Why a Four-Time BTCC Champion Created a Sim Racing Business

Why a Four-Time BTCC Champion Has A Sim Racing Business.jpg
Puresims is owned, and was founded by, Ash Sutton, a joint holder of the record for most BTCC titles. We caught up with the NAPA Racing UK driver to explore his new showroom.

All images taken by OverTake.

A record-equalling four British Touring Car Championship titles and a fresh contact with NAPA Racing UK until the end of 2026. Ash Sutton is busy enough already.

Yet, instead of relying solely on the 10 BTCC race rounds in each season, the 30-year-old has invested his money in a sim racing business – Puresims.

The venture has just moved to a brand-new showroom in the corner of a Suffolk industrial estate, sandwiched in between neighbouring English counties Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, complementing its online store.

This is not, as it may seem initially, an arrive-and-drive sim centre, acting like go-kart hire. Instead, what makes it distinctive in the sim racing space, the Haverhill outfit is a testbed to compose sim setups for clients or facilitate equipment test drives.

Puresims.jpg

Puresim's new showroom, Haverhill, UK.

How a Helping Hand Turned Into a Business​

Sutton was first bitten by the sim racing bug back in 2019 before the COVID-induced pandemic accelerated demand for his rig-building expertise.

“Five years ago, I wanted to move up from the desk clamp and office chair combination and get a proper rig,” recalls Sutton to OverTake.

“I went through the pain of building and assembling everything myself, making errors, buying the wrong part, drilling some holes and returning some products.

“The process took me a lot longer than I wanted it to and probably cost me more money than it needed to. I thought there could be a gap in the market for a bespoke service especially when tied to my motorsport connections.

“The drivers I knew wanted a sim set up at home but didn't know how to go about it.”

“At the start of 2019, it was just me building rigs for people – they were buying all the equipment, and I was assembling. At the end of that year, I formerly made Puresims a business, and then COVID hit.”

Ash Sutton BTCC Oulton Park 03.jpg

BTCC for NAPA Racing UK, one of Ash Sutton's day jobs.

From there Sutton’s enterprise created 60 bespoke sim racing setups during 2020. But, alongside the boom in demand came supply constraints, shortages and (in the UK) Brexit-induced import duties when purchasing directly from EU-based sim racing manufacturers.

So, the 39-time BTCC race winner decided to become a national distributor for several brands, as he explains:

“The world at the time was very hard in general, but for people to go and get products and bring them from overseas was a headache.

“So, I reached out to all the suppliers we're dealing with already, such as Cube Controls or Simucube, and asked about a UK shop. Not one said no. They all listed us as a distributor. Now we’re even the sole UK distributors for Sim-Lab, BDH and others."

The Supercar Dealer of Sim Racing​


As the online order list grew, Sutton dreamt about having a showroom that could show off the products in the best light.

Bear in mind, that starting a full new simulation setup from scratch, with a direct drive wheel base, triple monitors and a cockpit can run into several thousands of pounds – it perhaps pays to try before you buy when possible.

Sutton employs two team members full-time, for both sales and after-sales support, with Christian Rose showing us around the venue during its opening day recently. A third, part-time team member assists with equipment hire at events.

Ash Sutton at Puresims.jpg

Ash Sutton testing one of Puresim's bespoke sim racing setups.

A brightly lit and welcoming foyer leads you to a wall of equipment, all neatly displayed with the same sort of attention to detail you may expect in a sports car dealership. As it turns out, that is exactly the idea.

“The best way to explain it is like when someone buys a Porsche,” compares Sutton.

“You sit there, and they show you the configurator and run through what colour you want your car in or what seats you’d like. We're going for that approach but in sim racing.

“When you visit, you get to see which seat fits you best, pick out the steering wheel and test the pedals. Then we build a package based around that individual and above the showroom we have the bespoke area with three rigs to try the setup.”

It has taken 12 months from the initial idea to completion. The lease deal was decided in September last year before Puresims took on the building two months later, and then the diminutive team set to work – friends and family chipping in, including Ash’s dad Warren.

How Sim Racing Sharpens Motorsport Skills​


Sutton claims that not only does practising on a simulator help him warm up before each race weekend, but it also sharpens his race craft.

