By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Much like how NASCAR and iRacing teamed during the COVID-19 shutdown to create the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series, The Sim Racer puts a sim racing spin on feature films.
In the trailer for the film, a sim racer named Luke Wallace, portrayed by Roman Boylen, is $20,000 in debt. With the bank threatening to seize his home, Wallace enters a high-paying sim race.
The trailer for The Sim Racer, released by Chrome Horn Media, showcases both in-person shots and scenes on iRacing. A few hints from the trailer reveal that the laser scanned Super Late Model and 1987 NASCAR stock cars are used in the film, along with the virtual USA International Speedway.
“Owing the bank money has been done a few times but sometimes things are done over and over because they just work,” admitted The Sim Racer director Brock Drury. “I think you just have to put your own spin on it. That’s what I’m doing with The Sim Racer. I think The Sim Racer will stand out because it has heart. A random studio didn’t make this that is just trying to make fun of sim racing. The Sim Racer had a passionate crew and actors who put their hearts into making a great movie that will be entertaining and help sim racing. I think that will show in the final product.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew were kept small. Although 99% of the film takes place in-person, the unique ability to include sim racing is evident of the ever-evolving landscape of the film, eSports, and NASCAR industries.
While the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series features some of the best sim racing has, and the Pro Invitational supplemented the Cup Series, The Sim Racer aimed to keep sim racing in a positive, legitimate light. The use of iRacing and sim racing in the film is more of a tool, a red herring. The goal of the main character, Wallace, is simply to win a race, it just happens to take place on iRacing.
“I have a career in media and one of my goals for a while has been to make a feature film so since I am into sim racing, I figured why not make a movie about sim racing,” explained Drury. “From there I started working on the script. I had to figure out how to write a script that features sim racing and at the same time has a good storyline. I made sure along the way not to make a joke of the sport because I know how legitimate sim racing is and think this movie can help it grow.”
The director of the film, Drury, has experience with sim racing. He was active in the racing branch of eSports in the late 2000s. Back then, there were few, if any, high-paying races. Fast forward a decade, and organizations like iRacing itself, eRacr, Podium eSports, and others regularly host events or entire series that have purses that are well over $1,000.
Prior to the start of filming, Drury reached out to iRacing. While the races are often streamed, sometimes by the sim racers themselves, or by broadcasters, he needed permission to use the iRacing replays and footage in the film. Compilations on YouTube, Twitch, and elsewhere of iRacing clips are drastically different from using the footage in a feature film.
“I talked to iRacing before I even started writing the script because I knew I needed their permission to do this,” reflected Drury. “They thought the idea was cool and gave me the go ahead. I didn’t really talk to many sim racers about the movie until after the trailer was released. The reception within the community has been great. I couldn’t have asked for any better.
“It was a lot easier since I’ve already done some things with the replay editor in the past. I think the hardest thing has been painting the cars, had to paint over 50 cars for the race scenes. I had to make sure the right cars were in the right races because you need to avoid continuity issues. It’s worth putting in the time to do it right though.”
Feature films that have featured NASCAR are few and far between. The most recent was Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. By far the most popular NASCAR related movie in recent decades was the 1990 film Days of Thunder. Drury’s film is in no way a copy of the popular Tom Cruise film. However, it took a lot of inspiration from the movie. It also includes several homages to the Tony Scott-directed film.
“Days of Thunder was an inspiration,” stated Drury. “The Sim Racer isn’t a carbon copy of Days of Thunder but there are some homages in there. From the beginning I told the crew I was going for Days of Thunder vibes. When I released the trailer, I saw those exact comments. It’s cool that I got across what I was going for. I did check out other racing movies to see if I could get any inspiration or ideas. But, I didn’t really get much from the other movies.”
The Sim Racer is set to be released this year.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of The Sim Racer.