Update: Martin’s personal web page has been wiped entirely, with only the text Site Under Maintenance displayed.
Only a few short days ago, we here at PRC introduced our readers to the curious case of eSports personality Josh Martin. Boasting seventeen world records in Assetto Corsa alone, as well as fifteen online championships and over five hundred individual race wins, the twenty year old Scottish chap had been aggressively marketing himself for a number of years as a virtual racing phenom who had landed the opportunity to campaign a real race car thanks to his eSports accolades – until we performed a thorough background check and discovered he had a lot of explaining to do. A disservice to top level sim racers such as Greger Huttu, Bono Huis, and Olli Pahkala – stand-up individuals whom act as ambassadors for sim racing to the rest of the eSports world & motorsports community – we revealed that Josh Martin’s online career, sponsorships, and even partnerships with legitimate race teams, had been built upon extremely liberal interpretations of the truth, stretching into fraud-like territory that certain entities may possibly be able to pursue legally, but we’ll leave that up to them.
The fifteen eSports titles were attained primarily via competing against mates from school in unsanctioned Codemasters’ Formula One 2013 leagues for the Xbox 360, a far cry from sanctioned, licensed eSports events such as the $10,000 iRacing championships sponsored by automotive brand PEAK Anti-Freeze, and the $1,000,000 Visa Vegas eRace that come to mind when one is to mention eSports competitions. Likewise, the seventeen world records Martin was using as proof of his raw speed in simulators were discovered to be just as invalid, as in several of the leaderboards that deemed him to be the world record holder for a given car on a particular track, he was the only participant whatsoever. And though it was difficult to find evidence of his five hundred victories, results from the Eurogamer Assetto Corsa Championship held this spring depict him to be a bust unlike any other – Martin’s self-proclaimed title as the #1 sim racer in Scotland (of which no ranking exists) does not match up with his on-track performance, in which he is seen to be four seconds off pace and was most recently disqualified from an event for reckless driving.
Since our expose on Martin’s misleading eSports statistics, as well as another sim racer taking time out of his day to beat all seventeen of Josh’s records quite easily, Martin has now drastically reconfigured his personal webpage to delete any mention of the bogus statistics in favor of red text that reads Currently Under Changes, though previously uploaded YouTube videos of his have allowed us to preserve the outright misleading information in some fashion.
So your next question is understandably to ask why this all matters, as the sad reality is that sim racing attracts many teenagers and man-children alike by allowing them to live out their failed childhood dreams of becoming a race car driver. It’s certainly not uncommon to run across people in the community who believe NASCAR scouts are paying attention to their iRacing results, or Formula One teams are interested in their offline F1 2016 career mode progress, so yet another sim racer taking their delusions of grandeur to the extreme and opening a website to portray themselves as a professional eSports personality with incredibly impressive statistics full of more holes than swiss cheese, should be par for the course in a sense.
The problem here, is that Martin is actively marketing himself to both media outlets and potential sponsors under these same false pretenses that most sim racers can easily see through, and in some cases, these entities are handing over money, time, and real cars in return for exposure they aren’t actually getting, because Martin isn’t who he says he is, and isn’t doing what he said he would.
A post in January of 2015 by Josh claims he has been offered an actual racing contract to drive in the United Kingdom’s highly popular Formula Ford series, with a smilar story appearing on the Codemasters community blog, and is a “big sim racer” who is sponsored by Thrustmaster to compete in eSports competitions.
There is no record of Josh competing in any prominent eSports competitions such as iRacing’s World Grand Prix Series, the iRacing NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, or the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace, the three biggest simulator competitions of our time. Josh’s personal website does not depict him driving the Formula Ford entry from Gwyn Richardson, but merely attending one of the races as a paddock guest, a fact reiterated by another publication. Furthermore, we have been supplied screenshots of a private message exchange in which Josh asks his acquaintances to fabricate emails that would increase the likelihood of Thrustmaster supplying him with sponsorship funds after they initially rejected his offer.
Despite the moderate coverage of Josh’s acquisition by Richardson Racing, including a television interview with STV, there is no record of Josh Martin piloting Gwyn Richardson’s Formula Ford. Martin himself made no effort to inform those following the story that the deal did not materialize, and continues to use choice shots of the Richardson car on his website to subtly imply to the untrained eye he had at one point driven it.
