those opportunities was published. These events expanded appeal and gave some relief to the more structured Sunday League night. To maintain the balance and core ideals of the league, now with 2 divisions, Promotion and Relegation was created to ensure drivers would be with others of similar skill levels. At practically the same time, a tire specification change was suggested and discussion followed. As many of you know, the second post of this thread holds the information of what will be raced and where it will be raced. Some of you have also come to realize it’s now regarded as one of the fish slappable questions that can be asked here. How many of you know that question has been asked from almost the very beginning of SNAIL? It’s not the only “fishy” question asked and, one long time member might have been the first to ask one of the others. To be fair, it was really early in development and might still have been unclear what could be done under the new conditions for racing. He still asked it though. He got an answer but I wonder if someone will retroactively toss a fish for that? Who wants to guess how many times either of those questions was asked in the last 3 years? I don’t know. It’s been more than can be conveniently counted though. It seemed, during the early months of SNAIL, not a week went by without something being changed about how the league operated. Whispers began of needing a 3rd Division. Google docs was chosen to collect race data. The race format was changed to what we enjoy to this day. An early age pole was taken. The “Golden Rule” that guides us all in our on track endeavors was published as policy. Near the end of February, on the bissextile day of the year, the Intermediate part in SNAIL, was changed to reflect the dynamic nature of the league. The first week of March our founder made the statement, buried amongst other comments on other issues, and could be compared to the legendary, and apparently untrue, prediction of an industry giant regarding computer memory requirements, that we would never need more than 3 divisions. Sweet spot indeed. A differing, and perhaps prophetic, opinion was registered. Our founder is an erstwhile fellow and honestly and tirelessly works to be sure we all have the best racing anywhere, under the Gran Turismo umbrella. He did however seem to have a few blind spots when it comes to just how popular his “child” would become. Some may find this next part just a little offensive but, it’s been written, where, I’ve forgotten, that “God gives the business to people who say “never”.” He also seems to be adamantly opposed to proofing his posts and correcting those small typos that, in most cases were innocuous in nature, but, to the grammatically pedantic, jarring to read . Be that as it may, he continued, with the help of many others, to nurture and adapt the league to improve its appeal and efficiency. The middle of March saw the first of many results posts and it included a report of penalties assessed and who was promoted and relegated for the following week along with the activation of Division 3. Promotion and relegation was done on a weekly basis and there were no month long season championships at that time. The first race statistics are posted soon after and, who remembers this, at the time containing less than 40 names, soon to become epic, drivers list? The second half of March saw the introduction of prizes with real world value. Active Stewardship came up and the first volunteer made their intent known and was accepted as such. Prior to this it appeared that OLR infractions were primarily settled by the drivers involved discussing the infraction, with zer05ive and kcheeb as mediators, and accepting full race disqualifications or no penalty. After this, suggestions for setting the in game penalties off and creating a steward corps were made. The end of March was marked by a rebuff to comments expressing opinions on the suitability of a particular winner’s pick. Perhaps someday, SNAIL will grow away from the need for this type of “discussion”. Driver aids were also allowed, in one division, after some discussion. A self proclaimed cyborg comments, in third person, regarding the treatment of deceased equines in the Halls of SNAIL. April began with a seed that sprouted into the longest running SNAIL series, outside of the Sunday night event. Consistent car color suggestion is put forth and the dibs on colors start rolling in. This effort results in a Car Color “Chart” being produced to help track who picked what color and when. The Saturday SPEC series is launched, and a new “SNAIL” is born a few days later. The formation of the Steward Corps is begun. The first Race Modified car is chosen to race. This is followed quickly by Snails claiming numbers and a policy to keep it from getting nutso. Up to this point Vol Jbolaz and kcheeb have been managing the data fairly comfortably (should they be getting some retroactive $hells?) but, in an effort to foster the “many hands make light work” culture, the Data Specialists Corps starts looking for volunteers. The TEAM SNAIL roster is posted and was edited almost weekly before being folded into a sheet in the main results google doc, where it continues to be edited on a weekly basis. The first time a separate post was made detailing incident reporting instructions. It was edited several times, as Stewards assignments changed, and now rests elsewhere in the thread. Tire rules were changed and published, once again. Vol Jbolaz midwife’s a new points system in, after a round of discussion. The founder cuts the cord and it begins to learn. The crowds go wild and cheer. A question was asked for more data and the OI, not to be confused with AI, popped a circuit board, and another OI said, after a quick fictional google translation, “What? Didn’t look like you were eating that.” Apparently OIs be hungry creatures. April was a busy month and it was ushered out with one more item laid upon the altar of change, weekly Prize Distribution. Before this, prizes were awarded to the top 3 scoring drivers in D1. A remark is made in the middle of all this marveling at how “huge” the thread has become. If @esh thought that was big… In May the penalties off vote had been settled some time ago but, it was never really settled. Until recently that is. We all know how broken and inconsistent the in game penalty system was in GT5 and GT6 was no different in this regard. It’s taken over 2 years with two game versions, being brought up several times, argued about over and over, until we finally threw one of the worst pieces of coding found in Gran Turismo out and relied solely on our member players to report, and the Steward Corps to determine if a penalty should be assessed. May also brought the introduction of DLC tracks being allowed for prize winners to choose. The list of prizes the winner of Prize C could choose was published. Someone saw fit to remind everyone who the “Dad” is here. Carroll Shelby had passed away and SNAIL hosted a memorial event in his honor. Some reasons why incident discussion is not allowed in this thread, you