How Sim Racing Is Promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Motorsport
Simulated racing or race simulation - better known as sim racing - is becoming increasingly popular in the motorsport. Due to its accessibility, the platform has the potential to open the world of motorsport to a much larger audience, which helps to increase diversity and inclusion within the sport.
Why Is It More Accessible?
Although getting started in sim racing still requires a financial investment, it is a low-cost entry door compared to real-life motorsport. This accessibility helps level the playing field and allows more people to participate regardless of their social and economic background. Underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities and women and non-binary people can get a unique opportunity to learn about the sport, develop their skills, and gain experience in a safe and accessible environment.
Sim Racing vs. Real-Life Motorsport
While some consider it a form of gaming, virtual racing can create a pipeline to IRL (in real life) opportunities. The racing show Screen to Speed - Powered by Pennzoil exemplifies that. Designed to bring women into motorsports from sim racing, the competition allowed women worldwide to attempt to set their fastest lap for two months. Then, the fastest women were brought to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to compete simultaneously against each other, with the winner Saoirse Fitzpatrick earning $15,000 and a test in a Kelly Moss Racing Porsche.
Connecting People While Reducing Carbon Emissions
Another positive characteristic of sim racing is that it allows more people worldwide to participate in motorsports without traveling. As we have seen from the data available from the motorsport industry, staff and fan travel and the freight of cars and equipment are responsible for the most significant part of carbon emissions in the sport. In Formula One, for instance, logistics, operations and staff travel are responsible for 80% of the sport's carbon footprint. Hosting events virtually can significantly reduce emissions from sim racing events, even though competitors are connected to their electronic devices.
SIM 4 STEM
New initiatives that use sim race as a tool to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in motorsport are popping up. Stefy Bau - a former pro motocross and supercross racer and Founder & CEO of Init Esports - is a leader in the sector. Together with Victoria Thomas, she created the Screen to Speed. And now Stefy is teaming up with Nicci Daly - an Irish olympic athlete and Co-Founder of Formula Female - to give young women access to STEM education and motorsports through sim racing.
Image: Sim 4 STEM
Two hundred high school girls from diverse backgrounds were invited to participate in the Sim 4 STEM in early May in the city of Indianapolis. The program will happen on four different dates and offer dedicated STEM activities inspired by motorsports, one challenge on a racing simulator, and one on-track activity for the most dedicated students.
Events like Sim 4 STEM and Screen to Speed not only open up opportunities for groups from underrepresented backgrounds but also show that more people can succeed in motorsport with access to the right resources.