ust as I did when my close friend Tom Wallace had been on the service for 45 days, I also believe Luke deserves a little bit of recognition on his 45th day as an iRacer.
Just like Tom, I knew Luke for a good few years prior to him joining iRacing (school mates), and (just like Tom) he had all the latest racing sims (for PlayStation) - but not iRacing.
As Tom did on the 17th August, 2021 - Luke too decided to join the dark side.
"Upon looking through Luke's results, it very much appears as though he's looking to get his money's worth - there ain't a damn series he's not raced - or even practiced in"
R. Truswell, 2022
Luke's Story So Far...
Shortly after 10pm, on the 11th February, 2022, out of the blue, I got a message from a good old friend of mine telling me he got iRacing.
Luke joined the service (apparently) at 01:00am, but I'm entirely trusting him on that one.
The story goes (as I was told) that he got a new PC (earlier in the week) and hence bought iRacing for its online system - the exact reason I did.
By the time I found out he was on the service, he had already done one practice and one race.
Coincidentally, his very first practice and race was at the very same circuit (and indeed layout) as my first practice - so I could almost immediately see where we lined up.
RT: 1:01.500 (2019)
LM: 0.57.848 (2022)
All-Time Fastest Lap
RT: 57.962 (Race) ('19)
LM: 54.282 (Race) ('22)
Before getting into Luke's first race, it's worth noting that iRacing has no idea: how good Luke is (or his skill level) - the first race is always a matter of "throwing names into a hat" to decide splits
Luke's First Race
After half an hour practice, Luke's first race started at 9pm (11th Feb).
He'd qualify 5th out of 12 runners.
According to the lap-chart provided to me, Luke had quite the nightmare of a start, falling all the way down to 9th by the end of the second lap.
Luke takes this on the chin, and every lap forth is a recovery drive - eventually putting him in the podium positions with 7 laps to go.
On the penultimate lap, Luke does one better and sneaks up into the top 2. His family and team (him and his mechanics) are delighted and champagne is sprayed.
Luke's FL: 55.071
Luke's Ave. Lap: 56.904
A Dominant Start
After telling him all about the service, third-party add on and everything else one must know about iRacing, Luke would go on a simply unstoppable streak of stellar results in the same combo - the very next race after this, getting POLE!
R1 (11/02/2022) Q: 5th | R: 2nd (already mentioned) (10th split) R2 (11/02/2022) Q: POLE | R: 2nd (7th Split)
R3 (12/02/2022) Q: 3rd | R: 3rd (5th Split)
R4 (12/02/2022) Q: 3rd | R: 4th (First non-podium) (5th split)
R5 (12/02/2022) Q: 3rd | R: 4th (4th split)
Following this, (at about 8:30pm on the 12th Feb, 2022) he was promoted to Class-D Licence - escaping rookies in just under 24 hours.
After this success, and with a sponsorship with IKEA (to install trophy shelves in his house), Luke next tried two new series - the Formula Vee (just like Tom and I- didn't like it) and the Sim Lab Production Car Challenge.
Whilst the Global Mazda Cup (of before) was a single-make championship, the Sim Lab Production Car Challenge pitched the Mazda MX5 Cup up against the Volkswagen Jetta (TDI Cup), Ford Mustang FR500S (that I'm getting slight feelings for) and the Pontiac "Slowstice" Solstice.
At the Nurburgring GP, things....didn't quite go to plan after he started 13th and finished 20th - after a dominating start, iRacing may have just put him in a split a LITTLE too high - after all, he did go from 10th split (random) to the 4th split.
After promotion, there are Slightly fewer who "willingly self-destruct" every corner.
Luke finished the series with a very impressive 5th place finish from 7th on the grid - managing to not pick up a single incident point along the way.
Moving On Up
Now with a Class-D Licence, Luke now had more freedom and choice of series he could race in.
With NO input from me WHATSOEVER, Luke chose to race in the Ferrari 488 GT3 Challenge series (solely his decision, might I just add)
Luke's first iRacing purchases were the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo (Felicia, for those that know) and Spa - one of the best circuits in the world (in my opinion).
Since he was in a slightly more "professional" scene, I asked Luke if he wanted one of Kabort's liveries - he declined, saying he was part of the "Default Skin Gang" (no need for trading paints or a fancy livery!)
IKEA didn't mind and continued installing shelves despite this comment.
Luke's First GT3 Race- Spa Francorchamps, 13/02/2022
At 7:07pm, Luke jumped into his first official (practice) session in a GT3 Car.
8 minutes after this, the Open Practice Session for Luke's race in the Ferrari GT3 Challenge race at Spa opened up...
The race didn't go EXACTLY to plan, but such is racing - GT3 racing is an entirely different ball-game to Rookie Mazdas, and after another race (that night) qualifying 5th - it was clear that Luke was quickly learning the ropes
Lukes GT3 Results
R1 (13/02/2022): Q: 13th | R: 16th (5 Inc.)
R2 (13/02/2022): Q: 5th | R: 13th
Despite the two races, GT3 wasn't touched all too often after this.
