Interview with Fordzilla racer and motorsport artist Cammie Sturch

Motorsports fanatic, amazing artist, Team Fordzilla driver and racing pride ambassador: Cammie Sturch lives and breathes racing! We talked with the Go for the Gap founder about owning a small business, her love for sim racing and how she easily beats prejudice with her skill on the track.
Photo credit: Cammie Sturch

OverTake: How did your passion for motorsports start?

Oh how far back do we go? Well I was in my mother's tummy when she was dragged to Brands Hatch by my father to watch Mansell win the last F1 race to be hosted there. Okay not that far back? I remember watching the 1992 F1 season on VHS over and over whilst playing a primitive F1 simulator on my Atari called Microprose Grand Prix – I think that's where it began.

OverTake: And how did you get invested with playing more racing games and then sim racing?

I also loved playing on my cousin's Sega machine when we'd visit. He had Super Monaco GP and the bright, crisp cartoon like visuals really hooked me in, along with the great midi tunes. It wasn't so realistic but the music, and hearing 16bit Ayrton Senna shouting 'Come on!' and 'Final Lap!' really did help get me invested. It was all so fast paced and exciting compared to the FIFA games that looked positively dreary and static in comparison.

OverTake: What is your favourite title at the moment?

Recently I'm really enamoured with a little indie racing title called Circuit Superstars. With my self-employment work taking up most of my days, I don't have so much time to practice sim racing as I'd like – I'm hoping that changes a bit as my income becomes a bit more secure and I'm not working 60 hours a week to scrape by. Circuit Superstars is a cutesy, top down racing game with a Micro Machines-esque quirk to it but with more realistic physics. It's easy to pick up, doesn't take itself too seriously and is a really fun racing wind down after a day of the more serious stuff!

OverTake: Do you have any idols from the scene?

I suppose my idols have changed a little through the ages. At first it was Nigel Mansell because with that VHS tape of the 92 season – that was what I saw, and Mansell Mania had recently swept the UK. More recently I suppose I could say I idolise Charlie Martin. It's tricky because I didn't imagine becoming friends with her, so it's odd to say I idolise her when she's just one of my friends. I guess "idol" brings to mind the idea of an untouchable unreachable person. But yes, Charlie Martin, especially given what we have in common. It was especially great to out-brake and overtake her in an esports championship, something of a bucket list moment for me.

OverTake: You have your own small business called Go for the Gap. How did that start?

Well it was sink or swim essentially. In early 2019 the mobile game studio I was an animator for was shut down by the parent company and publisher and so I went freelance – a little frustrated at the third redundancy of my decade in animation because of a company's financial troubles. For a while I worked freelance for other animation studios, graphic design companies too small to have an in-house animator full time and doing occasional logo work. After working with Jess Shanahan aka. The Racing Mentor a few times and her giving me some wonderful advice, being the successful businesswoman she is, I pivoted my work towards the motorsport community more and slowly built an audience. That ranges from simracers to clubracers needing logos, Twitch graphics and illustrations. Soon I realised that there may be a market for people who want clean, crisp digital illustrations created by an artist who not only loves motorsport, but understands it from a driver's point of view too.

OverTake: Which artwork are you the most proud of?

Each piece I make tends to become my favourite and is then replaced by the next one I make, which is probably normal for any artist! I suppose my favourite piece would be Lauda's Ferrari 312. It's not my favourite car, but I think it's one where I got the reflections right and it has this balance of photo, 3D render and comic illustration. I try to make each one slightly different in style, be it minimal like my piece of James Baldwin's McLaren, more energetic like my Patreon exclusive Tyrrell 012 or more painterly like my most recent piece created as a commission for Josh Revell on YouTube.

OverTake: Do you still do commissioned art?

I do take on commission work although I have to balance it around other work. Working purely on commissions unfortunately doesn't pay the bills and I'm probably at the upper limit of what I can reasonably ask people to fork out for a totally custom piece of artwork. Each takes me over a week to produce and I charge Β£250 which includes a 16x24inch print.

OverTake: Do you have goals for future products that we can look forward to?

It would be exciting to be able to work closely with a race team or manufacturer to produce official art prints as part of their merchandise. There are a few brands I'm speaking to, but I can't really say more than that. I am hopeful it'll happen some day!

OverTake: Let's talk about Team Fordzilla: how did you become a part of the team?

In late 2019, Team Fordzilla came to the UK for their fifth and final tryout event in Europe. Their goal was to find fresh new sim racing talent to cultivate their own team as it were rather than just setting up a team and poaching drivers from other teams. In December they set up at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London with some rigs set up for both Gran Turismo Sport and Forza 7 – they essentially ran a series of time trials and races and those with the most wins and fastest times would be in with a chance of being picked for the team. I remember being very nervous as the clock ticked 9pm and the event ended. But I squeezed a victory and was the fastest Gran Turismo Sport driver of the weekend! Then I was awarded a PS4 Pro which I was not prepared for, and had to lug it home on the tube, train and taxi whilst probably looking quite easy to rob. They're chunky consoles and not easy to carry around without looking like an obvious target! Just after Christmas the team contacted me to congratulate me on winning the event and offer me a place on the team.

OverTake: Fordzilla has the β€œWomen to the track” initiative. Can you talk me through what exactly this is?

Let's be honest, racing and sim racing is a bit of a sausage fest (my words, not Fordzilla's). The aim is to simply highlight the imbalance of men to women in motorsport and try to attract a few more women into a sport they could actually really excel at. It's just about opening that channel, opening that door and giving women the chance. I think it's something W-Series is doing successfully with their first season and lockdown esports championship as well as other sim racing series that have focused on women, transwomen and non-binary people.

OverTake: You are also an ambassador for Racing Pride. Can you tell me more about that movement and your role?

Before I raced with Team Fordzilla, I had been racing independently but running a custom livery I had produced in conjunction with Racing Pride in an effort to spread their message from the real track to the virtual track. This is quite effective if you can be out there winning, which thankfully I was (this was iRacing Formula Renault at the time). I even managed to beat Alex Albon in one race! He spun on lap 1 and I finished 8th out of 25, but I'll take any small victory I can.

As I joined Team Fordzilla, it meant I had a more prominent platform in sim racing, a slightly bigger voice and more media attention which included a BBC interview. It was at Autosport 2020 then that founders Richard Morris (now in Britcar) and Christopher Sharp decided to make me their first esport ambassador. Their other ambassadors are real drivers and include Charlie Martin (Britcar), Sarah Moore (W-Series), and Abbie Eaton (The Grand Tour/W-Series). My role along with theirs is to essentially to be visible, to make the grid a more welcoming place where no one is having to hide who they are just to fit in. Motorsport is about one thing: the racing. Why should it matter who you love or what gender you identify as? I will say though that any negative attention I had on my appearance or gender quickly disappeared when I was leaving them behind in the races. ;)

What is your favourite artwork from Cammie? Leave her a kind message or tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg!
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