may have to read back some to gain the full context of the discussion. May was sent off with the opening of a SNAIL banner competition. June seemed to be a fairly quiet month but many things seem to have been going on “behind the scenes” as it were, and the SNAIL OLR was published as a self contained document. It would be revised almost a year later. The penalty system was rebuilt. Promotion and Relegation practices were revised. A cry was heard however, for a system to help place new drivers in a division more suited to their skill level and a live horse was chased around. Prior to our current system, which began development here, new drivers were all dropped into Division 3 and promoted up, if warranted, after their first week of racing. The prize distribution methods gets a booster shot. Monthly seasons are suggested possibly again, mainly as a way to even out the spikes in P&R cycles. More major changes are hinted at in July. Was there ever a week then that didn’t have something about SNAIL Racing being changed? A cyborg notices some possible cloning occurring and others take notice. The driver placement Time Trial is developed and put in to production and existing Snails are asked to provide baseline numbers to work with. Those changes hinted at earlier are solidified and enacted. In the meantime, an effort was put forth to expose the legitimate threat of evil track side bunnies, dangerously distracting drivers with their deceptively cute appearances. Oh look, bunnies! The instructions for completing the Time Trial are posted and one of the Nostradamus impersonators in our midst speaks true. The founder, who once thought 3 divisions would be all SNAIL would ever need, swallows hard and says a 4th is coming. This post was the first to show 4 divisions of drivers and was updated almost daily until January 12, 2014, where it shows 7 divisions and a crazy long list of come and gone players. Shortly after that, whispers of a 5th division were heard and a post showing the current record of Snails raced in one night. Weekly prize distribution is opened, once again, for discussion. A future champion signs up and the most “mature” SNAIL, at the tender age of 71? shortly after. The end of July spots Division 5 raising its head and sniffing for some Snails to nibble on. It doesn’t take long for the olfactory senses to find its prey. In that same post, zer05ive thumbs his nose at the fates and not only says never, but tosses a couple "evers" in there, just for spite. You’d think he’d have learned by now. I think this might have already been mentioned earlier, but it would seem our erstwhile leader is a glutton for punishment. The words “final” and “permanent” seem to have enraged the cosmic forces. Three times man?. You were just asking for it. August began with another record setting night, where 50 drivers hit the track, across 5 divisions. SNAIL would stabilize at 5 Divisions for some time, at least through the end of its first year anyway. I don’t recall when a sixth division was added but I think it was after GT6 released, over a year later. That was another epically hectic time for SNAIL, which tripled in population from 3 divisions to 9, in less than 3 months, not only smashing the record above, but utterly obliterating it with over 100 drivers on track in one night. Tire specifications were brought up for who counted how many times, and the thread sailed past 10,000 posts, which a troll nabbed from nowhere, but got snatched away after some thread maintenance had been done and a much more deserving post got that coveted number. The tire specification model is re-worked to differentiate between street and race/tuner cars. It would undergo one last modification to define tuner car’s status more precisely. @zer05ive “Your inbox is full”. This became a regular theme, until GTPlanet moved to its current forum software platform. For the first time, Division Season Champions are awarded SNAIL T-shirts. A Good Race Craft Award is announced in September. That next tire specification modification hits the press and a Technical Director position is called for. September saw the very first public visit of a GTP Moderator. A dubious honor to be sure. Once more, tire specifications are put under the microscope, but nothing of major interest is found. I would dearly like someone to tell me where the waiting list, this post purports exists, actually is? I’m guessing it never got built and over 60 drivers hit the track the following Sunday. The first recipients of the Good Race Craft awards are announced and shown what they’ve won. A marker for how fast this thread moves was posted. By today’s standard of 100.1 posts a day, annually, that was slow by almost half, at 51.9. November found the Last Chance List being added to the Penalty Guidelines as an additional deterrent for repeat OLR violators. Strange, how time changes things. Huge doesn’t begin to describe this thread. Another Weekly prize distribution discussion is opened. A staple of our monthly championships has become the Race of Champions. Who remembers when it was first suggested? DLC tracks have been allowed for months by now but DLC cars will now be allowed for Weekly Prize winners to choose. December was a fairly stable time for SNAIL and the last thing the first year of SNAIL brought was a recurring item throughout the first year and subsequent years. Can anyone guess what it is? Okay, not waiting for all the guesses to be posted. In game penalties are once again asked to be turned off. This time, for Division 1 only. Discussion ensued over the course of the next week or so, as is SNAIL’s habit, and it was eventually decided that now was not the time to shut down the in game penalty system. It would be eventually and, I think, we’re all becoming better drivers for it. A few fun facts regarding this little corner of the internet Snails call home. The first year daily post average was 51.9 with 18,949 posts. The second year daily average was 59.8 covering 21,863 posts. This third year marks almost double those numbers with a 100.1 daily average with over 36,559 posts. The GTPlanet Site founder’s first public visit to the room he set aside for us was on October 9th 2014. It only took 71,000+ posts before he stuck his head in the door. Doesn’t mean he hasn’t peered through a window from time to time. While not possibly fact, I would bet, the number of photo bombs set off in this thread and total number of pictures scattered by those bombs, exceeds the number of pictures posted in almost every other thread, dedicated to pictures, combined. For those of you who followed my breadcrumbs on this little journey, lift a glass and have a sip. I thank you for taking the time and hope you got to the crossroads where it paused, enlightened in some regard in how SNAIL came to be where it is today. Sincerely, Dragonwhisky Afterword: If anyone discovers any errors and omissions in the above wall of text, I apologize now. This was a monumental task I set myself a few months ago and I let the majority of the research slide until this past week. I may have missed some things. Road on!