Photo: CXC Simulations

Stanaway dominates; Schmidt returns in iRacing Pro Race of Champions

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The fifth annual iRacing Pro Race of Champions held Wednesday night featured a great field, but a runaway performance by 24-year-old Kiwi rising star Richie Stanaway.

Stanaway, a full-time competitor in both the GP2 Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship, the latter with Aston Martin Racing, led flag-to-flag from pole in the 20-lap race at the Watkins Glen International short course.

The race saw 24 drivers compete online in BMW Z4 GT3s; Stanaway will also have $2,500 in his name dedicated to the Justin Wilson Children’s Fund.

NASCAR’s Timmy Hill and Jay Beasley completed the podium, with Chris Dymond and Ben Waddell rounding out the top five.

Other notables who competed included 24 Hours of Le Mans overall winner Nick Tandy, Alex Gurney, Michael Lewis, Spencer Pumpelly, Tommy Kendall, Justin Bell, Martin Plowman, Ron Capps, Benny Simonsen and Bradley Philpot.

But no driver was worth watching as much as Sam Schmidt, in a specially designed CXC Simulator in California, in his first race of any kind since an accident in testing an IndyCar in 2000.

Schmidt, using only his head and mouth to operate and steer the car in the same way he did in a modified Corvette from Arrow Electronics, finished 16th after starting 23rd. He’d only qualified a little more than two seconds off Stanaway’s pole time, which was mightily impressive.

“This process started two years ago… then got thrown together in four months,” Schmidt said, via PSR TV, which hosted the live stream of the race via

“Doing Long Beach and stuff like this is incredible. The technology is very realistic, very intuitive. It’s allowed me to drive. I think God for the people at ARROW who took this on. It’s opened a lot of doors for a lot of people.”

Schmidt had to pit early in the virtual race but kept pressing on. Noting his competitive nature, the IndyCar team co-owner wanted to do better than 16th!

“Someone was completely facing me, I guess if I could have seen the replay … but 3:30 in pits killed the whole race. I drove rest of race without incident. Yes, 16th was disappointing. But considering the nature of the field and how much others drive, it was a blast. So much fun. Everyone has said this would be super cool.”

Schmidt isn’t slowing down, and as he continued the interview, he noted some future goals.

“We started in a simulator with all of this bolted on. Then bolted it from sim to the Corvette. They think it’s real elaborate swap over, and it’s not.

“The simulator allows them to do the testing.ARROW bought a new Z06. The target for 16 is to get our license. Maybe we do Pikes Peak and a few others.”

Schmidt’s already planning an encore for the iPRoC.

“If I get invited back, I’ll do it again. I’d love a top-10 finish. I had a blast. Can’t wait for next year.”

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 


For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.