Photo: CXC Simulations

Stanaway dominates; Schmidt returns in iRacing Pro Race of Champions

Leave a comment

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 iRacing.com/live.

“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.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

Leave a comment

Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).