Story By: JOE GRABIANOWSKI / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – Since the inception of sim racing, fans have dreamt of taking their virtual skills and applying them on a real-world race track. Bryce Bailey, from Waverly, NY, has used winnings from iRacing leagues and specials to help put himself on track in a DIRTcar Sportsman Modified.
Bailey, a rising iRacing talent, won the first DIRTcar eSports race behind the wheel of a Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified against a field of premier iRacing pros and real-world drivers alike. Now, he is taking his real signature red #2B to Lake View Motor Speedway in South Carolina along with nearly 40 other DIRTcar Sportsman Modified drivers.
Bailey is not the first and certainly not the last to go from virtual-to-reality racing. In 2008, Nissan created a program to train sim drivers on the Playstation game Gran Turismo with the intention of putting them into real race cars and did so with success.
In 2021, iRacing leads the world in auto racing simulation. With the introduction of Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds and DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, dirt track drivers and fans can hone their skills on the virtual dirt in the same race cars we race on tracks across the Northeast, Canada, and down through the eastern US.
“The hand-eye coordination you get from iRacing separates the kids now,” Bailey said. “Kids are coming up so fast. We have so many resources to fall back on. The feel of iRacing may not be exact but we’re still staying sharp. It helps you read tracks too as far as what lines you need to run, especially with Weedsport Speedway on here now. The lines you run on Weedsport are the same you would run in real life.”
In addition to his DIRTcar eSports checkered flag, where he held off some of the best in the business, Bailey won the Empire Super Sprint iRacing Series plus other leagues and high profile money races. Now, he is focused on taking that iRacing success to his DIRTcar Sportsman Modified program, starting with Lake View.
Last year, Bailey bought a four-cylinder asphalt racer and won at Lake Erie Speedway against a very strong field of Race of Champions drivers. Now he’s ready for the dirt.
“I ran twice in my Sportsman Modified last year, but 2021 will be my true rookie season,” he said. “This race at Lake View coming up is already one of the most prestigious DIRTcar Sportsman races you can run with all the money they are putting up down there in purse and bonuses.”
The South of the Border Showdown marks the first time DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds have raced at Lake View Motor Speedway. Although Bailey is up against the best Sportsman drivers out of the Northeast like Kevin Root, Andrew Buff, Zach Sobotka, Kevin Ridley, Tyler Cocoran, and Alan Fink, they will all see Lake View for the first time starting on Thursday, Jan. 28, with a free-to-the-public practice session. That levels the playing field a degree in terms of experience.
“There are a ton of top runners down there,” Bailey said. “Anyone that has won in a Sportsman is going like Kevin Root. The goal is to make the show and maybe get a top 15 but if we can keep our nose clean I’ll be happy. I gotta keep my goals realistic. Kevin Root and I have the same sponsor, FX Caprara. He’s already played a role in my career in helping me out. We actually traded iRacing help for some real-life racing help.”
Bailey has big plans for the rest of 2021, too.
“This year’s plan is to run DIRTcar shows,” he said. “We’ll be at Brewerton, Fulton, Weedsport, Can-Am, plus the big shows. We’ll hit up what we can and race as much as possible.”
Watch Bailey and the stars of the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds take on Lake View Motor Speedway Thursday-Sunday, January 28-30 live on Speed51.
Turn on DIRTVision tonight, Wednesday, January 27, for free and catch the season 2 DIRTcar eSports finale featuring the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds at Lernerville plus Street Stocks at Lanier. Racing begins at 7pm(ET) live only on DIRTVision.