Video: The Journey of the iRacers

Two sim racing champions had the opportunity to join the Mazda Club Racer Shootout and proved that iRacing is a good training ground.

The Mazda Club Racer Shootout has, for several years now, been the ultimate springboard from amateur to professional racing. In 2014 it expanded, creating a possible conduit straight from sim racing – computer based racing competition – to the professional ranks. In theory, someone who had no racing experience at all could step straight into the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires for the 2015 season.

The two winners of iRacing’s second and third season of MX-5 Cup weren’t quite that green, but certainly some doubted their ability to get into the real thing and turn some decent lap times. Especially given the wet conditions at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on the day of the track test portion last December, it would not be an easy task. Yet both Steven Diem of Kailua, Hawaii, and Frenchman Evan Maillard proved that they had what it took to get the job done.

“iRacing is great tool for real racing,” says Diem, who had some karting and racing school experience prior to racing MX-5 Cup on iRacing. “You learn the characteristics of the car before you get inside a real car. Once I got over the g-forces and was able to focus on the driving, I was driving it with the same mindset as the sim. I was able to push and correct the car when I needed to.”

Much of that is attributable to the way that iRacing produces its tracks and cars – as accurately as possible. That allowed Diem and Maillard to get quickly up to speed and put in some decent lap times.

Although neither won in the end – that honor went to Kyle Loustaunau – Diem and Maillard had an incredible journey. See it in the video above.