Paul Darling is a top-5 contender, a fairly humble guy, and comes from the very important world of SCCA F&C (Flagging and Communications); he also neglects to mention he just won the inaugural SCCA Online Championship earlier this year (read more about that at Racer.com).
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Paul Darling and I’m from Michigan.
What line of work are you in?
I am working as an engineer for an automotive company.
How old are you?
What was your motivation for participating in the Spec MX-5 SimRacing Challenge?
The prize is always enticing, but my main reason was for close competition. I was curious to see how I would stack up against some of the best who I saw on the entry list.
Do you have any previous non-virtual motorsports history?
Without a track capable car, I started volunteering as a flagger in 2013. It’s a great way to get involved at the track and sometimes the best seat in the house!
I’ve had the good fortune of having generous friends who allow me to co-drive, so I probably have around 2.5 cumulative seasons of autocross over the last 5 years or so.
Do you feel virtual motorsports is becoming a valid starting point for participation in actual motorsports?
Absolutely. I think virtual motorsports games can get someone started in learning how to drive at the limit and race other cars on track. I’ve only done one track day at Summit, but I definitely felt that iRacing gave me a leg up in getting up to speed since I already knew the track.
I think we have all seen racing esports on the rise in terms of relevance to real world racing. Many real racing teams now have an esports presence, and the most interesting aspect to me, is seeing current F1 drivers stream on Twitch.
Are you a ‘gamer’ or do you mostly only sim-race?
If I’m not playing iRacing then I’m usually playing Rocket League. I used to be a ‘gamer’ on console, but once I started iRacing most of the other games kind of fell away.
Do you consider sim-racing a game?
I consider it a simulator and training tool, but it can still be called a game. I don’t usually get caught up in the distinction.
How long have you been sim-racing?
I started on iRacing in 2012 with several years of a break for college.
Are you very active in sim-racing?
It is definitely at the level of a time-intensive hobby.
Do you run in many leagues?
Usually yes, although I’ve backed off recently to just do Spec MX-5 and Champion Motorsports.
What’s your favorite car or series to compete in?
I like any endurance series and prefer to drive GTE.
How much time would you say you put into sim-racing?
Probably around 10 hours a week if prepping for a competitive league race or endurance series weekend.
How do you rate your chances of winning the driver development test at the end of the season?
Barring a disaster for the leaders, next to nil. I am usually slightly off the pace required for a podium, so my chances are not high.
Anything else of interest you’d like to share?
I don’t think I’ve got anything interesting.