Awhile back, I read an article on Yahoo! about a kid pursuing a racing career via iRacing. In case you don’t click on the link to check out the story yourself, I’ll tell you that said story starts out mentioning that this kid in his late teens ran 16 NASCAR-sanctioned races in 2014, winning three times and leading twice as many laps as his closest competition. Oh, and the story goes on to mention that he won a NASCAR title that year.
Sure, it’s an attention grabbing lede (beginning of a news story), and that’s important in attracting readers. But I think that lede was a little misleading. This guy was “winning races and championships” from the comfort of home, via iRacing.
This kid is quoted in the article as saying, “One day I want people to know me as a real NASCAR driver.”
Yeah, I realize iRacing is more serious than your run-of-the-mill racing video game, and some of the real stars of the sport utilize the simulation to practice for actual races, applauding iRacing’s “realness.” But still, it isn’t really real.
I also realize that Dale Earnhardt Jr. discovered his longtime spotter on iRacing, but there’s a big difference between driving a race car and spotting for one.
I’m not sure how serious this kid is about a future racing career, specifically at the top levels of NASCAR. If he’s serious, I’m thinking he’s going to need to find a real ride in some kind of real race car in some series somewhere — late model, sprint car, something. I realize that’s easier said than done, but I’m pretty sure that’s real life in the racing world.
And given the young age of some of today’s biggest stars and how young they were when they started their “real racing” careers, this kid’s running out of time. In the story, he was described as a 17-year-old, but I’m not clear if that was his age when the story was published in April 2015 or when he became a “NASCAR champ” in 2014.
Serious or not, or whether this kid’s racing career goes anywhere, I have to say that Yahoo!’s description of him as “NASCAR champ” kinds bugs me a little. Okay, so that title is preceded by the word, “online,” but still. And does someone winning some races in virtual reality really warrant such attention as this story provides? What about the “future NFL star” exhibiting his skill on Madden?
Maybe I’m some kind of old fuddy-duddy, but that’s just my view. Take it or leave it.
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