It wasn’t until Hero of the Day went live a few months ago that I could properly explore how serious some iRacers were taking what is otherwise a fairly lighthearted hobby. Yes, inside certain iRacing sessions, you’ll sometimes hear people make sarcastic remarks about “NASCAR Scouts” spectating Top Split events, and cringe-worthy stories occasionally circulate of a sim racer trying their hand at piloting an amateur race car – only to fail miserably – but demonstrating all of this stuff out in the open for the readers of PRC.net was proving to be quite difficult. No matter how much you talk about specific elements and individuals of the iRacing community whom are going above and beyond what is appropriate for a simulated auto racing environment, there will always be people that flat-out don’t believe you, or assume you’re on some sort of irrational campaign to smear the reputation of others. That is, however, until we caught wind of Slip Angle Motorsports handing out physical Hero Cards at actual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events; an act that while admittedly harmless for all involved, was transcending into laughable territory for those who took a look at the bigger picture: a virtual stock car team had a bigger media presence than most actual auto racing teams.
And yes, that is a die-cast version of someone’s iRacing car. You can get custom die-casts made of your own car thanks to dedicated individuals in the forums, but this image could be found floating around on a prominent iRacing team’s website, indicating there possibly may have been bigger plans for the future.
Now despite how many people are well aware that my name isn’t actually James, I still fly under the radar in quite a few communities, and believe me, I’ve read some of the comments that quite simply told me to “fuck off” for reporting on the hero card fiasco in the first place. Some iRacing fanboys called me jealous, others said there wasn’t much of a need to talk about it, and a few individuals got extremely defensive – as if printing out pictures of your fake race car and passing it out at events for real race cars was somehow a good thing for sim racing, and not extremely delusional behavior carried out by man-children unable to acquire a seat behind a wheel not attached to a desk. I mean, if there are people who are genuinely for this sort of thing, I’ll throw up a signed photograph of my Madden Superstar Mode player from a few years ago so you can make a couple bucks off it via eBay, but your average person is going to find this all a bit weird.
Now despite the iRacing fanboys predictably being whipped into a frenzy over someone daring to imply that dudes playing NASCAR in their underwear don’t deserve a massive media push behind them, I made a set of unlikely friends by running the Hero Card article. I’m not going to leak exact names, and by obfuscating the identities of certain individuals I will undoubtedly draw out an even bigger crowd of skeptics claiming I’ve doctored the whole thing, but regardless, a surprising amount of iRacing.com Peak Anti-Freeze Series drivers actually came to me in private over the span of a day or two to voice their gratitude for the Hero Card post. Again, I will not outright list their names, nor will I drop hints of their identities via the use of iRacing screenshots with their cars front and center, but I will say this: a quick count, and it was basically one representative from each major team in the Peak Anti-Freeze Series.
It is absolutely hilarious how the rabid iRacing shills were so adamant that the Hero Card post was little more than another hate-piece from PRC, yet the drivers who actually matter on the service and are paraded around as prominent individuals who should act as ambassadors for the community… They agreed with the sentiment I’d expressed.
But, and you’ve probably figured out from the above shot by now, that’s not all. Some drivers, again, under anonymity, offered very similar bits of supplementary information to flesh out the story behind the Hero Cards. I can’t exactly speak for the accuracy of these rumors, but I will say that no less than five different individuals – some of which whom weren’t even friends with one another based on my own, outdated knowledge of the iRacing community – regurgitated what was more or less the exact same story surrounding Slip Angle Motorsports.
As Driver #4 hints at above, there was a campaign to use this weird, delusional promotional push for a fake race team to help land an ARCA ride, and it completely backfired when real teams essentially laughed at them. There is nothing wrong with using racing simulators to help improve your skill and maybe prepare for your first steps into an amateur motor racing series using low powered shitboxes, but from what I’ve been told, the approach taken by Slip Angle team – hero cards and all – was awkward, and actually pissed off several real life ARCA teams. I stress that this is 100% hearsay, but I also stress that five people told me what’s more or less the exact same story, and some of them would never frequent the same Teamspeak server as one another, much less collude on the specific details of a single rumor.
So I began to wonder how deep this rabbit hole of delusion truly went, and how dedicated this group of individuals was to acting out their race car driver fantasies through the use of iRacing, and an article by none other than our boy Milo Yiannopoulos sparked memories of something I’d pushed aside from a few years ago – but most probably aren’t aware of.