Two years later, in October of 2016, Martin resurfaced, returning to media outlets and sim racing message boards alike to proclaim he had signed with a hobbyist squad, ProRaceUK, to drive their BMW 3 series race car. The snazzy pre-season photographs and media frenzy culminated in an interview with two outlets, one on BBC Radio Scotland, and another on BBC Radio 5 Live, in which Josh again attempted to tell the same story of landing a professional racing gig through his eSports exploits – albeit with a tintop team instead of a Formula Ford operation. Failing to inquire why an earlier, identical deal had fallen through, media outlets ran the story anyway.
However, as the date of the first race approached, and sim racers were eager to see how eSports personality Josh Martin would fare on a legitimate track under competition speeds despite his misleading accolades, it was discovered that the same operation that had taken part in his aggressive self-promotion, were actually selling the car he had posed with on their public Facebook page, and despite a very thorough marketing push heavily implying Josh would be driving for them in 2017, did not even list him as the potential driver.
As someone whose schedule is loaded from May to October driving two very different race cars, I don’t know of a single team owner who would willingly take elaborate press photos with one specific car & driver combination, complete with the guy’s name and number plastered all over the bodywork, go through the trouble of promoting it on a pretty large scale to the point where the driver was being interviewed by the Goddamn BBC, only to get rid of the car weeks before the season was set to commence. This is very strange, and it is simply not what auto racing teams do on any level whatsoever.
After our original article on Josh Martin went viral, ProRaceUK’s own Craig Harper appeared in our comments section to both belittle and insult anyone who dared to question why the heavily promoted 2017 plans with Josh Martin failed to materialize in the exact same manner as the Formula Ford deal mentioned earlier. Harper’s meltdown spanned over three hundred comments, and you can read the entire chain by clicking here, but even when confronted with proof that Josh’s sim racing accolades the media had been so quick to run with were bogus embellishments mocked by legitimate eSports personalities, Harper claimed these comments were from angry, bitter individuals made out of jealousy, and he felt what had already been debunked as misleading, fraud-like eSports statistics from Josh were instead a “strong, marketable package.”
It’s easy to feel sorry for Mr. Harper at first; a real mechanic had simply been taken advantage of by a crafty twenty year old due to his understandable lack of knowledge when it comes to simulated race cars and the eSports kingdom, but after three hundred comments, the other side of the story was able to materialize. A Facebook video featuring Josh Martin & Craig Harper has surfaced, in which they gleefully boast about Josh’s now-debunked sim racing statistics before joking about Josh taking all of Craig’s money, and needing additional sponsors to field the car for the upcoming season.
It’s easy for some to dismiss this video as off-beat British Humor that may go over the heads of North American readers, but comments from Craig Harper appear to convey that all jokes aside, Josh’s 2017 drive that was promoted so heavily across the BBC and even sim racing websites, is indeed hindered by financial issues.
This is where I stop playing nice.
In the world of auto racing, you do not announce a very specific season plan via relentless promotional material unless it is 100% going to happen, and if it does fall through for one reason or another, you make that shit public right away to not mislead people, current sponsors, or potential sponsors. Financial issues never arise at the eleventh hour; there is no such thing as “oops, we went through all this trouble of spending money to prepare a car, and now that its done, can’t afford to race it” unless you are mind-boggling levels of retarded. What dumb motherfucker poses with a race car, hits up the BBC and several other media outlets to talk about his race car, and tells the sim racing community about his race car, when he knowingly won’t be able to afford driving the race car, and the team is actually in the process of selling the race car?
For example, when preparing to campaign the #2 Chevrolet SS for this upcoming season, our complete internal budget spreadsheet was completed prior to receiving the sponsorship money from Slightly Mad Studios. Our entire 2017 season, including but not limited to parts, travel, fuel, tires, potential damages, setup software, and other miscellaneous items we could purchase to ensure we could race the car for at least seven events, had been meticulously calculated to ensure the venture was both affordable with the funding we were provided with, and ready to be put into action on the day of the money changing hands. And after causing a miniature riot among some of our 650,000 readers with the season announcement, adding an entire Team PRC tab to our website that listed our tentative schedule, creating a Facebook page for the team, we certainly did not list the car on RacingJunk.com.
