Episode 17

Winning a $1 Million Drive?

Despite being in lockdown, thousands are racing each other in the hope of securing a race seat worth $1,000,000. I’m one of them, and you can be too!

Now, when it comes to this journey of mine, my #RacingGrind, I’m realistically looking at an entry-level series to race in. After all, I don’t really know if I’ll be any good yet, so diving into an elite competition would be stupid, and that’s if I could afford it in the first place, which I can’t.

But what if I am good enough already? What if, somehow, I am just as quick as the professionals, if not quicker? What if I have all this talent, and yet it’s being wasted through a lack of opportunity? There must be some way, somehow, for me to prove this talent to someone, right?

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Luckily, there is! Better yet, I (or you for that matter) don’t need a full, top-of-the-range sim-rig that costs thousands of pounds. All I need is my smartphone.

Three years ago, Darren Cox – creator of the Nissan GT Academy competition – devised the World’s Fastest Gamer competition. The objective is simple: take the fastest virtual drivers from a selection of video games, fly them to America (in this instance Miami), and put them through a series of racing, fitness and personality tests. The prize for the winner of this competition? A season of professionally racing GT3 machinery in the GT World Challenge, a prize worth US$1 million!

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So how does this relate to you or me, and our smartphones? Well, last week, qualifying for the third iteration of World’s Fastest Gamer began, using a free-to-play smartphone game called Gear.Club. In order to qualify, you must complete two time-trials in the Koenigsegg Agera RS, and have the fastest combined time at the end of the entry period. Easy, right?

If you want to enter yourself, the competition opened on April 15th, and runs until May 6th, so you have just under 2 weeks to download the game and perfect your times. But what if you don’t win? No worries, as this isn’t your only chance to get to the WFG3 finals. 2 more qualifying events are set to take place on the platform in the next couple of months, so there’s plenty of time to practice!

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Now, I found out about this competition last Thursday, just as the entry period opened. Personally, I had never even heard of the game before, let alone played it, but it’s a dream of mine to go racing nonetheless. Therefore, I downloaded the app immediately and set to work getting my times in.

Initially, I found the handling mechanics quite difficult to get used to, as it felt quite arcade-y in comparison to Real Racing 3, a mobile game I have played on-and-off for years. Knowing that this is probably my only way in to professional racing, though, I have devoted a fair amount of my last week getting used to the game, in order to maximise my chances.

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The game’s graphics are, for a mobile game, reasonably high quality. The “circuits” used aren’t real tracks, but fabricated street tracks, meaning it’s quite difficult to work out braking points, as there aren’t many reference points. The car itself is also tricky to initially master, as it’s prone to oversteer, especially at higher speeds. The means that occasionally you end up fishtailing down a straight before lightly grazing one of the walls, which magically returns you to a solid 15 mph regardless of your entry velocity. All of this combined means it’s not the easiest game to master, but the game is quite satisfying when you complete a good run. So, how have my times stacked up against the rest of the world? Quite good considering, I think.

In order to be placed on the leaderboard, you have to have a time inside the top 500 in the world on both time-trials. Sounds quite difficult, but I actually managed to put myself in that situation at the end of my first day on the game! Better yet, at the end of Saturday (day 3 on the game), one of my times made the top 100! Safe to say it’s actually remarkably easy to get used to the way the game works, even if it is difficult to master, which I’m not remotely close to doing.

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It’s worth noting that, in order to keep the playing field fairly level, attempts at setting times are limited by a ticket system. You can have a maximum of 5 tickets at any one time, and it takes 2 hours for a ticket to replenish. Therefore, I have been getting 10 daily attempts in, in two sets of 5. You could of course obtain more attempts, but these come at a cost – ranging from 79p for 5 extra tickets, all the way up to £43.99 for 375 extra tickets. I’d expect you’re only buying these if you feel confident of clinching first place, though.

Naturally, as more competitors have entered, my times have slipped down the standings a little, and at the time of writing I’m 122nd overall. A result I’d be happy with if the competition ended today, but that won’t stop me from striving for that top spot.

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