RACIN' WITH TIM---March, 1998
"WOMEN SIM RACERS:
COMPETITIVE PIONEERS IN SIM RACING"
By Tim L. Kellebrew
OREGON TRAIL RACING
Welcome to March 1998's "Racin'With Tim" a monthly column on NASCAR sim racing. This month's column continues to be sponsored by Thomas Super Wheel and the folks here at Simulator Cyberworld. This month's cosponsor is Teleport Internet Services--the largest ISP in the Northwest with new local access in Seattle. Teleport is proud to be a real sponsor of a sim racing team--my own #56 car from the Oregon Trail Racing stables. You can find out about them at: www.teleport.com .
This month's column is pretty unique--as it's on a topic that has probably never been written about before. This is not to minimize its importance--as sim racing--like the internet--is open to everyone no matter what their age, their nationality, or their gender. Sim racing is a growing phenomenon just like NASCAR racing is a growing sport. Many race fans and the racers themselves are enjoying the Papyrus simulations that simulate NASCAR racing. It is natural that these fans of the simulations would want to race each other.
Such fans as these--the sim racers--will be found on any given night, any given week, and at any time seated at their home computers making some laps and competing against each other in
various offline leagues and now, online races at the NASCAR Racing Online Series (NROS) over at TEN. One thing is clear, whether or not you view sim racing as sport--it is great fun to compete with
fellow race fans from all over the world. You can prepare just like a real racer, practice and test at the track where the next scheduled event will be run--and then come raceday- -you are psyched!
It is natural in any sport or competitive endeavor that people from every walk of life would compete, however there does appear to be some gender differences in terms of prowess, stamina, and
perhaps interests in some sports. While I would want to avoid sexism at any cost--I also do not want to throw out any evidence of genuine gender differences where they are valid. In motorsports, it is equipment AND talent that are the equalizers--not gender--according to women racers. NASCAR has seen the likes of Janet Guthrie, Tammy Jo Kirk, and Patty Moise--while drag racing has seen Shirley Muldowney and others. There have been successful women racers in many other forms of motorsports.
Well what about sim racing? Is sim racing heavily inundated with geeky guys and college students that like racing cars? Is it because of the subject matter--primarily male or not? Whether or
not it is predominantly male--( and currently it is predominantly male only in terms of numbers)--I still think it samples racing fans. Since there are women race fans it is only natural that sooner or later women sim racers will become more visible in our sport.
So who are these brave women that are the first of their gender to venture to compete in the world of sim racing? What is unique about them? What makes them tick? What do they think about NASCAR sim racing? These are all questions that I began to think about as I thought about this column. What I discovered is that, like racing fans, and like male sim racers--they come from all walks of life. One thing is clear--they like it and would like to encourage women everywhere to join sim racing's ranks and compete.
In my attempt to contact women sim racers I found out that there is a small sample to work with. This made my pursuit of respondents both difficult and interesting. In my two and a half seasons of competition I have run across only about a dozen women sim racers and hundreds and hundreds of male sim racers. Because of this small sample of women sim racers--I was only able to successfully contact a small group of active drivers--as some women sim racers (like their male counterparts) no longer compete. Anyway, here is what they had to say.
THE RESPONDENTS(listed in alphabetical order):
ROXIE BOYD-CAVITT (RBC):
This sim racer ia a married 45 year old mother of three daughters. She resides in Turlock, CA not far from where Ernie Irvin is from and states she remembers Ernie racing at the 99 Speedway in Stockton ,CA. Roxie is currently an active sim racer in the Winsten Cup Division of the NASS offline league. She
also sim races GP-2 in the LFRS. She drives the #98 Pepsi Pontiac. In the past, she has also competed in the NSRA, and ISCCS. Roxie's husband Gary also competes. Their team affiliation is: Zero Racing
JENNIFER KAPLAN (JK):
This sim racer is currently active in IGN's IRCA league and has competed previously in the IGN trucks division. She is a college student majoring in the biological sciences. She drives the #42 Cartoon Network Monte Carlo. Her team affiliation is: Whump International aka Team Whump--where she has been nicknamed "Rabbit Whump".
DEBORAH STUNDEN (DS):
This sim racer is a married 34 year old mother of one daughter. She is active in the NWST offline sim racing league where she competes along with her husband Calvin. She hails from Canada.
Her team affiliation is: nWo Motorsports--where she has been proclaimed "The First Lady of Sim Racing".
TK: "Welcome ladies--to our discussion about women in sim racing. Do you have any intoductory comments?"
