Before August 17th, 2021, not a single one of my friends played iRacing.
I previously invited two of my friends - Jack and Daniel, but neither managed an official race - and neither touched the sim over a month after they joined...but Tom was different...
Myself and Tom used to race each other at Daytona Sandown Park Kart Circuit in Esher back when we were young teenagers between 2013 and 2015, before I moved up and out to Buckmore Park for the next three years.
Simply put, whilst we were friends and in constant contact, I strongly believe we were slipping - me not karting since 2017 (let alone at Sandown) and being pre-occupied with School and then college meant that I really didn't see much of him - either virtually or in person and, admittedly, at times he wasn't at the top of my head.
Tom was thoroughly into and interested in sim-racing - he had all the biggest road-racing titles including: Assetto, F1 titles, RFactor and Gran Turismo Sport - .
In short, I've known Tom for a very long time, we used to do Karting together, but I/my dad ran out of money and time eventually got between us.
1) The Beginnings
iRacing always did pop up in conversation fairly occasionally, but like I was hooked to iRacing, Tom was always a bit hesitant - the fact that you didn't "unlock" cars (through the levels) and the steep subscription and content price not doing any favours to win Tom over.
Whilst Tom did touch iRacing in the Carlin iRacing Cup, he never properly "sat down and had a proper go" - it was more - do F3, finish race, go onto the next thing.
2) Proper Contact
I don't know from when we started talking a lot more frequently, but it's been so long that I can't say from when this started - but looking back through the achieves, it looks like the end of last year/beginning of this year (there MAY have been a period between June and December 2020 where we didn't talk...ahem...)
But after this it was just like the last time we met - banterous, like good old friends.
3) Tom Is Sucked In...
Around mid-August I recieved a message that Tom would be getting iRacing after he sold his PlayStation...result! Now the waiting game began!
Not too long after this, he sold his PS4 to game along with some games...
Time to shape Tom into a PROPER racer!
Obviously, to begin with, we set all the admin-ny things up like the Discord etc, but then it was time to hit the changing rooms.
4) Getting Ready
The next task at hand was to head to the paint shop to get a beautiful sparkly helmet for Tom - after going out and getting his PS4 sold, he was back and ready for some action.
Eventually Tom would be allocated his iRacing Customer ID (account number) that would stay for him for the rest of his iRacing life - all I'll say is it's "super nice" - the rest is for him to disclose.
After making his account look a little less "nooby" it was time for him to hit the track.
5 hours after creating his account, he'd finish his first race.
First things first - finshing your very first race is a HUGE achievement in itself - All iRacing has to judge on you is a name...so a massive props to him.
Not only did he finish - Tom also managed to squeeze out an incredible podium out of it as well, starting from the second row.
Eager to find out if this was just a fluke - or a "bad grid" (it wasn't - the strength of field was at 1288) - Tom decided to do another race.
He was unfortunately taken out, such is rookie racing - especially at Oulton. Despite this, he still didn't give up - grabbing his second podium and second 2nd place finish in three races...this kid was obviously going places.
~ The following evening, he'd come back to iRacing (longer than any of my other friends lasted...) and he had a go in the Formula Vees.
My fastest lap around Lime Rock Park (Chicanes): 1:11.456 (-2.278)
Tom's fastest lap around Lime Rock Park (Chicanes): 1:09.178
(Both taken from Practice Sessions)
Although he'd finish 4th, he was understandably much more comfortable in the Mazdas with ABS and grippy rear wheels.
After more bad luck in both the Formula Vee (at Austria) and the following Mazda race, he'd call it a night.
Something must have clicked overnight - or he may have been dreaming of Mazdas because the following afternoon, when he returned to the sim, he absolutely BOSSED it - getting his first pole, win and Grand Chelem.
Following another dominant race like this, (albeit not picking up the fastest lap in the second race), Tom would be promoted to a D-Class Licence. In his first 8 races, that's an incredible performance and achievement - especially given how rough and rocky the rookie series can be.
Whilst I did one race per week, I managed it in my 7th Race - so whilst I did it quicker in terms of overall race count, to get a D-Licence on his 3rd whole day of iRacing is pretty baffling.
Tom would pop out of rookies with an iRating of 1505, when I popped out of rookies, I was at a measly (in comparison) 1044 - and mine would only plunge from there.
Being a D...ha ha ha - Being a D-Licenced driver meant three things for Tom:
1) Graphs on his profile would now track his iRating and licence level
2) He'd have access to the Ferrari 488 GT3 Challenged (Fixed Setup)
3) He could compete in the most difficult - yet lowest licenced endurance series on the sim: The Nurburgring Endurance Championship.
As it was Week 10 (Out Of 12) when Tom joined, he'd finish the season in Mazdas - showing the others who was boss by winning his third race on the trot just two days later and then finishing 3rd at Oran Park in his first race of the new week - meaning he had officially finished on the podium on every track he's raced a Mazda at...impressive stat.
