California Gazette

Derek Gleeson: From Sim Racer to Road Racer – Embracing the Future of Motorsport

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Derek Gleeson, an aspiring Sim racer, made waves in the world of road racing when he secured a commendable 5th place in a local event at Willow Springs, situated just miles from San Diego. In a candid interview, Gleeson expressed his belief that the path to professional racing lies in Simulation racing, a sentiment shared by many young racers emerging from the hotbed of talent in San Diego.

“I truly believe that Sim racing is the ultimate way to hone and refine your racing skills,” Gleeson asserted. “The ability to practice anytime, anywhere, and with any car or track offers unmatched flexibility and opportunities for improvement. Moreover, the feedback and coaching from fellow drivers and coaches are invaluable in becoming faster and more consistent.”

Gleeson’s love for racing started early in life, as he idolized Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar drivers. However, aware of the challenges and expenses associated with traditional racing, he turned to Sim racing – a form of motorsport that utilizes realistic computer simulations to emulate real-world racing experiences. With just a computer, a steering wheel, and pedals, he could compete against global racers without the risk and financial burden of real-track driving.

“I discovered the magic of Sim racing at the age of 15, and it instantly captivated me,” Gleeson recalled. He immersed himself in online leagues and communities in San Diego, where he connected with like-minded Sim racers who shared his passion.

To enhance the realism and immersion of his Sim racing journey, Gleeson invested in upgraded equipment, including a powerful computer, a larger monitor, an advanced steering wheel with pedals, and even a motion simulator replicating real driving forces and sensations.

“I wanted to make my Sim racing experience as authentic as possible,” said Derek Gleeson, explaining the importance of a lifelike setup to elevate his performance and enjoyment.

The dedication and talent Gleeson developed in Sim racing paid off when he seized the opportunity to participate in a local road racing event sponsored by a San Diego car dealership. Driving a Mazda MX-5 Miata, he competed against 20 experienced drivers in his class and exceeded expectations by securing a remarkable 5th place. Merely 0.5 seconds separated him from the 4th-place finisher, an impressive achievement for a first-time road racer.

“The feeling of racing on an actual track with real cars was incredible,” Gleeson shared. “Though different from Sim racing, I credit my skills in the virtual realm for helping me adapt quickly to the car and track, instilling confidence and comfort behind the wheel.”

Gleeson firmly believes that his Sim racing background provided a competitive edge over some of his opponents. “Sim racing is undoubtedly the future of motorsport,” he asserted. “It’s more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable than traditional racing while simultaneously preparing you for the real deal, should the opportunity ever arise.”

Looking ahead, Gleeson aspires to embark on more real-track racing endeavors. His vision includes forming a local racing team comprising like-minded Sim racers from San Diego. He aims to support and mentor young talents with dreams of becoming professional racers, especially those hailing from his hometown.

“San Diego boasts an abundance of young, promising racers,” Gleeson noted. “There are numerous talented Sim racers here who deserve a chance to showcase their skills on actual tracks. I am eager to assist them in achieving their goals while fostering a sense of enjoyment throughout their journey.”

Derek Gleeson’s journey serves as a true inspiration for all racing enthusiasts, whether virtual or real. He exemplifies that with passion, dedication, and hard work, any dream is attainable.

“At the core, I’m just a guy who loves racing,” Derek Gleeson humbly stated. “Whether it’s on a computer or a track, I thrive on the thrill of speed and the joy of racing.”

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