Have you ever wondered: “I am a sim racer but it’s just a hobby, right? Can’t I make a career out of it which would make my living?
The short answer is “yes”, long one is “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees, you can”
Many have done so and for years have been involved in many professionally backed projects that do nothing else but represent a brand on top level of competition around the world.
Bunch of them started with a simple wheel many years ago which they got from parents for good grades at school or even a gamepad on their older brother’s PC or console. From there a way of passing time and enjoying themselves became a hobby then a passion and finally a job because in today's day and age online entertainment becomes a new medium and just like “regular” eSports it becomes profitable and it sparks official competitions with money involved. Back in the day it was just Counter Strike, League of Legends, Dota, Starcraft and Quake where a bunch of teenagers and young adults traveled around the world to attend expos or tournaments where they would compete against the very best in the world for big prize money, now we see sim racers stepping in to get their piece of pie.
We need to talk about the fact that the OG in this probably goes to Gran Turismo and their idea to host official hot lap competitions on their platform of games they develop and offer a chance to get into GT Academy for the top fastest people with an opportunity to get a racing backing from them to pursue real life racing career and unsurprisingly many of them did! Among them are the likes of Jann Mardenborough or Wolfgang Reip.
In 2017 the world was shocked by the announcement of Vegas Visa eRace which took part during CES and boasted 1 mln dollars total prize pot. This amount was unheard of on the sim racing scene before that and further legitimized sim racing as a worthy Esport platform.
However, the biggest hike in the interest of sim racing was noted in 2020 as Covid became a thing and many real life races were put on hold or straight up canceled. This didn’t stop ACO, managing body of World Endurance Championship to take advantage of Le Mans 24h not taking place in June as it was scheduled and coming up with a virtual version of the race using rFactor 2 as a platform and almost every single race team that would have taken part in that race in real life.
That made headlines in mainstream media and created a buzz around virtual racing that hasn’t been seen before. Sim racers were coupled with pro drivers from real teams to compete in the race for the entire 24h, just like the real one.
That event very likely has put many sim drivers on the radar of pro teams that sensed an opportunity to create a new platform to increase brand awareness and/or develop a junior program for exceptional drivers to try their abilities for real.
One of the better known examples of a sim racer that thanks to Esports became a GT racer on real tracks is James Baldwin. James was a karting driver in his youth but it was thanks to sim racing and eSports that helped him elevate his career to the next level.
We have seen him drive in GT3 with McLaren 720S and right now he is also an official driver for Mercedes eSports division.
Another example of from Sim Racing to real racing which becomes a career is World’s Fastest Gamer, rFactor 2 ambassador and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany driver, Rudy van Buren.
He was involved in karting before but then his supernatural skills with virtual cars gave him a shot for more after winning World’s Fastest Gamer on rFactor 2 platform several years ago and elevated him into a real life racing seat and opportunities to take part in the Race of Champions against likes of Lando Norris!
But wait, you don’t have to pursue those special events that often give you a shot at an official test with a racing team. There have been plenty of opportunities in the virtual world to make it worthwhile for you to try your best to win a big money prize.
For example, the eNascar Coca Cola iRacing series can accumulate up to 300 thousand dollars in the prize pot with the winner taking 100 thousand dollars.
F1 eSports Pro Series also offers an absolutely huge amount of money for winners and opportunity to further evolve afterwards as success breeds success potential in other areas since many events are run based on invitations and most recognizable people with highest amount of success are drafted.
Another example of an event that can end up with your bank account getting bigger is the FIA Gran Turismo World Championship that offers a prize fund of 250k.
There are many events popping up around the internet with many different prizes. Many of them offer physical prizes like tickets to an event, sim racing hardware or trophies that will make your friends jealous!
Sim racing is proving to be a platform of a great opportunities if you are willing to nurture your talent, skills and back it up with a lot of practice and giving it a lot of shots as success comes to people who are not afraid to fail 100 times if that means the 101th time is going to be the one that changes their life forever.
Enjoy your passion guys and spread the love for sim racing as the bigger it grows, the more opportunities there will be from increased interest and exposure!
Trak Racer Team