Following this, he'd do one more race during Week 11 (4th) before finishing up at Laguna Seca with another 4th - unfortunately breaking this "record" of podiums. Following Truswell's path, Tom would agree to race in the 488 GT3 Challenge for the next season and with this...
KBM's Academy Endurance Team (KAET) would sign him up for the next season in GT3's with the hope of giving him a leg up into the VRS Endurance Championship for his third season (S1, 2022)
As for the Rookie season he had just finished?
- 4 Front Row Starts
- 9/12 Finishes were in the Top 5 (3/12 outside Top 10)
- 6/12 Finishes were podiums (3 wins)
- 1 Grand Chelem (Pole, Win, Fastest Lap)
- 11/12 Races had an incident count of lower than 10 (10/12 were 5 or Below | - 3/12 were 1 Inc.
- 1772 was his highest Strength Of Field (average iRating Of Drivers in race) Finished at: 1741 iRating | I finished my first season at: 1135 IR
My fastest lap around Oulton Park (Fosters): 1:08.257 (-0.727)
Tom's fastest lap around Oulton Park (Fosters): 1:07.530
(Both taken from Practice Sessions)
Tom refused to do the Nurburgring Endurance Championship as he had never driven a GT3 before on iRacing - and with just 10 days before the event, it just wasn't going to happen.
Season 4, 2021 - 21/9/2021 Onwards
After spending Week 13 on his superyacht in Abu Dhabi...oh wait, wrong intel...after spending Week 13 in his fishing boat in Portsmouth Arena, Tom returned to the track reset and re-juvinated and ready for a new challenge
In a Mazda, though tight, Summit Point isn't the worst circuit on the calendar, and can prove to be quite fun at times...in a GT3, it's a whole different ball-game.
You've got a big, wide(ish) car going pretty darn fast...and Tom smashed it in his first race.
From 2nd on the grid, Tom would keep it together - and more importantly, keep the competition behind to get his first ever GT3 podium - if he can keep this up, then the VRS GT Endurance competitors we face better watch out!
Tom shook of the D pretty quickly.
Yes. I did just write that.
For about a month (24 days to be exact) and 5 races, Tom held a D-Class licence - in his very first Ferrari GT3 Challenge race he shook it off and emerged with a beautiful, clean, shiny, gleaming C-Class licence, allowing him to do the GT VRS Endurance Challenge. This promotion also put him on par with the lowest-levelled racers in Kabort - a couple still having their C-Class Licences.
This move also opened up the iRacing Special Events, Creventic Endurance Series, F3 and IndyCar Series (which he showed interest in) - if it was possible to Speedrun iRacing, Tom would probably make good work out of that!
Whilst Tom got his C-Class licence in 5 races, I got mine in um....let's not get into that shall we? (It was 32. 32 Races, and I was D3.0 at the end of the season, so I got promoted at the end of the season with just 943 iRating compared with 1816 when he got promoted to C. Almost 1000 more. Eek.
No matter, we must go on - because it only gets more interesting.
After starting and finishing 2nd, and getting C-Licence, Tom would go on to do another race and score his first 0 Incident race. It would unfortunately be 3rd time unlucky as he'd finish 9th in his 3rd attempt, wrapping up proceedings at Summit Point.
My Fastest Lap At Summit Point (Summit Point Raceway): 1:09.981 (-1.798)
Tom's Fastest Lap At Summit Point (Summit Point Raceway): 1:08.183
(Both taken from Practice Sessions)
This would be my last week before University and therefore my last chance to compare myself against Tom - but enough about me.
6) The Present
This week the Ferrari GT3 Challenge headed to Austria and no sooner had he got off the plane, Tom had already got silverware in his arms...not to jinx him - but I think he's truly unstoppable!
To be able to get a PODIUM in the second split is pretty special - and it won't be long before he's scratching the bottom of the top split.
In the last two weeks, he's been up against his toughest competition and highest SOF'S (Strengths Of Field) - the 20th September race being at 1902 SOF and his most recent race on the 25th September at an SOF of 1929 - a 8th place in this race pushing him over the 2000 iRating Line, him now sitting at a comfortable iRating of 2015.
The beautiful thing about this is that it is live - Tom will be writing his next chapter the next time he steps foot in the car - whichever car that may be!
As much as I am bummed that I am at university studying and not out there practicing and racing with him - I know it's for my own good and if I get a good job out of this and out of missing racing with my mates and the team, then so be it - because iRacing = Money. If I have no source of income...then I can't afford iRacing, and that gives me an even bigger problem.
So If I go to Uni, watch Tom from the side-lines, finish my studies, get an income I can throw at iRacing - then I can afford it off my own back...whilst being smart in my field. Hey Presto!
December is only getting closer from here and so is returning to racing with Tom and the team!
Thanks for reading, I hope you found the slightly different style of article interesting.