Don Schumacher Racing’s Ron Capps is gearing up for a busy few days of on-track competition, all from the comforts of his own home. By participating in three iRacing events occurring this week, the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion will have the opportunity to showcase his virtual racing skills through highly-publicized online events, all of which boast a slew of stars drawing from multiple auto-racing series.
As one of the earliest to get involved with online racing, Capps’ first foray into the world of virtual motorsports began in the early 2000s. While NHRA drag racing is his passion, the life-long auto-racing enthusiast jumps at the opportunity to get behind the wheel of any type of race car, including virtual ones.
Capps was on the forefront in the early days of web-based racing entertainment, which led him to join forces with iRacing in 2008 when the organization was still in its infancy. As one of iRacing’s original team members, Capps has been a source of information and feedback for the world’s premier racing simulation online video game platform for well over a decade. Through his role as a beta tester, Capps is tasked with test-driving iRacing’s cars via an at-home simulator, providing feedback as to whether or not the ride felt realistic, and suggesting ideas for improvement.
“I’ve always been a huge gamer,” explained Capps. “I went to college to be a software engineer, and obviously, I’ve always had a love for racing. Back when computer gaming was just starting out, a guy by the name of David Kaemmer was pretty much the guru in the racing world as far as anything gaming-related; he had a cult following. When he co-founded iRacing, I heard rumors about it and reached out and asked if there was any way I could help, and low and behold, I got a note back and I got to be one of their early beta testers.
“I’ve been able to watch iRacing grow over the years. It was originally nothing but NASCAR and to look at it now, how many different series are represented, it’s just awesome,” said Capps, whose stock car experience extends beyond a digital screen. He once tested with the International Race of Champions (IROC) series at Talladega Superspeedway and Chicagoland Speedway.
First up for Capps on his iRacing calendar is the bi-weekly Replacements event occurring tonight, Tuesday, March 24, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Behind the wheel of the No. 28 NAPA AUTO PARTS stock car, the 64-time NHRA winner will take on the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bubba Wallace, and William Byron as he attempts to defeat some of racing’s biggest names on the high banks of Kansas Speedway. As the sole straight-line speedster competing in the event, Capps revels in the chance to represent NHRA as drag racing’s ambassador in an ultra-competitive field. The race will be streamed on Twitch, and fans are encouraged to take advantage of an in-car camera perspective thanks to NAPA AUTO PARTS’ ‘NAPA View.’ The view from inside Capps’ virtual cockpit will be streamed via NAPA’s YouTube channel.
Next up for Capps is the weekly World of Outlaws iRacing Invitational, occurring each Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET. Once again, the driver of the No. 28 NAPA car will represent drag racing fans everywhere as NHRA’s sole competitor. Each race will be live-streamed on DIRTvision.com. Capps will close out his week with World Wide Technology Raceway’s inaugural invitational iRacing event, the eSports Bommarito.com Throwback 500, occurring on Sunday, March 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET., and airing on Speed51.com.
“For so long, I’ve been talking to so many drivers about iRacing, and I’m not sure how much anyone took me seriously until a few years ago when they saw how much it grew,” said Capps. “Between the Chili Bowl and iRacing sponsoring drivers, it became more mainstream. Shawn Langdon now has a simulator, and so does Cruz Pedregon. J.R. Todd is in the process of getting one. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Matt Smith and I have been racing against each other quite a bit lately. Representing our sport in these big races coming up is going to be monumental for me. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m always proud to represent NHRA.”