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DICKINSON: Wrapping Up the Sim Season

Riley Dickinson files his latest Sportscar365 column, wrapping up his ‘season’ of sim racing…

Image: iRacing

Since my previous column, quite a bit has occurred in the virtual world as well as the real world. From attending my high school graduation to finishing up the sim season on a high note, the past few weeks have been action packed!

To wrap up the “sim season”, the ACI Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge had two events and the IMSA iRacing Pro Series had one event. 

The ACI Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge traveled to Road Atlanta and then Sebring to finish off the championship. David Moore and I were both really looking forward to these races because Road Atlanta is my favorite track, while Sebring is one of David’s. 

When the sim schedule was announced for the championship, I immediately circled Road Atlanta as the track I couldn’t wait to race at virtually.

Since the first lap I tuned in my Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car last year, I have been in love with the track. What makes Road Atlanta even more special to me is that’s where I won my first race in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama last year, during my rookie season.

That entire race weekend in October 2019 is one of my favorite racing memories to date.

When the virtual race day rolled around for round five of the series, David and I were both confident with our prep work. As for the actual event, it went very smoothly for me and at the end of the forty-five minute race, I captured the win. David Moore had a very solid run as well finishing in the top fifteen.

Image: iRacing

The race at Sebring was the complete polar opposite of Road Atlanta. There were a lot of on track battles, intense racing, and some drama sprinkled in as well.

For essentially the entire race, the top four were constantly battling. Elliott Skeer, Eric Foss, Moritz Kranz, and I had great battles all year and this race was no exception! We fought like crazy in our virtual Porsche 911s for the entire forty-five minutes and it was easily the most fun I’ve had in a sim race.

If you want to watch any of the ACI Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge events, you can find the broadcast over on Apex Racing TV’s YouTube channel!

Next up was the grand finale of my “sim season”. The IMSA iRacing Pro Series concluded its championship at Watkins Glen. 

Before the final event, the championship had admittedly not gone the way I would have hoped. Whether it was due to mistakes on my end or circumstances that were completely out of my control, I had yet to have a nice clean ninety minutes of racing. I was determined to have a clean race, and to make sure this one ended differently.

Just like with the previous events, David Moore and I spent hours upon hours going through our testing program that we adapted from the real world.

When we arrived at race day, we knew that we necessarily didn’t have the fastest outright qualifying pace. However, our long run pace was fairly competitive, and had a shot at a decent result if we were able to stay out of trouble during the race. 

In qualifying I made a small mistake that cost me and ended up in thirtieth out of fifty drivers. Don’t get me wrong I was disappointed in myself, but since I knew we had the long run pace in our back pocket, I was looking forward to having an entertaining race.  

Image: iRacing

For those who don’t know the format of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series races, it’s a 90-minute race with a competition caution splitting the race into two 45-minute stints. 

During the first stint I was slowly picking my way through the field and was in twenty-third when the caution was thrown. With our pitstop strategy, we were able to jump a couple more positions once everyone cycled through their pit stops. 

What’s always been fun about these events, not just for the drivers but also the fans, is how much the intensity ramps up in that final stint. By the time we went back to green, we had about thirty-eight minutes left of racing and it was an all-out sprint to the finish. 

Just like in the first stint, I picked my way through the field even further and I ended up finishing in thirteenth. What’s pretty funny to me is that I’ve never been so happy for finishing in thirteenth.

It was my best finish in the series but ultimately I was pleased to have finished the “sim season” on a high note by having a solid result in my Moorespeed Porsche 911 RSR virtual racer.  

The entire motorsports world during this downtime has been very fortunate to be the only form of professional sports that has been able to continue competing at a high level.

Without the great minds from iRacing and IMSA, this “sim season” wouldn’t have been conceivable. A huge thank you goes to everyone involved at iRacing and IMSA for your hard work making this “sim season” possible.

Not only did it allow drivers to continue to compete, but most importantly it kept racing fans entertained and connected to our sport. It truly has been quite an enjoyable experience!

Photo: Supplied

After concluding the ACI GT3 Cup Challenge, the next day was my high school graduation. The elephant in the room with all graduations the past month has been COVID-19 and how to go forward with the ceremony, if at all. We were lucky enough that ours did end up happening. 

In my opinion, even though it was dramatically different, I thought it was more special than a normal graduation.

On our football field, from goal line to goal line, there was a sea of red which was all the students in their cap and gowns. Even though we were each spread out six feet apart, having all five hundred and sixty students taking up the entire field had a very cool feel to it. 

After I walked the stage and returned back to my seat, there were a few things swimming around in my head. The one thing that kept coming up was the appreciation I have for all my teachers. 

Because of my passion for racing, I have always missed quite a bit of school. This goes all the way back to third grade. Without every single one of my teachers that helped me get ahead of my work before I left and caught back up once I returned, I probably wouldn’t have been able to pursue racing because my education has always been the top priority.

Once I arrived at high school, the frequency of me leaving began to pick up exponentially. Which coincidentally went hand in hand with the toughness of the courses I took on. 

With that being said, I can’t stress it enough how much I appreciate my teachers for everything. Whether it’s been helping me through topics when I was or wasn’t absent, without them I wouldn’t have been able to simultaneously race and then finish High School in the top ten percent of my class. THANK YOU!

Now that the “sim season” has wrapped up, my next entry for Sportscar365 will go in depth as to how the Moorespeed team and I are transitioning back into the real world as we get prepared for our first event July 31 at Road America!  

Riley Dickinson (@RileyD253) is the 2020 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, competing in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama with Moorespeed.

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