“I love the online races for that element,” he enthuses. “You don't know who you're racing against, you don't know what they're capable of and you don't know what they are going to do next.

“To be put in a race with 20 other people, that can put pressure on me. I don't know what I will be up against every time I go into a session, and I like that. It gets the nerves going and certainly sharpens up my skillset.”

Ash Sutton BTCC Oulton Park 01.jpg

Another podium, this time second at Oulton Park. Sutton took 12 BTCC race wins in 2023.

As for the year ahead, a record-setting BTCC title is the main goal. Rival Colin Turkington is a follow four-time champion, and this season both could become the first-ever driver the clinch five.

“I am chasing that record now I've got to the point where I've matched Colin, and I know he wants it as much as me,” Sutton explains with determination.

"If he wins it this year, then I would have to get back another title just to be level again. So, it's a big, big thing for me to go and chase.”

While competing for the NAPA-supported Focus-equipped Alliance Racing squad is what most followers may know Sutton for, he is seemingly just as committed to the sim racing business.

“I'm still heavily involved in Puresims even during the season. I'm very lucky with the team around me so that when I leave for a test or race, this place runs seamlessly.

“Which is great, but also, I'm still the one that places the orders. I’ll be at Brands Hatch or Snetterton with the touring car, and I might come out to an email, and I must do a few things for the business.”
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A freelance sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, OverTake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

Nice article.

Too bad such a customer experience does not exist for poor people like me :(

*PureSims, not having PureRims on the right wall is a missed opportunity :p
 
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I used to "know" him and race with him way back before he moved into BTCC. He was running small monoposti at the time, Formula Ford or something, and we both took part for several seasons in the British Sim Racing community leagues on iRacing, using the KIA for want of another touring car in those days. He often didn't bother with quali, started from the back of the grid and enjoyed rushing through the field in the first five laps at incredible speed and taking huge risks. If it worked, it was magic, if not - well ... Seemed like a nice and hugely competitive chap in the chat. Must have been 10 years or so ago.
 
Premium
Nice article. I would have loved to visit a shop like that before buying my gears. Although a shop like this one probably won't deal with the lower end equipment I ended up with (Moza R5, ES, and SRP).

Anyone know what monitors are those in the setup shown? I have not see any curved monitor with that small R number. Looks like sub 800mm.
 
Nice article. I would have loved to visit a shop like that before buying my gears. Although a shop like this one probably won't deal with the lower end equipment I ended up with (Moza R5, ES, and SRP).

Anyone know what monitors are those in the setup shown? I have not see any curved monitor with that small R number. Looks like sub 800mm.
Just 100R, but with such wide monitors and lens distortion to the sides of the photo it looks even more.
 
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It's a shame that someone didn't proof read this before publishing. Alot of spelling mistakes on an otherwise nice article.

At least I know such a service exists for when I win the lotto! Thanks Ash and best of luck this season mate
 
" Though I have a simulation company and BTCC champion don't dare ask me what my favourite sim is "

:coffee: :x3:
 
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Premium
Just 100R, but with such wide monitors and lens distortion to the sides of the photo it looks even more.
Surely when AC Evo comes out, it will support triple curved monitor setup, so one can specify not only the size, relative angle of the monitors, but also the curvature. And render the image with proper correction for the curvature.
 
Surely when AC Evo comes out, it will support triple curved monitor setup, so one can specify not only the size, relative angle of the monitors, but also the curvature. And render the image with proper correction for the curvature.
They announced this? In iRacing you can already put in curves of your (triple) screens.
But that's the only Sim that does this as far as i know.
 
Hey Ashley, you are free to use my lovely BTCC 2019-2024 Skin Pack for rFactor 2 found in the Steam rFactor 2 workshop over at PureSim. Any ex MG driver is a friend of mine :). Good luck this season, go set a new record.
 
Premium
They announced this? In iRacing you can already put in curves of your (triple) screens.
But that's the only Sim that does this as far as i know.
Nothing I have hear, but just thought it is a reasonable expectation given the proliferation of the curved monitors. I play exclusively AC now, so hope that will happen.
 

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