The last three months have been great for OnlineRaceDriver. We celebrated our first year anniversary in January, which coincided with a big increase in traffic, which has kept going for the last three months, and shows no sign of slowing down. We published a load of stories, added a forum (which you should go and register on, as it’s been quiet so far, but we’ve got some big plans), and also started to get more support from various companies involved in online race games – the latest include the amazing team at iRacing, the wonderful people at Roxio, and the friendly PR people at Indigo Pearl, to name but a few).
The month of April is significant for me for a few reasons, besides the fact racing really gets underway, and it struck me that I’ve not really explained why I started this site and continue to develop it alongside two full time businesses and raising a family.
The background to OnlineRaceDriver:
It all really goes back to my father, who has been into cars and motorcycles for most of his life. He never quite got to the stage of actually racing, but his passion for automotives and motorsport meant that I grew up surrounded by magazines, models and motorsport on TV. And some of the earliest family outings were to local circuits Brands Hatch and Lydden Hill to watch Rallycross in particular.
It was great timing as the late 80s saw Group B rally cars ineligible for rallying following the sad death of Henri Toivenen and his co-driver, so many of the legendary machines made their way into Rallycross, which for the unitiated, is circuit racing with off-road sections. So I got to stand a few feet away from a field of cars usually including the likes of Will Gollop’s Metro 6R4, Martin Schanche’s Ford RS200 and Dimi Mavropoulos in his black Audi Quattro.
Bikes were also a big part of my youth, as soon as I was able to reach the pillion footpegs, so out trips then included British Superbikes, World Superbikes and GPs. And as I got a bit older, we went further afield – Donington, Silverstone, etc.
So that’s the real world bit almost done, except for one thing.
While I didn’t get any closer to racing competitively than my father, I did get more involved. Besides cars and bikes, one of my other passions was writing, and I’d always dreamed of being a journalist. So what better fulltime job could I have somehow lucked into after university, than on the world’s biggest motorcycle paper and website at Motorcycle News. I got to meet and talk to racers (some of whom had been my heroes for years), ride on trackdays, and indulge my passion for motorsport with a bunch of other people who spent thier lives immersed in engines and racing. (I’d actually also lucked out by getting work experience and my first bit of freelance work for the Official Dreamcast Magazine – the paid printed work probably helped a lot in getting my foot in the door at MCN).
It was around that time that I first thought about the idea which became ORD, but for various reasons it never really came to fruition until 2010 – by which time I’d left MCN. And when I decided to start my own businesses, ORD became a much larger part of everyday life.
So why start OnlineRaceDriver?
There’s some simple logic behind ORD. You don’t get many general sports magazines or writers, because there’s a world of difference between basketball and golf. And when you look at music, or film, you’ll also tend to find a huge number of titles which focus on one specific type or genre. And yet all the big games magazines and websites all try to cover pretty much everything.
You might play every type of game, from platformers to strategy games, but often you’ll find you might prefer particular genres. And all too often I’ve read reviews written by game journalists who openly admit to not enjoying particular types of game, but were forced to cover them because noone else was available. Or they were writing about things they’d never had the briefest experience of.
I’ve not only played games for a long time (Roughly 27 years, but I did start very young!), but I’ve also played a lot of racing games. They’ve ranged from the brilliant to the terrible, the accurate to the bizarre. And I’ve followed the apparently impossible challenge of simulating a motorcycle and rider on a screen (probably the best attempts have been TT Superbikes and Tourist Trophy for the PS2 for the record).
So why couldn’t there be a site which covered racing games in-depth, and was written by people who not only loved virtual racing, but either had a lot of experience in racing games, or some experience of real world racing either as a competitor or involved in some other way?
At the same time, racing games were really coming of age with the likes of iRacing, Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo etc, but also with the rise in online gaming for console owners. PCs were getting more powerful and relatively cheap, and were getting slightly easier to use, but still require a little bit of effort to work for gaming. But the Xbox really started simple and effective online gaming for console owners, followed by the rival efforts of Sony’s PS3 and the handheld market starting to get in on the act. Now you can also include mobile phones and tablets!
And finally, it’s about you – the gamers. Online racing may not carry quite as much physical danger as real world racing, but to race competitively definitely requires a lot of skill and commitment. Simulations now require as much virtual tuning as you’d expect for a real world team, and the amount of feedback is increasing all the time. Projects like the GT Academy have led to gamers proving their real racing skills and going on to compete at a very high level, and virtual racers such as Greger Huttu have shown they can jump into a race car for the first time and post laps far beyond what you might expect, all from their experience with a sim racing game.
So why should there be a place that covers the virtual racing and virtual racers with as much respect as any other motorsport? If professional racers are not only using games to learn new tracks but also competing on a regular basis, that’s a sign of the level gaming has reached.Various types of game have given rise to professional gamers competing in global tournaments, and becoming famous in various countries, and I hope ORD can be a part of raising the fame of online racing to a wider audience – particularly as it’s such as instantly identifiable experience for non-gamers.
So that’s it really. I hope this site can:
- Help more people find out about online racing – particularly the clubs, tournaments and racers.
- Help all online racers to find ways to get faster and enjoy themselves more.
- Keep up with the latest news, reviews and videos – all written by people who love and understand racing.
And I’m also hoping you can help in lots of ways:
- Want to write for us?
- Want to keep us updated on your club/tournament?
- Why not share your views and insights in the comments, or in the forum?
- Recommend our site to friends, family, or strangers you meet in the street?
- ‘Like’ us on Facebook or ‘Follow’ us on Twitter
- Send us your suggestions for what you’d like to see on the site, or what would help your racing
- And if you’re interested, then the ORD Racing Team is always open to new drivers across all games and formats.
Thanks for reading the site (and this length explanation), and hope you enjoy what we do!
P.S. I couldn’t not mention all the people who have helped with the site so far: GTDon, Tom Bowker, Kalpesh, Gareth,Steve,Chris, Wren, and Jigowatt, who kindly donated our lovely logo. And finally my family for understanding why my ‘leisure’ time is spent either working on the site, or trying to become a better online racer…