The formation of Slip Angle Motorsports in 2014 was accompanied by an actual press release for the team – which at the time consisting of Ray Alfalla and Byron Daley – as well as a lengthy announcement detailing the team’s objectives for the upcoming season as outlined by owner Lisa Pineda. Now, on a personal level, I don’t think we need an official press release for a video game racing team; all that’s needed for a team to be created on iRacing – or any racing simulator for that matter – is literally telling your buddy “bro, type in Buttfuck Autosport as your team name” and… well… congratulations, you’re a team! So, I mean, if that’s important enough to warrant a press release, I can do up some stuff for my Career Mode progression on Ratbag’s Saturday Night Speedway, but most normal people who understand that we’re all just playing video games with shitty plastic wheels, this is overkill. I’m sorry, but it is.
Yet, then we get into the actual text of the press release and subsequent news article – which you can read here – and the whole thing makes me cringe on levels not typically recommended by your family doctor. As Milo touched on in his article I’ve linked above, women have a tendency to just sort of show up into random communities and display attention seeking behavior at inappropriate times. In this instance, before we even know who’s on the team, what series they’ll be driving in, or what their cars look like, issues that don’t matter in the slightest when it comes to online racing – such as the presence of a vagina, or the team owner’s skin color – are shoved in our faces instead. Diversity! Girl Power! Social Justice!
I could use this opportunity to go on a rant about women that would firmly place myself into neckbeard territory for the foreseeable future, but I’d much rather deconstruct the actual text of the press release. It’s actually easier to do so.
Oppression doesn’t exist in the world of sim racing. Unlike how short track managers treated Wendell Scott during his auto racing career, no official iRacing steward is going to come on the microphone, call you a nigger every three laps, and add the maximum allotted weight penalty to your car during the first round of pit stops at Daytona. And if you’re one of the admittedly few females chilling out in the community, such as the extremely talented Monica Clara Brand from the iRacing IndyCar Series, you’ll be regarded as one of the cornerstones of the community because you can drive circles around the competition. Nobody will be sitting in the chat box calling you a whore; in my experience, a lot of new guys actually went to Monica for driving advice and saw her as one of the most level-headed participants in a series utterly dominated by drama. Hell, even though I can’t say I’ve totally bought into the liberal ideology being pushed through social media, the few transgendered individuals I’ve competed against on Race2Play have also been treated with nothing but the utmost of respect by their competitors, and this comes during a time where a popular American department store is obsessing over transgender bathroom laws. In short, your plastic steering wheel doesn’t know what your skin color is or what gender you identify as, and your competitors don’t care in the slightest, because a solid 50% never even use each simulator’s built-in chat functions.
So for someone to bust onto the scene, throwing a much bigger media campaign at their pretend racing team than some real teams can even dream of, and immediately shouting things like diversity, girl power, and minority as if social justice issues matter in a computer game that never had them to begin with, it comes across as rather embarrassing, deluded, attenti0n-seeking behavior more than anything.
It is extremely cool to be proud of your hobby. In fact, if you’re a skilled competitor, a lot of people actually find it neat to run into aliens of not just sim racing, but any particular genre. A buddy of mine who lives no more than a five minute drive away from me is one of the best Hockey Ultimate Team players in the EA Sports line of NHL games, and it’s astounding how he’s mastered the game on a technical level – glitches and all. And as a sim racer who’s got a wide variety of people on Facebook, you’d be surprised at how mesmerized people are when you reveal that you’re “that asshole on the leaderboards with an inhuman time.” Just as there are people who are astounded by Dance Dance Revolution videos played – and perfected – at the highest difficulty, some find top level online racing incredibly exciting to watch. Don’t not be proud of that. You’re good at something. It’s cool.
But, and this is a big but, don’t be delusional about it. You don’t need press releases. You don’t need to fight for diversity, or girl power, or any sort of irrelevant social justice issues that simply don’t affect sim racing in the slightest. You don’t need to pass out Hero Cards at real NASCAR sanctioned events, pretending you’re every bit as talented and respected as humans flinging themselves around a race track at speeds quadruple the rate of what most of us can put up with. And you don’t need to try and find yourself an ARCA ride on your sim racing talents alone, pissing off real teams with real drivers in the process – otherwise you end up looking like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. And people weren’t laughing with, Uncle Rico, they were laughing at him.