Jimmy Broadbent Just Raced In Britcar; Here's His Journey
From sim-racing shed-dweller to actual racer, Jimmer's road to the first round of Britcar is long, hard-fought, and yet still fun
It's become apparent since 2018 that Jimmy Broadbent has become somewhat of a hero among sim-racers the world over. Grinding his teeth in iRacing, rFactor 2, BeamNG Drive and Assetto Corsa a couple of years prior, Broadbent made a name for himself thanks to his quirky, breathlessly commentated runs at the Nordschleife and other videos showcasing the virtues, power and potential of sim-racing as entertainment and sport, becoming its biggest ambassador and exponent to date.
With lockdowns halting real racing, Jimmer's fame rocketed with even more power as drivers to simulators, and what was once considered a one-off encounter with Lando Norris and Max Verstappen in 2019 has become almost routine in 2020, with invites across organizers and servers that prove his worth as a driver against the best in the world.
Thanks to the surge in subscribers, his visibility grew, which has allowed Jimmer to make some headway into his own dreams of racing for real. Kart races, rally lessons, and even modifying his old NA Mazda Miata into a decked-out racer for training. With both an R32 and R35 in his stable and a new home, Jimmer's reached a new level, one that is decidedly above shed-level. Now, he's become a full-fledged racing driver.
Last weekend, Jimmer, with partner Jem Hepworth, participated in last week's Britcar Endurance Series, the first round of which took place in Silverstone's International layout (the replay of which is shown above, but the entire day is a total banger for all eight hours so you'll never get bored). It's been a dream come to life for Jimmer, who, up until this point, has only ever driven the Praga R1 in games.
The road to reaching the paddock of an actual event, however, took its sweet time.
Back in 5 February, Jimmer announced that he'll be taking part in Britcar, driving a lightweight Praga R1T. He'd been invited to try out some really serious hardware and had undergone license test drives and actual races prior, but this was going to be the first time he'd be driving side-by-side with professional personnel and machinery in real life.
This was huge and still is today, largely because even with Jimmer's karting and track-day experience, a Praga R1 is levels above the Mazda Miata (look how far that car has come) that Jimmer uses for circuit running. The R1T is, effectively, a prototype, so much of Jimmer's practice has been focused on getting his body to sustain long stints of high-downforce, heavy-braking-force driving, with other races to help bolster up his hours on track and rectify any problems with pacing and overtaking.
Over a series of videos interspersed with his usual fare of sim-racing, Jimmer took us along with arms on our shoulders as he recorded the experience of transitioning to actual racing. From meeting Britcar champion Jem Hepworth to trying to fathom the sheer capability of the Praga, it's been both entertaining and endearing to see someone who isn't a from-birth pro be fast-tracked to drive a prototype. On one hand, it's utterly battering him to handle the R1. But on the other hand, it's easy to trace the efficacy of his sim-racing experience and how well the skills transfer to real life, and, eventually, he was able to keep up with Hepworth to at least not get carried in a rucksack.
This finally leads us to two weekends ago, on an eventful Britcar which saw Jimmer do a surprising bulk of driving on Race 1, en route to a respectable P6 overall finish. That's honestly astounding, but given how seriously Jimmer took this event, I'm not too surprised. As usual, Jem's a hero on both heats, shoring up times and fighting hard to stay in step with the other Pragas on track (Abbie Eaton also raced here), but safety cars did eat into valuable running. Still, Goldie persevered, and by the end of it, Jimmer's completed the giant lead from shed to paddock.
And that's not the end of the journey for Jimmer -- he's in for the next round of Britcar in Snetterton, meaning that he's here for the long haul. There's still much room for improvement, of course. Jimmer's still a little gunshy with overtakes and pushing the limits, and he still has to ensure that his body can sustain the pace needed at this level of competition. But for a first effort in a truly advanced piece of kit, he's done quite well, the lad.
You did us proud, Jimmer. You truly have.