Simulators have become an integral part of racing today. In the top levels, including Formula One and IndyCar, because of limited tests and seat time in the actual car, drivers have honed their skills and muscle memory on sophisticated digital replications of car physics and tracks. But can this too work in reverse? Can a well-played “gamer” who has proven to be one of the world’s best simulator drivers get in the car and adapt to the real world? For Glenn McGee, now entering his second year in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, simulator to real racecar has been a “Cinderella Story.”
McGee, a top gamer and sim driver from Tampa, Florida, won a $100,000 scholarship, and the first step on the development ladder, to drive in the professional series through a major competition, The Mazda Road to 24 Shootout, sponsored by Mazda on the global online sim-racing platform, iRacing. He impressed many with his crossover from the virtual to reality in the finals at Carolina Motorsports Park in late-2015. McGee posted some of the fastest times on track and was evaluated for business and marketing skills. The panel of judges chose McGee for the top prize over three other finalists.