By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As Jesse Iwuji Motorsports debuts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, team co-owners Iwuji and Emmitt Smith hope to connect the worlds of NASCAR, sim racing, and STEM together.
The U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. is transitioning into the U.S. Naval Reserves and a full-time career as a driver in NASCAR. Iwuji will drive the No. 34 Equity Prime Mortgage Chevrolet Camaro SS in the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300 on Saturday, Feb 19. While, the Carrollton, TX native transitions out of military enlistment himself, he aims to aid others going through a similar transition.
“We’re going to be able to build programs to help these transitioning service members,” explained Iwuji. “Folks who might be transitioning out of the military into civilian force, a lot of them have so many skills that they’ve learned in the military. You know, imagine working on tanks, jets, ships, working on all the different mechanical components of all that we have. You have engineers, we have electricians. We have electronics, got we have all these different types of folks.
“Who are super capable people who have learned a lot and had on the job experience for many years? We’re developing programs so that we can be able to help some of these people transition over to motorsports. Whether they come with us, you know, do a stint with us and go off somewhere else and do something else.”
Previously Iwuji has also partnered with the eRacing Association to promote sim racing events on iRacing. Through sim racing and eSports, Iwuji and Smith hope to create opportunities for kids and those transitioning out of the military to use STEM education. That is regardless of whether the participants remain with the team.
“eSports and figuring out a way to link sim racing with the stem aspect of things (is big), admitted Iwuji. “There’s so many things you can do on the sim racing platforms out there that are very much. Have a lot to do with engineering, math, sciences and all that. We can use that to really pique the interest of these kids and really bring them in the motorsports and show them that motorsports is more than just driving.”
Through eSports and sim racing, the STEM education can aid with computer engineering, broadcasting, and computer programming. Multiple outlets broadcast events including iRacing itself, eRacr, WatchFTF.gg, among others.
The growth of eSports and sim racing within NASCAR and other motorsports communities has been exponential in recent years. The eRacing Association has sponsored Iwuji in four NASCAR races. Their first appearance was in the Xfinity Series in 2020 at Kansas Speedway. The company also were onboard in three of Iwuji’s Camping World Truck Series starts.
The eRacing Association hosts tournaments on iRacing with $5,000 cash prizes or more. While the gap between motorsports and eSports and sim racing is already being bridged by the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series and other sanctioned series, Iwuji’s intent is to bridge the gap from a different angle. By using STEM, both Iwuji and Smith hope to showcase all parts of motorsports, both real-life and virtual.
“eSports is one of the biggest things and motorsports and eSports is also big (with) sim racing,” observed Iwuji. “We figured what we can do since we do have ties to the eSports world, we have our eRacing Association. Which is one of the companies that we’re partnered up with as well, and some of our co-owners and this team are also part of that too.
“Well, what we want to do is kind of bridge that bridge the two eSports and motorsports. [We want] use that as a way to help stimulate that STEM aspect of what we’re trying to project out to these kids. Because we know that if you sit down a kid down and just a normal classroom type environment, a lot of times it’s gonna be very difficult for them to pay attention the entire time and focus.”
The eRacing Association also includes events on Mario Kart and Gran Turismo in addition to iRacing. Their next iRacing tournament, through the Omega Cup Series is Feb 21 and 22.
Meanwhile, for Iwuji and Smith, they will make their team’s debut after acquiring owner points from JD Motorsports.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Jordan / Kickin’ the Tires.