Back To One's Roots
As Luke had achieved 100% of his trophies (up until that point) in the Global Mazda Cup, Luke returned to his roots and raced in both the Sim-Lab Production Car Series and Global Mazda Cup Series simultaneously.
During this period, Luke managed to fill up his Ikea-Branded wooden shelves with silverware
A Phenomenal Return: Luke's Trophies
After returning to the Global Mazda Cup Luke was on the podium for:
14/02/2022 - Summit Point (Same layout) (Global Mazda Cup) Q: 2nd | R: 2nd
15/02/2022 - Oulton Park (Fosters) (Global MX5 Cup) Q: 2nd | R: 1st (FIRST WIN!)
02/23/202 - Red Bull Ring (Advanced Mazda Cup) Q: Pole | R: 1st (0.2 Secs off getting a Grand Chelem) (Luke achieved a podium in three different countries!)
The Stuff In Between
It wasn't all success for Luke - some races went well (as mentioned), and other times, they wouldn't go so great - but the main important thing was that he kept powering on.
Whilst not chugging down bubbly, Luke could be seen in the Top 10 (in most cases Top 5 even) in the Mazda Series - only occasional shoddy races here and there popping up now and then.
On the 16th February, he tried the Formula 3 car and then proceeded to never race it again (much like the GT3).
This also became the case with the Kia Optima and Legends Car
Luke Goes American
At 9pm, on 27th February (2022), Luke tried out a stock car at the incredibly short USA International Speedway in the aptly named "Street Stock (Rookie) Series"
Luke had an absolute dream race - getting into 3rd about 1/4 of the way into the race and held it there.
To give an idea about the competition Luke was up against, here's a little stat wall:
- 15 Competitors
- 8 from the USA
- 11 from either North/Central/South America
- 2 from the UK
- 2 from "DEATCH" (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
Luke kept this form up, coming second at the USA International Speedway (from 7th) - as this was earlier in the evening, there was a little more "internationality" to it.
A Summary Of Luke's Street Stock Results:
R1 (27/02/2022) - USA International Speedway - Q: 9th | R: 3rd
R2 (28/02/2022) - USA International Speedway - Q: 7th | R: 2nd
R3 (28/02/2022) - USA International Speedway - Q: 7th | R: 10th
R4 (03/02/2022) - South Boston N'l Park (SOBO) Q: 15th | R: 8th (W12/W12)
New Discipline: New Adventure
As quickly as he picked up the Street Stock, it suddenly vanished from his results, instead, being replaced by many series (including the welcome return of the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo (I'm not biased, I swear)
This "return to Europe" began with an experiment in the (VW) Rallycross car - this was quickly dropped thereafter.
One quick race in the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo at Hockenheim on the 3rd March satisfied me for the month, before Luke found his next "Star Car"
I say car...it's one of the least "car-y" cars on the iRacing service: It's none other than the LUCAS Off-Road Pro 2 Lite Truck. Luke absolutely DOMINATED in this series - I'll let the stats do the talking
*SOF - Strength of field (Higher SOF - higher the difficulty)
3 Poles, (100% front row record), 3 wins (and indeed 3 Grand Chelems) and 4 podiums - yes, only a maximum of 6 took part - but a win is a win.
Admittedly, the event at the top was just Luke on his own, but he entered and indeed finished.
Return Of The Oval Dominator: Obscure Series Ahead
On the subject of Bizarre Cars Luke Has Driven, Luke also drove the SK Modified car (another oval car) intermittently from the 4th March - 5th March, whilst he scored no podiums, he never finished any of these outside of the top 10. (well, ok, 1)
Luke only continued to find more and more obscure and interesting oval races to race in. As of March 26th, 2022, he's raced in: Road
Global Mazda Cup
Advanced Mazda Cup
Production Cup Challenge
Ferrari GT3 Challenge
Fanatec Global Challenge
LMP2 Prototype Challenge
D: 12th Feb
C: 16th Feb B: 25th Mar.
Oval (Dirt & Asphalt)
Dirt Street Stock Series
SK Modified Weekly Series
ARCA Mendards Series
Dirt Oval: Will be promoted to D next race
Asphalt Oval: Promoted to D 2nd March, 2022
Dirt Road (Rallycross/Off-Road Series)
iRacing Rallycross Series
Pro 2 Lite OFF-ROAD Series
Pro 4 OFF-ROAD Series
Promoted To D: 4th March, 2022
So, How do the three musketeers compare today?
Some would argue that this is "simply not fair" as I've been on the service since 2019, but I've been at University since September 2020 (with breaks of course) and Tom has taken full advantage of that and not just caught up, but has overtaken me in several aspects.
Luke is 6 months down on Tom, but Luke is already beating Tom on starts AND total (road) laps complete
Luke isn't just near Tom either - he's beating my laps led, front rows and is safer than me - give it a month (or two) and this table could look very different indeed with some of the green bars heading to the right of screen.
Watch out, Luke's coming!