By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
Rarely does a racecar driver from a small town get the opportunity to make a splash on a national stage, but for Presley Sorah, iRacing and the ‘sim to reality’ opportunities it creates opened up that very possibility.
The Cambridge City, IN native had his eyes set on being a NASCAR driver from an early age. He always dreamed of competing in the sport that he loved. However, Sorah’s small town background didn’t ensure that competing at a local track, let alone a national stage, was a possibility.
That was before Sorah started competing on iRacing. Though he had raced go-karts the motorsports simulation platform allowed him to showcase his abilities. The sim was the most cost effective avenue for the up-and-coming driver and his family.
“I did (see myself some behind the wheel before iRacing), but it was more of a dream than something that was actually feasible,” Sorah admitted. “I don’t come from a bunch of money and I’m a first-generation racer, it’s not something that I was just born into. With my talent and iRacing, I’ve been able to show my skills, and that’s really what’s been the difference maker in putting that dream into reality because prior to that I raced go-karts for a couple of years, but ultimately just didn’t have any money to move anywhere else. iRacing was the cheapest alternative and my success from that gave me opportunities in the real world.”
Through several series and leagues on iRacing, Sorah began turning heads, grabbing attention from various stars and media. The 20-year-old first started in the eNASCAR Ignite Series, along with other sim to reality stars including Rajah Caruth and Donovan Strauss. His real success on iRacing came in the various leagues.
In 2022 Sorah won the Monday Night Racing (MNR) Road to Glory Championship. He then translated that into MNR’s Season 5 title. Competing in MNR, the Elite Racing League, and elsewhere, Sorah has been on the virtual track alongside Anthony Alfredo, Kyle Busch, Caruth, Brad Perez, Shane van Gisbergen, and Ryan Vargas.
“I’ve met so many people on iRacing, especially in Monday Night Racing, Elite Racing League, (and in other leagues),” Sorah stated. “So many of those people that are industry members that are just so popular, they’ve provided so much help for me, Vargas, especially he gives me so much advice and he’s helped me at times. Just competing with all of them has helped me a bunch because it’s not every day that you can compete with Busch, van Gisbergen or Vargas or any of those big names that race on iRacing. iRacing makes it possible.”
Each of the real-life NASCAR drivers have, in a way, served as a mentor to Sorah. The sim to reality racer has leaned on several drivers for advice, both online and on the real-life track, as well as away from the track. Sorah’s kept a close eye on the social media presence that his competitors have. In turn, he’s taken lessons from the NASCAR stars and applied them to his own social media usage.
That social media presence, combined with a similar path as Caruth and Strauss has earned Sorah a dedicated following. That fan base got to experience the culmination of Sorah’s sim to reality journey to date, the 2024 ARCA Menards Series test session at Daytona Int’l Speedway, through social media.
“I feel guys like Strauss and I came up through pretty similar paths,” Sorah said. “Obviously he made it to the Coca-Cola Series and then my success was mainly from MNR, but we both got going on the eNASCAR Ignite Series back in 2018, 2019. We’ve raced each other a bunch over the years, just coming up through the same ranks. I feel like I leaned more on guys like Caruth, Vargas, Perez, and Alfredo on them.
“I follow their social media really closely on how they carry themselves on there and the posts they make to help promote themselves. I try to do my best to improve my own social media. I’ve gotten really pretty good at it over the last year or so, making posts daily and trying to make interesting content. I’ve really upped it the last couple weeks with the Daytona stuff, I’ve been pushing Tiktoks out, tweets, and I’ve been trying different methods that they do to try to gain some interaction and spread my name out there more.”
The test session itself was primarily issue free on-track for Sorah. An engine issue in the No. 06 Wayne Peterson Ford forced him to move into the team’s Toyota. That move also meant a shift from the superspeedway car to the short track car. With the team using older SB2 motors, and others using newer Ilmor engines, the speeds were modest.
Sorah was 49th in the pre-practice speed charts during ARCA’s Friday session. Thanks to his experience on iRacing, which includes a win in the 2021 NASCAR iRacing Series Daytona 500, he found himself at home. Sorah was comfortable throughout his time testing at ‘The World Center of Racing.’
“The on-track stuff, it went smooth as it could, no issues whatsoever,” Sorah recalled. “Originally, I was supposed to be in the black Ford, but it had a motor issue in the pits before we were able to get it on track and the black Ford’s the superspeedway car. But I made the transition no problem over to the Toyota which is primarily a short track car. The car drove great. Honestly, it drove pretty much exactly how I expected it to just based on my iRacing experience. Visually when you’re driving down pit road in real life, what you’re seeing out your windshield is the same as you’re seeing out your windshield on iRacing.”
In the end, Sorah’s journey is one that every NASCAR or motorsports fan dreams of as a kid, to be able to compete at a national level or at the top level. From his small town to the national stage, that journey has been one that is still surreal to the young driver.
“It is surreal, but at the same time, you can ask anybody from my earliest days, I’ve told everyone that I’m going to be a NASCAR driver,” Sorah recalled. “I’ve never backed down on that, and even like through school, in elementary school, people would ask, what do you want to do when you’re older? And I would say NASCAR driver, and they’d look at me and clap and say that’s awesome. Then you get up in middle school and high school and you’ve started being an adult and when you keep giving that same answer people give a different reaction.
“I live in a town of 1,700 people in Cambridge City and it’s tough for someone in our area to make it up into a national sport like that. At Daytona, it felt surreal. I’ve always had confidence in myself that I was going to do it, so it was just a matter of when, not if, for me.”
As to where Sorah’s sim to reality journey could take him next, the potential for ARCA Menards Series East starts, dirt or asphalt Late Model starts, or other competition is there. What is certain, is that his dream to become a NASCAR driver is certainly not over.