RBC: "Thank you Tim. Too often women in Racing are sadly missing. I admire women like Janet Guthrie, Tammy Jo Kirk, Patty Moise who have the wherewithal to put on a helmet and racing suit to compete in a pre-dominately male oriented sport.
I'm married to a 'die-hard NASCAR fan'... I got tired of being a 'nascar widow' every time a race came on TV. Gary (Pappy) would always have it on some sort of race-of any kind. I couldn't beat him so I joined him in watching the races and asking questions.
I also had the occasion to race in a few enduro races. 200 cars on a 1/2 mile track for 150 laps. Racing got into my blood so I started racing the sims with my husband. I am a rookie in NASS '98, but gathering more confidence and expierence with every race."
JK: "My name is Jennifer Hope Kaplan. I've been interested in racing for a while, but never really got involved. I'm interested in a wide variety of things (Computers, Anime, Drawing, Writing, a little bit of everything). I also enjoy driving (in real life). Ask anyone who has driven with me, and they'll tell you how much of a nut for speeding I am. I first got involved in sim racing last year, in the IGN-Truck series. Now I am a member of Team Whump, and I am working on my racing."
DS: "I'm Deborah Stunden, besides my interests in cars and racing, I'm also interested in softball and movies. I'm glad to be able to participate."
TK: QUESTION #1: "How did you first hear about sim racing as organized competition?"
RBC: "My husband got me into sim racing when he was doing a net search for utilities. We found several off-line leagues. However, I have never raced on-line on Hawaii or TEN."
JK: "I was first introduced to sim racing by a friend of mine, Dave McBride. He had been racing for a while, and always talked about it. One day I decided to try it and was hooked."
DS: "My brother-in-law told Calvin (my husband) about sim-racing."
TK: QUESTION #2 (two parts): Explain the process of how you got to that point--(a) how long had you been racing just against the computer?; (b) describe your first league competition.
RBC: "I raced the Computer and it was OK, but when I got involved in running the off-line leagues, I didn't have the time to race full time. But situations change, and now I have time to race and got into off-line racing as a means to see how I could do against other people.
I am racing GP-2 in LFRS for Zero Racing team, my first season, and decided that I would race N2 for this season also, for Zero Racing."
JK: " I never really raced against the computer... I did a few testing runs in his "car". But I never really ran against the computer until I was in the (IGN) Truck league.
The truck league was very interesting. It was my first experience in a league, and getting used to driving on a computer. It wasn't that bad, but the A-I were really strong, and the car set up sucked! Yet in spite of all that, I placed 15/30-something."
DS: "(a) I raced against the computer for about a 1 1/2 years.
(b) I was reluctant at first to compete, but Calvin just said go for it, what do you got to lose, it's not like anyone knows you to be embarassed if things don't go that well. I can't remember exactly how I finished, but do remember it was a top ten, and knew immediately that I could compete".
TK: QUESTION #3: " Do you sim race in offline leagues, online at Hawaii/ or NROS, or both?"
RBC: "I only race in off-line leagues. My server has to much lag time to race on TEN."
JK: "I've raced in IGN Trucks and am now in IRCA--so only offline."
DS: "I race offline. I would like to race online, but long distance calls here in Canada, can
get expensive really fast."
TK: QUESTION #4: " Have you ever won a league event?"
RBC: "I have won my individual race at the Pacific Grand Prix in LFRS. I am a back-marker in NASS '98 though. It seems like the competiton is very tough in NASS '98."
JK: "Not that I can recall. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I'm always improving!"
DS: "I won my first league race (NWST) last season at Pocono. It took me by surprize. Every week we seemed to run well but always pulled up short on the final lap. Calvin kept saying relax, it'll come, and sure enough it did."
TK: QUESTION #5: Many people state that the internet can be a genderless place, but have you seen any gender differences in sim racing? If you have seen any, did you feel you have had to transcend them or have you simply overcome them?
RBC: " I personally have not seen any difference, in terms of gender in the racing leagues I have participated in. I do know of other women who are racing. I see their names on the mailing lists."
JK: "It isn't a genderless place. That's bull! As far as I have heard, I am one of the few females in sim racing. I know I'm the only one in IRCA. And well, I'm the only female Whump. So I kinda feel special. There hasn't really been much to transcend from it though. Yeah, I felt outta place with my bright Purple car, and the Playboy car design kinda annoyed me a bit... But I ended up ignoring it, and all's fine by me."
DS: "Fortunately enough I haven't seen any differences. Doesn't mean there isn't any there, I just haven't seen any. I was lucky enough to have a great race team (nWo Motorsports) sign me, and with their help, I'm on my way to an enjoyable and (I hope) a successful sim career."
TK: QUESTION #6: "Thinking about sim racing only, do you think it is 'a guy's sport'?"
