Sim Racing community raises money for charity during iRacing’s 24 Hours of Daytona

Photo by Ian Plasch / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Several groups of sim racers came together to raise money for charity during the iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona.

Two teams, Outrun Motorsports and C. Commanders, opted to make good use of the 24-hours and raised money for charity. The sim racing community raised over $6,000 combined for charity.

Outrun Motorsports’ Ian Plasch and Keenan Kusan raised money for Extra Life, an organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Plasch and Kusan are just two gamers of over 50,000 that take part with the organization throughout the year, the biggest contributing group donating is RoosterTeeth in Austin, TX.

Extra Life, which was founded in 2008, has a platform that is friendly with gamers and streamers. Last year, the organization raised an estimated $14 million for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. 

What made Plasch and Kusan’s stories unique is that they ran all 24-hours solo. Both in their own respective virtual Daytona Prototypes, the duo were in the seventh split of thirty separate 24-hour races at the virtual Daytona International Speedway.

Plasch described running 24-Hours solo as a very painful experience:

“So, just all in all, it was a very, very painful experience. Immediately after the race, I ended up sleeping about 15 total hours just to kind of recover in general. I was almost awake for 40 hours in total by the end of the thing due to some sleep issues beforehand.”

In total, it took Plasch 48 hours to recover from his feat. However, the fundraiser was well worth the pain. Two years ago, Plasch lost a family friend who had received treatment at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

For Plasch, running a 24-Hour race solo to raise money for Extra Life was nothing new. It was his sixth-straight year of competing solo and fifth benefiting charity. The sim-racer set a new world record on iRacing, completing 823 laps. 

“It was back in late 2014 when iRacing announced that they were going to go forward with making these team events,” Plasch reminisced. “It was just some random spur of the moment idea I had in the back of my mind when they announced the 24 Hours of Daytona as the first big team event on iRacing.” 

“I said, ‘gosh, what’s going to happen if somebody decided they wanted to run the whole entire thing solo, is it even possible?’ Let’s go for it.’ And it went well. It was one of the most successful events that I ever had done on my Twitch channel in the past. I’ve seen like crazy viewers just cheering me on seeing it done. 

“I kind of took that energy into 2015, 16 and onward where I said, well, we got so many eyes on this thing, let’s do a good thing with it. Let’s do it for a cause. At that time when I decided to partner up with Extra Life and every single year since 15, 16, 17 onward and all for charity and it’s just been some of the most incredible races of my sim racing career. No doubt.” 

Meanwhile, this was just the second 24-Hour solo event at Daytona for Kusan, who lives just down the road from a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital CHEO. He estimated that between himself and Plasch that they had 50 to 70 people watching their Twitch stream.

Unfortunately for Kusan, he was plagued by technical issues. With an explosion in popularity, iRacing had double the car count in the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona compared to 2019.

“I was running the DP and then I had some disconnection issues,” Kusan explained. “So, I would be in the pits, going to the bathroom, I’d come back and my game was crashed. I was like, ‘that’s cool, awesome. Needed that.’ I also wrecked three times that were all my fault. One time I was trying to avoid hitting somebody in the GTE class and I mean these guys are spending a lot more time prepping than I did.” 

Recognizing that he would ultimately be disqualified at the end of the race, Kusan did his best to not impede his competition. In several moments, he damaged or spun his own car to avoid ruining the race for others. 

“They have a lot more to lose cause I’m going to get DQ’d at the end of the race regardless of what I do,” Kusan admitted. “So, I just throttle up and like hit the wall doing 120. And another time I tried to let a guy by, but you’re so tired, your brain’s not working properly. I let a guy by and then I cut back into the racing line too quickly and just spun ’em around. 

“His team messaged me, he’s like, was that on purpose? I was like, no, I’m just an idiot. I’m sorry. But aside from the first six hours, the rest of the race went relatively smoothly. I didn’t really have a goal in terms of on-track, which makes the last 12 hours really long.”

When all was said and done, Kusan completed 777 laps. Before the race, he only expected to complete 720 laps.

