The Porsche Club of America and the Porsche Club Great Britain are coming together on 16 May and 23 May for the first ever international Porsche Club sim race.
It starts with a premiere: the first International Sim Racing Challenge will take place in a racing simulator – iRacing as a perfect alternative to real racing and events that the Coronavirus pandemic made impossible. Both Clubs will send their 50 best sim racers to the track at the Silverstone circuit in the UK and at Road America in the USA.
During the race, there will be interviews with the two Club Presidents, Edwina Pike from PCGB and Tom Gorsuch from PCA, as well as with Porsche race driver Patrick Long.
16 May at the Silverstone circuit in the UK
23 May at Road America in the USA
Both races start at 4 pm US Eastern Time (9 pm Greenwich/10 pm Central European Summer Time)
You can watch all of the action during the live broadcast featuring US, Canadian and British commentators on YouTube or here on our stream:
Racing games on computers have moved on a lot since the early 90s. But you cannot compare computer games with iRacing – sim racing is no longer just a game, but is now a professional simulation. Just like airline pilots spend many hours training their skills in flight simulators. Race tracks are laser-scanned down to the very last detail, enabling the online racer to feel surface texture changes like tarmac, concrete or curbs, and even the changes in conditions due to rain. Game developers have real racing drivers as consultants, so the cars have handling characteristics like their real-life counterparts. No wonder then that sim racing is becoming more and more popular with motorsport enthusiasts.
Whereas the Porsche Club of America’s sim racing programme is now already in its second year, Porsche Club Great Britain started its first season with an inaugural race held on 20 April this year. The idea for a transatlantic online competition between both countries started at the Club Presidents' Meeting in Portugal. These Club Presidents' Meetings organised by the Porsche Community Management are always a good platform to exchange ideas and to talk about sim racing, for example. Together with Richard Baldelli, General Manager of PCGB, Mandy Sear, Event and Motorsport Manager at PCGB, met Jim Hemig, National Marketing Director of PCA. The topic: the PCA Sim Racing Series that Hemig and the PCA have successfully established. “We knew about PCA Sim Racing,” recalls Mandy Sear. “And after speaking to Jim Hemig and starting our own series, we came up with idea of progressing the concept of a two-race international sim racing series for both Clubs to race door-to-door.”
Over 250 racers and all 14 PCA zones and most of the 145 regions have taken part in the 28 live broadcasted sim racing events with almost 70,000 YouTube page views to date, as Matthew Mitchell, PCA Sim Racing program marketing lead, enthusiastically reports. “The amount of engagement and excitement around the PCA Sim Racing series has already exceeded my expectations for this activity.” And with this large audience, those responsible at PCA have been able to go even one step further: During the events, they are now able to do quality interviews with famous Porsche GT factory drivers, including Earl Bamber, Matt Campbell, Laurens Vanthoor and Patrick Long. Needless to say: Porsche’s factory drivers also use the iRacing platform for training. They therefore have detailed knowledge about this topic and provide first-hand experience and tips.
“Porsche Club of America started the PCA Sim Racing programme to extend the Club’s Porsche enthusiasm into the digital realm,” adds Vu Nguyen. With success: “The broadcast quality is spectacular, and the professional commentators bring so much realism to every aspect of the races,” says the PCA Executive Director. “Even if one chooses not to race, spectating is almost as exciting. And, sim racing has opened up an opportunity to have friendly competition with our international Porsche Club family.”
“We’re extremely grateful for the support PCA has provided with the logistics of setting up our sim series,” emphasises Richard Baldelli, General Manager at PCGB. “I’m sure that, as PCA have experienced, sim racing will attract more and more Club members and become an integral part of our event schedule and of what makes membership of our Club so compelling and dynamic.” Of course, he hopes that the development of online skills will ultimately translate into more Club members participating in track day programmes and perhaps dipping a toe into the waters of hill, sprint or Club championships.
Mandy Sear also sees great potential in sim racing. “We would be delighted if Clubs follow us with sim racing,” says Mandy, as the British event and motorsport expert, and describes an exciting future scenario: “It would bring our Porsche Club family even closer together as a worldwide community. We could set the racing up like Formula 1 at tracks around the world and potentially create an international Club championship.” And also Matthew Mitchell from PCA hopes that this racing series will inspire other Porsche Clubs to consider sim racing and possibly one day join PCA and PCGB in an international race. The Porsche Community Management is also taking on board this new idea.
It looks like iRacing encourages borderless creativity. Not without reason, as costs for racing simulators are relatively low, the fun factor high and the bonding element stays the same: the passion for Porsche. Furthermore, sim racing is not impeded by any social distancing – it is part of the online world. No wonder then that sim racing has gained significantly in popularity lately, serving as an attractive addition to the online activities of the Clubs. “In these challenging times full of social distance caution, we are happy to share our PCA Sim Racing camaraderie and general Porsche enthusiasm with Porsche Clubs worldwide,” says Tom Gorsuch, National President of PCA. And as a true sportsman, he is looking forward to a respectful and fair race: “We wish the Porsche Club Great Britain the best of luck in this two-race sim racing series event.” And Jim Hemig, PCA National Marketing Director, who is the force behind the event on the PCA side adds: “I have had Club members comment that sim racing is some of the best racing, either in sim or in real life, that they have ever seen. If you are a fan of Porsche motorsports, you will have to watch the PCA vs PCGB Sim Racing Challenge.” And Mark Phillips, who initiated the project on the PCGB side, looks at the social dimensions of the event: “At a time when we’re all being forced apart, it’s a delight that we’re actually coming together with our fellow Porsche enthusiasts across the pond. It’s going to be a fun event, and I hope a lasting legacy.”
Edwina Pike is happy to return the wishes of PCA to her colleagues from “overseas”: “We are excited to take on our PCA friends in this head-to-head cross-Atlantic challenge,” says the Chair of Porsche Club Great Britain, being sure that “many PCGB members will be tuning into the live feed to cheer on our racers and enjoy the hyper-realistic and exciting experience that sim racing delivers. We wish the PCA racers the best of luck in the series and look forward to sharing some of our favourite tracks. See you Saturday!”
Nevertheless, it remains the case that no online race can replace the emotions and excitement of driving a Porsche on real tarmac and the track. But this first ever, spectacular Porsche Club sim race is the beginning of a new legacy and shouldn’t be missed by any Porsche Club enthusiast worldwide.
Porsche Club of America is streaming both races on YouTube, and Porsche Club News has embedded the stream here on our webpage. So, get ready! PCA vs PCGB, Saturday, 16 May, 4 pm US Eastern Time, 9 pm Greenwich/10 pm Central European Summer Time. See you here on Porsche Club News.