SCCA eSports Super Tour: Virtual Racing, Actual #FunWithCars

What do you do when you’re not allowed to go racing?

You go racing.

As tracks have gone quiet from coast to coast, SCCA action went digital as the club hosted its first-ever SCCA eSports Super Tour on Saturday, March 28.

SCCA dipped their toes into eMotorsports last year with the SCCA Spec Racer Ford Challenge Presented by the Skip Barber Racing School,” explains Andie Wolfe, SCCA’s Creative Manager. “Recently, Steve Ray and Tom O'Gorman have been champions of our efforts in that world. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we not only had the demand for a more aggressive presence in eMotorports, but the staff had the bandwidth to make it an event worthy of the SCCA Super Tour brand.”

While the idea had been geminating for a little while, things kicked into gear the Monday before the event. SCCA Solo and Pirelli World Challenge champ Tom O’Gorman was brought in due to his familiarity with the iRacing platform. “We developed the format similar to an SCCA Super Tour, and locked in the plan for Saturday,” he explains. 

Now the weekend needed an audience. Enter SYM TV. “And I think an extra shout-out to SYM TV is in order,” O’Gorman continues. “They put together that stream on a day's notice and it was equal quality, if not higher, to some of the major series' broadcasts that have been going out on actual TV. Kyle Heyer runs SYM TV; they've been doing streaming for iRacing for about 2 years now out of their college apartment in upstate New York and I'm amazed at what they do.”

SCCA Super Tour and Runoffs announcer Gregg Ginsberg and Solo Nationals and Runoffs announcer Larry MacLeod would provide the play-by-play. “Larry MacLeod and Gregg Ginsberg have both worked with us in the past across multiple SCCA programs and had experience commentating eMotorports, making them easy selections for that role,” Wolfe adds. (During the broadcast, both stressed that they maintained at the recommended six feet of social distancing.)

The SCCA eSports Super Tour featured three 20-minute contests, all held at West Virginia’s virtual Summit Point Raceway. “As for the racing, it was seriously top-notch,” O’Gorman adds, noting that they had drivers from SCCA club racing, autocross and time trialing. Also in the field: David Gaspers, recognized as one of the best Spec Racer Ford drivers in the entire iRacing universe. 

We had right around 100 unique entries across the three 40-driver races, plus another 75 drivers in overflow races throughout the day,” O’Gorman continues. “I was able to run all three races. It was fun to see different drivers who excelled in certain cars rise to top in each different race. The three cars chosen–the Spec Racer Ford, Skip Barber F2000, and Global MX-5 Cup–each have unique driving and racing styles, and I think you saw three amazing races develop out of all of those moving parts.”

Now that the first event is in the bag, the attention turns to the future. “This was not a one-and-done event,” Wolfe states. “Formal conversations are just starting, but we learned a lot from this first event and plan to make the next one even better. 

Three-time SCCA Solo Champ Steven Duckworth, who was part of the weekend’s Skip Barber F2000 fray, also looks forward: “I'm interested to see where it goes, and I hope they can grow the eSports world with it.”

While not an SCCA employee, O’Gorman sees a way for the club to get even more involved. “I see two paths: high-level competition with high-level production for entertainment, and regularly scheduled ‘public’ races for the casual member,” he explains. “Replicating the SCCA Super Tour-style race weekend, with multiple race groups featuring a variety of cars and drivers competing at the highest level with a great streaming presentation similar to what you saw today fits very well within the constraints of iRacing. That might not be for everyone, so alongside that ‘hardcore’ competition, I see SCCA hosting regular race sessions a few times a week for people to jump on, have some casual fun in practice, get a race or two in with friends–the Time Trials or Track Night In America yin to the Super Tour's yang, if you will. We're lucky that both are very real possibilities, and we'll see very soon what comes out of it.”

And, as Wolfe notes, keep an eye on the SCCA’s website for future developments.

 

 

 

 

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