Last year, by the month of October, I was taking a look on the iRacing forums for paint requests. I’m a Brazilian graphic designer, living in Rio de Janeiro, and had decided to offer my services for the community – as many of you reading this right now already know. Before, I would only paint for myself or for friends, mainly to create sim-racing teams liveries, but things got different in a quick way after making this decision to offer my services to the iRacers everywhere.
One topic called my attention: It was about a contest and the author was Robert Eberle. I didn’t know him yet, but got interested on his public proposal. He was looking for a new design on his Pro Mazda. It was very simple: He would let everyone interested send him screenshots of what his new car would look like, all of them painted on iRacing, and the choosen one should become a real livery of a Pro Mazda; not only for one race, but for a full season.
Robert “Bobby” Eberle had already done his previous car with an iRacing member, and now he decided to go in a different way, through a contest. I entered because I felt that it would be really nice for me to have a real racing car painted as I had designed. But honestly, it was a “here goes nothing” try. I’d been around as a member for almost three years and I know that we have some really talented guys here, so the chances to make this happen were little. But why not to try, right? The worst thing that could happen was to “lose” a few hours doing something that I enjoy.
One week later, Bobby sent me an e-mail telling me that I was the winner and my design had been chosen. I got really happy about it and after that, things would be getting better and better. In January he sent me the first early pictures of the car in the garage, still having some work on it, but it was real – it was my very first layout for a racing car.
Bobby also told me that he was going to put a sticker of my logo on the car and that I would be treated like a partner for the rest of the year. Since then, every race he attends, he sends me pictures and we have a chat about how the race went. We also had some fun doing hotlaps on iRacing in a hosted session.
But the best was yet to happen. I have never left Brazil, and one of my personal dreams is to go at Indianapolis. A couple of weeks ago, Bobby drove in a race there and the pictures he sent made me realize that I was also there: That car was carrying a bit of me at Indianapolis and that was the peak moment.
After that, I talked with Bobby and we decided to share story with our fellow iRacers. This shows just how important our community is for all of us, not just for the sim-races, but for much more. When else would I have this kind of opportunity?
I also did an interview with Bobby and you can read the Q&A below:
iRN: Bobby, please tell us, how your racing career started and how did you get to do your first season on the Pro Mazda series?
Bobby: I have always wanted to race, but I never knew how to get started. I was a nationally ranked tennis player, and once I stopped competing, I decided to really find out what racing was all about. I got a late start, but I decided to go to the Skip Barber Racing School, and the experience was amazing. I loved it, and soon I signed up for the follow-up training. I did my first race, and I could hardly breathe. I was so nervous. But I started doing better and better… even against people who had years of experience, both in karting and in cars. By the time I was done racing in Skip Barber, I had won a race, won the Master Championship (for drivers over 40 years old) and finished ninth overall in the championship out of 75 drivers. All of those other eight guys are doing pro racing now at some level.
After Skip Barber, I moved up to Formula Car Challenge. This is a great racing series. It allowed me to race in a Pro Mazda race car, but do it in a regional series. The experience was fantastic. I could continue my development and do so on a much smaller budget than the pro series. I finished third in the championship, so I was very happy with the result.
Now, I am in my first full season of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. It’s so amazing to be racing here, considering I started from scratch just three years ago. The competition is crazy, and I’m hoping to learn as much as I can this season.
iRN: And how did you got to know iRacing?
Bobby: I have a simulator for practice, and it came loaded with several simulator programs. iRacing is by far the best. It’s so great for learning a new track, and it helps keep the skills sharp. I love it!
iRN: You joined iRacing back in 2011, but never did an official race. Why?
Bobby: I’m pretty busy in my daily routine, and I like just getting on track by myself and working on things. It’s practice, yes, but it’s also relaxing. I get enough excitement in a real race, so I enjoy a little quieter atmosphere on iRacing.
iRN: Tell us a bit of this 2014 season, how things are going for you.
Bobby: The season is exactly like I thought it would be: tough! My best finish is 12th so far, and we are about halfway through the season. I had some bad luck along the way, but that’s part of the deal. I’ve gotten used to the phrase “that’s racing,” but it’s still frustating to chase someone down and then spin or have contact during the first turn of the race lap of a race. But each time I’m out there, I’m learning, and I can feel things coming together. I can’t wait to get in the car again.
iRN: As we had talked before, your next step is to get at Indy lights. But you need sponsors to get there. How are you working on this?
Bobby: This is a nonstop job. I want to do another season of Pro Mazda to really build my skills. All of this is so new, and I don’t want to move up just for the sake of moving up. So, I have a lot of work to do on the development side. Then, there is the funding. There’s always someone you can be contacting or some idea to work on or some research to be done. If you are sitting around doing nothing, you are wasting time. The sponsor side of things is admittedly very stressful, but it’s part of the job.
iRN: For all the iRacers out there, what’s your best advice for them to get so far like you?
Bobby: Work hard and never, ever quit. In tennis, I had a number of injuries, but I kept at it. In racing, so far, I’ve had some good results, but I’ve also poor results. It’s takes time to develop these skills, so it’s important to work on them as much as possible. Anyone can have a good day on the track, but how do you perform when it’s not your best day? That’s your baseline, and you should always be striving to make your baseline performance as good as possible. Stick with it, and good things will happen.
Thank you, Bob! Good luck for the next races.