Why Glickenhaus is Wrong
Even after proving itself over the last few years, a prominent team owner took a shot at the credibility of simulation racing.
Even as the racing world returns to full seasons, screaming fans, and actual racing, teams all around the world still rely on a fairly new development for training their drivers: simulators. Whilst racing simulators have been around for decades, they have truly come into their own over the last five years. With once small companies like Fanatec, Heusinkveld, and Simucube exploding in popularity and prosperity, the sim racing market is at an all-time high. However, some former drivers and current team bosses are still behind the times. This, unfortunately, includes the team owner of a fan-favorite American WEC team, former film producer, Jim Glickenhaus. On August 3rd, 2021, Jim took to Twitter to take a stab at sim racing's credibility. He stated, “The flag drops at real racecourses where real race cars race each other in real races. Everything else is meaningless bullsh**.” Whilst his stance is somewhat understandable, following the massive shutdown in 2020, the team's response to justified criticism was certainly not. As expected, this caused quite an uproar across both communities. The first person to draw a good amount of attention to Jim's comments was another Jim, Praga driver, and former shed-dweller, Jimmy Broadbent. Jimmy would respond by saying, "Racing is for everyone Jim, whether you like it or not." He was subsequently blocked by Glickenhaus's Twitter page. Many more drivers would voice their displeasure with Glickenhaus's take, including the 2020 World's Fastest Gamer, James Baldwin, and British GT driver Angus Fender. Glickenhaus would continue to block their critics and delete their comments, leaving only the positive comments. So, who is truly right here? Is sim racing really just a bunch of BS?
Jim Glickenhaus is Dead Wrong
A screenshot from Assetto Corsa Competizione. Photo from ACC's official website.
I echo what Jimmy Broadbent said, racing in the modern age is truly for everyone. Just ten years ago, the gateways into motorsports were often guarded by massive roadblocks, in the form of incredibly expensive funding. Without the promise of success, a single family of a young kart racer could spend thousands of dollars (pounds, euros, dogecoin, etc) every year just on travel, maintenance, registration, racing gear, and other necessary things to get into the world of motorsport. If you do indeed find yourself in a more prestigious series during your career, you will be paying quite the ticket just for the opportunity to race in the series. To Glickenhaus and other older members of the community who share the same mindset, this is the way it should be. No matter how talented you are, it should all come down to one thing: money. It safeguards them from dealing with anyone they deem "unfit" in motorsport. With sim racing however you pay $60 for a game or $100 a year for IRacing, and you can drive to your heart's content. Sim racing has opened a new avenue into the racing world, bypassing a lot of the pitfalls that have plagued thousands of careers in the past. Bosses like Jim Glickenhaus despise sim racing for this very reason, they see new, very talented drivers coming up through the sim racing ranks and into proper race cars as a form of contamination. Their once safe space is being intruded upon by drivers who have not "paid their dues" or "proven themselves" as the drivers had to in years prior. Hilariously enough, how do you suppose the Glickenhaus drivers train for race day? Sure, they have testing sessions in the actual car, but that costs a good chunk of money to transport the cars to the circuit, prepare them for on-track activities, and run the risk of damaging the car if something goes awry. So, what do they do instead?
Mclaren F1 driver Lando Norris driving on his very nice, very expensive sim rig. Photo from Autosport.
Oh right, they use a simulator! Hypocritical, old-timey, and disrespectful to valid criticism, it really shows that some people in the racing world are still stuck in the past, and choose not to accept any form of change, even if it is for the betterment of the community. Sim racing allows for average Joes, real drivers, and teams alike to race and train without the financial risk of physical testing or joining a real-life series. Without sim racing, there would be no racing whatsoever in COVID-era 2020. No Indycar, no NASCAR, no Formula One, nothing. Even if it isn't the real deal, it at least held us over for the time being. It was also hilarious seeing a more casual side to drivers that usually take themselves so seriously. Today, anyone can get into racing. Whether that be through sim racing or through the old beaten path of dumping money into something that may or may not work out. Whether old drivers and bosses like it or not, racing will only become easier to get into. I'm excited to see what the future holds for sim racing and, in turn, real racing too! Hopefully, Jim Glickenhaus will wake up and smell the digital roses, but somehow, I doubt that will be the case.
Thank you all for reading! What do you think? Is Glickenhaus just an angry old man, or does he have a point? Let me know down in the comments below! As always, thank you all for reading, bumping, and following, and I will see you down the road!