Grid Finder chats all things Esports at the ADAC Sim Racing Expo
In December 2022, Grid Finder connected with the sim racing world at the 2022 ADAC Sim Racing Expo in Nuremberg, Germany. For the Sim Sundays podcast, Tom and Chris spoke to different names at the Expo about all things Esports throughout the weekend.
Seb Hawkins, Team Manager of Williams Esports and driver Louis Nahser caught up with Tom and Chris at the beginning of the weekend.
After meeting his fellow teammates a few times throughout the year, either at the factory or at other racing events, like 24 hours of Spa, Louis was pleased to be with his team again.
“It’s always good to see them,” he says. “You know them from the voices online so it’s always lovely to see them in person.”
With events across the Expo weekend, Seb, Louis and other members of the Williams Esports team were able to meet with partners and drivers face-to-face, something we lost sight of during COVID.
“It’s super important for us and for our drivers to be there,” Seb says. “It’s nice for our partners to meet the drivers who use their products and get that feedback, too.”
With everyone at the event sharing the same passion – sim racing and Esports – there are familiar faces all round.
“We might meet people who we have previously had on the team or were previously interested in, which is a crucial part of why these events are so important,” Seb says. “We can put a face to the name on Discord.
“Everybody can come over and see everybody racing which is also quite a cool aspect.”
D-Box were another name in attendance at the Expo and Tom and Chris caught Stephane Vidal, D-Box’s Vice President of Product and Brand, and Sebastian Mailhot, President and CEO, for a chat.
Based in Quebec, Canada, this year’s Expo was D-Box’s seventh visit to the event, and news of a new multi-purpose platform broke at the Expo. The company wanted to create a product that could be used at home for different types of activities and entertainment.
“You can use it under a rig but also underneath the sofa, so you can use it to watch a movie and then use it for sim racing,” Stephane says. “It allows you to race with the new adaptive gaming mode and the new adaptive audio.
“That means you can play any type of game without the game having been encoded; it’s a great improvement.”
D-Box have been in sim racing for more than 10 years, and they’ve been able to grow their new technologies and their number of rigs at the Expo in recent years.
“Racing is all about the experience, right?” Sebastian says. “When you talk about racing, F1 people want to see it and want to live it, so that’s what we think.
“People here have to see it, even if you’re not doing the racing. It’s a lifestyle; racing is a good lifestyle.”
Nevil Slade, Founder and CEO of Vesaro, caught up with Grid Finder in Nuremberg.
Vesaro’s last visit to the Expo was in 2019, and during their time away from the event, they have been working on expanding and growing their company. During that same period, Vesaro have partnered with the brand new F1 Arcade. Formula 1’s goal with this new project? To bring sim racing to the masses in a way that would work for the masses, according to Slade.
“We were all on board with it because as a company, we’ve always tried to be accommodating to a wide range of users,” he says. “That’s not what we’re about.
“We’d been developing a simulator and we adapted that, and made it work for what was needed.”
Vesaro have worked on the simulator rigs for F1 Arcade to make them safe to use with integrated cables, it’s fully UKCA certified as a complete product and they have worked with F1 on various features too, like integrating the rear lights and ensuring the product is suitable for the specific venue.
“We’re pretty proud of that.”
Matt Sten, CEO of Trak Racer, made his return to the Sim Sundays podcast at the Expo.
Trak Racer’s new product, the TRX, made its debut at the Expo ahead of its release, with over 1,200 pre-orders among customers. Trak Racer are also making a huge step forward in introducing electronics, having previously been all about the rigs.
“Unlike a lot of companies, we’ve actually developed our own software so it’ll work with our own software,” Matt says. “But we’re not locking people into our ecosystem.
“You can dial in the pedals perfectly, you can configure the wheel but some people prefer Sim Hub.”
Trak Racer have been developing different products over the past few years.
“I like to keep busy, so the TRX kept me busy for a while,” Matt says. “Two years ago, I started working on our own amplifier, we’ve got our own bass shaker and we’ve been running that for the duration of the event.”
Fanatec CEO and Founder, Thomas Jackermeier, stopped by for a chat with Grid Finder about how special it is to be at events like the ADAC Sim Racing Expo.
“You’re in contact with the fans, you get so much appreciation and so much good feedback,” Thomas says. “You also get some new ideas.
“It’s fantastic because you know why you have all the stress and pain to go through to develop these things. It makes it worth it.”
Thomas founded Fanatec in 1997 and has had many successes since then, one being Sebastian Loeb winning the 2022 Monte Carlo rally with a wheel provided by Fanatec.
“When I started this company, if somebody would have told me that someone will win the rally Monte Carlo with our steering wheel…” he says. “I had no idea how far that goes.”
Fanatec is rooted in gaming but now, the company is moving more towards being a motorsport company.
“Our mission is clearly to bring both worlds together.”
David Sampson – better known in the sim racing world as Sampsoid – has been racing in the sim world for many years.
One of the most important aspects of any event is meeting people who you share your passions and interests with. At this year’s Expo, that was one of the big things for Sampsoid.
“Everyone from our community are just here for sim racing and seeing sim racing stuff,” he says. “But just to hang out with them and see them in real life… I think more of my original fan base is still here in Europe.”
For Sampsoid, events like the Expo are all about the people.
CEO and Founder of Asetek, André Eriksen, caught up with Grid Finder about how things have changed for the company in the past year.
From showing off their products in the Phoenix Racing race shop – their first entry into the market – to having their own section now for their full range of sim racing products.
“We are a long-term company and we’ve been around for a long time,” André says. “But for simulator stuff, we have only been here for a year.”
André has been racing his entire life, starting when he was young and moving through from Motocross, to go-karts, to cars, and now, his son is racing, too.
“That’s part of what we do,” he says. “We have used simulators as training tools but I’ve never participated in one single sim race in my life.
“I asked, ‘what is a simulator actually?’; it’s software, it’s hardware and it’s mechanics, which is exactly what we do in our core business.”
Since moving into the simulator world, Asetek have built an Esports academy to provide that support for competitive and casual sim racers alike.
Tobin Leigh, from Veloce and Quadrant, was the final person to chat with Grid Finder at the Expo.
Being able to be away from Discord and see and speak to the people you meet online through sim racing is one of the highlights of the Expo weekend for many people, Tobin included.
“There’s so many more people wearing Esports jerseys nowadays and it’s so good to see,” he says. “Speaking with the other teams and putting names to faces is good.”
The drivers from different sim racing teams all know each other already, which is a huge part of Esports, having met at a variety of events throughout the year.
“That’s down to the fact that sim racing has become more like that,” Tobin says. “We’ve had our drivers at our HQ in London to practise at our facility there, but we’re bringing those guys back together and they’re seeing each other again.”
Sim racing has been around for a while, but the competition and the technology hasn’t always been the same.
“10 years ago, it was nothing,” Tobin says. “I can only imagine where it will be in another 10 years time.”