RBC: " I don't believe any sport is an --all guys sport, women are making great advances in all sports. I think sim racing is a genderless sport. Anyone can sit at the computer and run a race and send in their results. If we were just given numbers to ID ourselves then nobody would know the gender of the racer."
JK: "Hell yeah, it's a testosterone driven game, and you have to be able to be single minded, and able to focus on an inane task forever to do it. Of course it's a guys' sport."
DS: "No way! Sure there may be more men in it, but that could be due to men not explaining the sim to women, or maybe cause there isn't time for two people in a household to practice and race races. We like to think of it as a family sport! Both Calvin and I race, as well as trying to teach Stacey (our 11yr old daughter) how to drive."
TK: QUESTION #7: " Did perceived gender differences (on your part) make you at all reluctant to participate? If so, how did you deal with those?"
RBC: " I have never let 'being a woman' stop me from playing softball, racing in real life, or anything else I wanted to do."
JK: "The "perceived gender differences" made it so appealing. I've always been the type to want to break into a man's world. I am the youngest of 5, with my closest siblings in age being brothers. So competing with guys is what makes it so interesting."
DS: "Well, when Calvin first mentioned it to me, I told him no way! I didn't want to make a fool of myself if I finished last or crashed. But we have had the computers linked together for a while
and practiced everything from pitting to drafting and just turning laps. So eventually he convinced me. I guess the hardest thing was to just sign up and get the first race in."
TK: QUESTION #8: "What do you enjoy about sim racing?"
RBC: " Sim racing is as close as I will ever get to drafting Dale Earnhardt at 190 mph at Taladega, or running 3 wide into turn 1 with Martin, Wallace, Jarrett, or the other guys. Learning that I can do better on the outside as opposed to cutting inside at some tracks. I am learning--just barely--how to tweak my set-up for another 1 mph faster, and the satisfaction that I can do well in a long race, and that sometimes racing is just luck."
JK: "I love making fun of the computer generated spotter. The sounds and graphics are amusing. It's just a new challenge that actually can keep my attention."
DS: "I find sim racing enjoyable and exciting. We have had the privilege to meet some great people who share the same interests as us, which can be, believe it or not, a real chore here in Canada as racing of any kind isn't as big here yet as it is in the USA, but it is growing."
TK: QUESTION #9: "What do women friends who are race fans--think about your participation in sim racing?"
RBC: " My daughters are always giving me advice, my best friend thinks I am wasting my time sitting at the computer playing a game, my husband encourages me, but doesn't like it because I
ran a 1/2 second faster lap than he did!" :-)
JK: "I actually don't know many females that are race fans. I know females that know/are related to male race fans, and they find it interesting, but they could never do it themselves."
DS: "They weren't really interested at first, but after I finally won one, their interests were piqued. I have tried to talk them into racing offline, but I always get the same response, 'My husband is always on the computer, and doesn't want to show me how'. It's too bad, as I have found that a few hours together on the computer can really bring you together."
TK: QUESTION #10: " If you could talk to other women in general, how would you encourage them to participate? What is it about sim racing that makes it fun for you?"
RBC: " I would encourage other women to race. Gender means nothing when you are racing the computer, send in your race results, and do well. The only way the director can tell if you are a woman or man is by your name."
JK: "Well, you have to be the type of person who likes to try new things, and you can't be discouraged/intimidated easily. You just have to keep trying and work at it, and it gets better all
the time. Basically, what makes it fun for me is the thrill of teh competition, the skill of driving, and the nifty graphics and sounds when I crash the car... Why do you think I am a Whump after
DS: "Simply put: 'If you enjoy racing, give it a shot'. The worst that can happen is you crash, but on the other hand, you could win. Every race I just try and do better than I did the race before.
I have won,. I have finished top 5's, top 10's, middle of the pack, bottom of the pack, even crashed and got a DNF, but the important thing is what you do the next week, and what information you learned from it. Winning is great, but isn't important in winning a championship. Consistent finishes are what wins championships. I would have to say the most fun part of it all is, when you compete in a league, is to see how you stack up against others, and I have proven to myself that I can compete with them and occasionally win a race."
TK: QUESTION #11: " From your perspective and experience as a female sim racer---what makes you tick?"
RBC: " I love the competition, I love the fact that I can run my race and find that I have beaten other sim racers, or scored higher than maybe 10 to 20 other sim racers. The next race I try even harder to beat a few more in the results."
JK: "I'd say that is one of the most interesting questions I have ever had to answer. I don't think I really tick, unless you want to compare me to a time bomb. But I guess I'm easily distracted, or can't be pulled away from something. I like competition. I hate sexist pigs. And I love to joke around... my sponsor has always been Cartoon Network... now that says something..."
