Updated: Aug 31, 2020
COVID 19 and the worldwide lockdown has seen an explosion in SIM racing. ‘Real’ racers were quick off the mark to order their own sim rigs and get back to racing, if not on a track but from their homes, as soon as they could.
Formula 1 stars like Lando Norris and Max Verstappen - already ahead of the game - have been using this format as a pre-cursor to their on-track activities for years growing up. Some say it is the reason for elements (good and bad) of their driving styles.
So where does that leave the sim racers who have been honing their craft for many years already, to have real-life championships starting up and treading on ‘their turf’? Does there have to be such a divide?
In the case of James Baldwin, it is quite the opposite. James is one of the early ambassadors of sim racing to take their career from the sim to the track.
Less than a year ago James won the World’s Fastest Gamer, receiving his trophy from the racing legend Juan Pablo Montoya. This weekend (August 1-2) he took his first British GT win at Oulton Park, which I should add was his debut ‘real race’! It is an incredible achievement by James to utilize his skills honed in the virtual world and see them pay dividends on the racing track.
Darren Cox - Engine Media co-CEO & World’s Fastest Gamer Founder had this to say:
“The team behind World’s Fastest Gamer has seen some incredible gaming talent coming through in past years including two of the judges last year Jann Mardenborough (former GT Academy winner) and Rudy van Buren (winner of World’s Fastest Gamer season 1). However, we’ve never seen a gamer like this arrive in professional racing and win on debut. That is ground-breaking. This is not only a testament to the incredible talent that we unearthed in James but also a result of the advances in sim racing – the similarities between the cars in the game and cars on the track are getting closer and closer.”
So, what does this mean for young motor racing talents in general who are looking to further their careers? Could taking it digitally and competing in a sim environment be a way to rise to the top – the new grassroots of our sport?
With such a spotlight now on this discipline, esports could be the way for more affordable training and sponsorship to give young talent a chance to demonstrate their skills. With figures like $100,000 up for grabs in some championships, it would certainly be a massive contribution to a young talent’s budget.
On top of that, the hours and cost associated with testing on a track can really mount up. SIM racing is an accessible way of getting your track time, learning a circuit, and potentially trying out a few moves that could see you prosper in reality.