Thanks to the support of Ian Bell and the team at Slightly Mad Studios, PRC is now much more than just a highly controversial sim racing blog – with myself taking over the driving aspect, and crew chief duties handled by former ARCA OK Tire Series Late Model winner/competitor turned iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series virtual crew chief Dustin Lengert (whose iRacing team Simworx have swept the opening two rounds of the 2017 season, and whom you readers know under the call-sign of Maple), the #2 Slightly Mad Studios Chevrolet SS is the pinnacle of hardcore sim racers crossing over into reality.
While sim racing publicity stunts traditionally consist of past online champions receiving little more than a private test session at a closed facility, this right here is the real deal. With our 2017 schedule set to take us all over British Columbia following the WESCAR Late Model tour (formerly the ARCA OK Tire Series) and miscellaneous one-off events at non-tour tracks, potentially taking us into Washington or Alberta as well, it’s going to be a chaotic summer to say the least.
Thanks to our familiarity with the world of sim racing, what we plan to do throughout the season is give our readers a bit of insight into our adventures from a sim racer’s standpoint – so this’ll include on-board footage with spotter audio, voice-overs, articles detailing virtual setup changes versus reality, discussions on what driving skills transfer over from sim racing to a legitimate competitive environment, and at the moment there are talks to have a guy with a camera come follow us around for a few weeks. Planning this stuff is a giant pain in the ass so don’t throw a hissyfit if something mentioned above doesn’t come to fruition, but the idea is to take PRC into a completely new and exciting direction; aside from the typical news and opinions you’ve come to know/love/hate from us, we’ll do our best to take you inside the cockpit when it’s time to step away from the computer monitor and put on the firesuit.
Obviously this venture would not be happening without the help of Ian Bell, and before the comments section turns into a nuclear wasteland, it’s important to clear up any misconceptions that may arise from the announcement of this partnership. After we interviewed Ian in July of last year, he began seeing PRC in a bit of a different light – genuinely appreciating some of the lengthy critical posts about Project CARS written by myself or anonymous Reader Submissions – and we began conversing in a somewhat productive manner. Wanting to progress my own amateur racing career beyond econobox racing, and with Ian needing a creative way to promote his upcoming game – which you now know as Project CARS 2 – a sponsorship deal made a surprising amount of sense.
Along with the race car sponsorship, we’ve all been brought on-board by Slightly Mad Studios to help poke holes in Project CARS 2 before it hits store shelves – which regardless of how you feel about the Project CARS franchise, it’s a pretty genius call to recruit the most notorious nit-pickers in the sim community for that task.
In the interest of maintaining transparency with our readers, I am indeed paid by Slightly Mad Studios for my internal feedback, and they have provided me with a complimentary PC to experience the pre-release versions with as little performance hiccups as possible. However, I have it in writing that the abrasive style that fuels entries on PRC will not be hindered by our new partnership with Slightly Mad Studios, and there are no quotas enforced in regards to publishing X amount of viral marketing pieces. Given the non-disclosure agreements in place and all of that fun stuff I have to dance around, you’ll only hear about Project CARS 2 or other upcoming titles by Slightly Mad Studios if there’s an overwhelming request for it, or something major has happened that warrants an opinion piece. It’s certainly going to be tricky to navigate and refine, but everyone involved in this knows that sim racers like reading PRC for the off-the-rails format, and it would be wrong to drastically reshape that.
Lastly, I think it’s important we do everything in our power to prevent sim racers on the outside looking in from believing this opportunity is all the result of pie-in-the-sky thinking and the Lord above merely granting our wishes. What you see in the pictures above is the product of many things going right in our respective personal lives over a period of about 36 months which allowed us to pursue something like this in the first place, as well as enough appropriate real-world racing experience across a variety of cars, tracks, and classes to make this a viable option.
We were not handed a race car for winning a private sim racing competiton, nor are we merely YouTube personalities with a lot of ad money and little in the way of knowledge to tackle the challenges of campaigning a Late Model Stock Car; Dustin is a former race winner turned crew chief in a series that has produced drivers who have eventually made it to ARCA and the NASCAR K&N series, and I paid my dues & proved jumping in some kind of a real car wouldn’t be a complete disaster by winning Rookie of the Year (and nearly the championship as well) in a smaller class. While to the uninformed it may look like we found a magic genie to make our late night Teamspeak pipe dreams come true, the reality is we worked our asses off to grow the website into an entity that made waves within the community, marketed ourselves to a sponsor who viewed the size of our audience as an asset, and then had the means to put it all together lined up when the funding came through.
The idea behind this adventure is to represent sim racing to the motorsports world in a way that legitimizes sim racing as a driving tool, and reversing the multiple PR disasters that have been created thanks to placing computer nerds in the seat of high performance race cars when some of them didn’t even possess a valid driver’s license.
Welcome to the show.