DS: "I guess what makes me tick is realizing that I can't win every race all the time, but knowing that on any given day, I can win!"
TK: QUESTION #12: " What kind of controller do you use?"
RBC: " I use a Thrustmaster GP-1 wheel. I would use a T-2, but my husband is disabled, he lost both legs in Desert Storm, so he can't use pedals. The GP-1 wheel allows him to race also, so I got used to using the wheel also, I do much better than a joystick."
JK: "I hate to say it, but the 'Thrustmaster 2' steering wheel and pedal controllers."
DS: "I use a Mad Catz wheel and pedal combo. It's not the best, but allows for some fun. We don't have a big selection of wheels here for durability and a good price, so we make do with what we got."
TK: QUESTION #13: "Is there anybody else in your household that sim races?"
RBC: "My husband races, and my daughters will dabble in it."
JK: "Well, not in my household, but my fiancee' just started racing."
DS: "Yes, my husband Calvin, and if her interest stays our daughter Stacey is turning laps, getting ready to start offline racing maybe as early as next season."
TK: QUESTION #14: "Have you ever been involved in real racing?"
RBC: " I have raced in real life in enduros, and helped my husband build a couple of Street stocks, and raced in several 'powder puff' derbies, but never in an organized real life venue."
JK: "The closest I have been to being involved was I had a friend who handed out trophies at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ, and I dated a guy who raced there."
DS: "Yes. I come from a family were racing was always at the foreground, as does Calvin. We both compete at a local Friday night track, Delaware Speedway Park, just west of London Ontario."
TK: QUESTION #15: "What is your occupation?"
RBC: " I am housewife now, but did work as a Substance Abuse Counselor."
JK: "I am a college student, and I am studying to be a High School Biology teacher. My 'Part- Time' job is working with computers."
DS: "I am currently employed by Eaton Yale Inc. as a CNC lathe setup-operator. We manufacture various parts for Chrysler."
TK: QUESTION #16: "Do you have any parting comments?"
RBC: "I feel that too often society dictates what a person can or cannot do because of their gender. I would like to see more women in racing--sim or real. A person should not be limited in what they can do just because they are a woman or man. Thank you, I hope this helps."
JK: "Can't think of any right now."
DS: " I would like to inform others who are competing out there, how important a team is. They share all kinds of information and can really help you out. I was lucky to meet a great team with a bunch of great people at nWo Motorsports. I would like to thank them all but it would take forever, but I do want to thank Jerry Baker (team Owner) and Bob Coon for taking a chance on me. Jeremy Snapp, Ted Scurlock, Kevin Nunn, Jerry Durham, Eddie Kwan, Dave Mills, Mike Spinelli, Jim Stunden, and the rest of the guys for all their help, that they have had for me. Thanks!"
TK: "Well ladies, that concludes our interview. 'Racin' With Tim' and all our sponsors would like to thank you for your help in making this month's column interesting. Hopefully, some women
race fans will read this and decide they want to compete in sim racing. Perhaps next season some of them will race right alongside of you--because of what you've said here today. THANKS!!"
ALL: You're welcome!
Well readers, that about does it for this month's column. After all was said and done--I must say that I was very pleased by the responses of our sisters here in sim racing. I am continually amazed at the friendliness of folks in racing!----:-)
Well, I'll see ya next month--when we return to a non-interview format for a few columns with a discussion of NASCAR sim shock theory: Is there such a thing? The month following that we will discuss online racing on TEN and in an interview in a few months we go straight to the creators of these NASCAR sims (Sierra/Papyrus) for an interview. That interview, titled: "Interview with my Pappy" will surely be of interest to NASCAR sim racers. --------------------------Tim Kellebrew #56 TSW/Teleport Pontiac
This column is not endorsed or sponsored by NASCAR or Papyrus/Sierra. These are registered trademarks. Mention of any sim racing team, organization, or cosponsors in this column does not imply endorsement by Simulator Cyberworld. The opinions expressed in this column are soley the opinions of the author and those quoted. The appearance of organizations, teams, and any sponsors mentioned herein does not necessarily imply they endorse one another--unless it is clearly stated.
NASCAR® is a registered trademark of National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. The author of this column is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by Nascar. The official NASCAR® website is NASCAR ONLINE (www.nascar.com). NASCAR Racing ©1994, is a registered trademark of Papyrus Design Group, Inc. NASCAR Racing is officially licensed by NASCAR®.
RACIN' WITH TIM---March 1998 Copyright @ March 11, 1998; Oregon Trail Racing Promotions, Inc.