One would assume that sim racing is a pretty low-risk venture. After all, with accidents resulting in nothing more than dented pride and a hit of the reset button, the stakes are pretty low when it comes to racing virtual cars.
But maybe don’t tell that to Denny Hamlin. Hamlin, a NASCAR driver competing in the series’ eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series GEICO 70, finished last in the 39-car field because of a technical issue, but rather than it being a problem with his car, or the iRacing software he was racing with, it was a problem with his TV. A problem caused by his daughter, who switched it off mid-race.
I had so many questions about what just happened.. then we found 2nd hand footage at the end. I cannot believe it. pic.twitter.com/BfN1sNAsg8— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) April 26, 2020
In a video posted to Twitter, Hamlin can be seen in his home sim rig concentrating on the race, when his daughter walks in and asks if she can can “go play go karts”. In her hand is a TV remote. You can probably guess what happens next.
After being waved off by her dad, Hamlin’s daughter’s finger slips on the power button, turning off the centre screen in his triple-screen sim rig and leaving him blind. Hamlin sounds angry, his daughter says “uh oh” as she quickly slips away.
It could be staged (it seems all too convenient that someone’s filming all this on their phone), but Hamlin is a solid driver who won the first virtual NASCAR invitational, the Dixie Vodka 150 (below), back in March. He’s talented enough to not have to resort to cheap stunts to get attention.
Genuine or staged, the incident highlights that technical issues can rear their head just as much in online motorsport as in real life. The technology is different, but just as a failed engine can scuttle a team’s hopes for a race win out on an actual track, so can a dodgy internet connection, a power failure or, indeed, a wildcard kid wielding a remote.