I refuse to believe that a team competing at locations such Silverstone International Raceway were so ill-prepared for the financial aspect of running a race team, and the financial problems crept up so quickly, they were unable to inform their sponsors, supporters, and the press who had covered them, that the endeavor would not be going ahead as initially advertised.
Martin’s personal web page still heavily implies he will be competing in the BMW Compact Cup, giving off the impression that the venture is still moving forward. Nowhere on his web page does he list a tangible schedule, nor that he was forced to miss the opening round of the championship and will instead be competing in a partial schedule, or that the car he posed with has been sold by the team he lists as a partner. ProRace UK’s Facebook page contains no announcements that explain the stark contrast between what the press articles say about Josh’s alleged racing career, versus what’s actually happening. I am confused as to why none of the parties would make an effort to clear up any discrepancies given how much media attention their story initially received. People are going to start asking questions at some point, why not just get it out of the way?
Sponsorship and financial issues which would keep a driver sidelined are not problems that arise the week before an event, they are learned of several months in advance – especially considering the 2017 racing season just began over in Europe and you have all the time in the world to figure shit out during the winter months and announce if things aren’t going according to plan. Therefore, it is to the best of my knowledge that Josh Martin and Craig Harper appear to have been aggressively self-promoting their endeavor while knowing full well Josh would probably not be racing in the first place due to a lack of sponsors. This makes the pair look dishonest, despicable, and is a black eye to our hobby in particular when a sim racer is at the center of it all, in part using dishonest, now-debunked accolades to get this far in the first place.
I do not place the blame on Craig, as typically it is the driver’s responsibility to bring sponsors to an operation. After investigating Josh’s previous sim racing exploits, in which he forges emails to bait sponsors into supporting him, and greatly misleads others with exaggerated eSports statistics that operate on technicalities and clever wording while embarrassing himself in legitimate events, I am under the belief he promised ProRace UK he could bring sponsors to the operation, but of course, wasn’t telling the truth, and nobody at the organization was well-versed in the world of sim racing to figure out they were dealing with a bullshit artist.
In 1996, an amateur soccer player by the name of Ali Dia prank called Southampton manager Graeme Souness, and disguising his voice as 1995’s World Player of the Year, recommended himself to the Southampton club before being outed as a fraud during his first and only appearance with the team. In 2017, a low-level sim racer by the name of Josh Martin fabricated an entire website dubbing him to be the #1 sim racer in Scotland despite no such global ranking system existing, and used these fabricated, misleading accomplishments to land a partnership with a real race team before being outed as a bust thanks to his tall tales failing to materialize because race cars cost money to operate, and a couple sim racers taking a serious look at his few publicized eSports results. Josh Martin is sim racing’s Ali Dia.
Since the story first went live over the weekend, all of Martin’s seventeen world records have been snatched by random sim racers in pursuit of a hearty giggle, while the home screen of Josh’s official webpage has been drastically altered in what many will no doubt see as an admission of guilt, though his Twitter page claims the article was fake news, and the tagline on his web page still lists him as a “professional racing driver.” Comments have been disabled on select videos seen on his primary YouTube channel, and while to his credit Josh has attempted to provide us with “proof” of the Caterham F1 team being genuinely interested in his eSports accomplishments…
…it’s hard to believe a the message was little more than a polite response to a superfan, as Mercedes AMG Petronas can be seen publicly joking about receiving such an email on their own Twitter feed – indicating the source of the lighthearted tweet may have been rooted in reality, and we’ve merely figured out the original inspiration.
The entire saga is as unfortunate as it is incredibly absurd. Though we only tend to highlight the bad apples here on PRC.net, the sim racing community is full of stand-out individuals who could act as phenomenal ambassadors for our hobby on a much larger scale, and it is incredibly disappointing to see someone giving sim racers an incredibly bad name to the world of auto racing by actively working to deceive the press, sponsors, and even real world motorsports personnel. It is frustrating to be made aware of such an individual wreaking havoc in two distinct communities, but now that the story is out there, hopefully steps can be made to rectify any behind-the-scenes destruction & deception.