Plasch summed up the support that Kusan, himself, and others have had, raising money for charity as incredibly heartwarming:

“I could have never imagined we would come to a point where within this niche community that has been growing immensely, the hearts would continue to do so as well. It’s very touching and you know, I don’t want to think of it any other way other than just there’s good people in the world. 

“They’ll find their way to leave a mark and every single person who has done something between like Rence the Fence (Rence Brown) this year, a David Schildhouse and Keenan even like joining me as well as. It’s so incredible to see so many people doing so many amazing things. 

“When you say, it’s very heartwarming, you’re not kidding. It’s just, it’s very touching. And to see it explode like it did this year makes me really look forward to 21, 22, and forward because I think it could be a movement and a momentum in the sim racing community to give that we really haven’t seen before.”

Combined, Plasch and Kusan raised an estimated $4,500 for Extra Life. Both sim racers were in disbelief when they totaled their combined donations. Plasch has raised an estimated $7,500 total in the five years he’s raised money for extra life.

Due to iRacing’s coding and rules, both Plasch and Kusan were excluded due to failing to drive time. It’s a result that both sim racers expected and embraced for charity.

Another team of five drivers, the C. Commanders, raised money for WWF Australia. The C. Commanders were made up of David Schildhouse, Michael Cosey, Jr., Spencer Prete, Ashton Schleiss, and Travis Brown. 

Schildhouse streamed the race on Twitch. The idea to make this stream and their race benefit WWF Australia came less than a week before the event. Schildhouse and his team wanted to help the continent that has been ravaged by historic bushfires.

Schildhouse explained why he and his team dedicated their race to the benefit of WWF Australia:

“Australia is a place I’ve always been fascinated by and somewhere I hope to visit, perhaps even later this year. The platypus has been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember and knowing that over one billion animals have been killed by the bushfires was absolutely heartbreaking. Everyone on the team are animal lovers and all felt strongly about supporting this cause.”

The team started with a modest goal of $1,000. Just past the 12-hour mark, they reached their goal. As a result, the C. Commanders increased their goal to $1,500. They accomplished that in the closing minutes of the virtual 24-hour endurance race. 

The 2020 iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona marked the first time that sim racing veteran Schildhouse used his platform to benefit charity.

Schildhouse explained that after learning from this experience, he plans to continue his fundraising efforts.

“This was the first time I had ever hosted or participated in a fundraising stream. I learned a lot about doing one and will definitely be doing it again! I’ve been involved with online sim racing since 2003, all the way back in the NASCAR Racing 2003 days. 

“The sim racing community has grown immensely since then and the reach that we have now is almost impossible to believe. To know that others are doing charity work for the causes that they believe in is a mighty testament to the power of the sim racing community in modern times. More importantly, it leads me to believe that as time moves forward, we will be able to accomplish greater feats and have a larger positive impact on the world at large.”

Schildhouse’s team appeared to be in control of their split in the early stages. In the overnight hours, he made a mistake, crashing into another car. The incident sent the C. Commanders’ car airborne and left them with over 13 minutes of damage. With their lead gone, they rebounded.

The C. Commanders ultimately finished fifth in their race. The completed 839 laps in a virtual Chevrolet Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype.

“The finishing result was absolutely impressive, especially considering the immense amount of damage the car sustained from my crash,” Schildhouse explained. “The word ‘satisfied’ would be an understatement to describe my feelings on raising $1,500 for the WWF-Australia charity! I’m not sure there’s a singular word that I can use because the show of support from everyone who donated and hung out during the stream elicits a wide range of emotions from me.  

“I would say that I am humbled, overwhelmed and proud – humbled by the wave of support shown to me and my efforts to help this charity, overwhelmed by the generosity and goodwill shown by those who donated throughout the event and proud of the community as a whole for showing up, supporting the cause and proving that sim racing has the power to do good in the world.”

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Sim Racing community raises money for charity during iRacing’s 24 Hours of Daytona – Kickin’ the Tires | Philanthropy Media Network

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *