We had the chance to visit the Apex Racing Team Sim Centre on their open day. There, we spoke to their drivers, and even competed in an onsite tournament.
On 25 September, the Apex Racing Team opened their doors for people to attend and have a little look around. We took the opportunity to see where the Apex team’s drivers practice and compete in their many championships.
Many esports teams have begun to create their own bases of operations in recent years. Coanda, Altus and Redline all have sim centres that many of their drivers race out of, and Apex’s broke ground in early 2021.
The Apex Racing Team are one of the leading iRacing specialist teams. They won the Daytona 24 hours Special Event in January, and in 2021 their drivers Peter Berryman and Jon Robertson won the Dallara iRacing Grand Prix Championship and iRacing World Rallycross Championship.
Their driver Kevin Ellis, Jr. also won the Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB and finished third in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup in 2022. This year also saw the team begin to venture out onto other sim platforms with the introduction of the VCO Esports Racing World Cup and Esports Racing League.
Competing on rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione for the first time, they’ve shown immense progress. They finished runner-up on the iRacing legs of the World Cup and Spring Cup, but they initially struggled on the other two platforms.
They then made it into the Summer Cup Masters as top team thanks to finishing 3rd on rFactor 2, winning on iRacing and coming 2nd on ACC. At the ERL Fall Cup opener on iRacing, Apex won that too and with the Fall Masters taking place on iRacing, they look like a strong contender to win the Fall Cup.
The Apex brand however is more than just the race team. They also have their own in-house broadcasting division (Apex Racing TV), an academy and the academy race team and their own league for organised competitions. Their drivers even create setups and tutor for Virtual Racing School.
The Sim Centre
Apex’s facility is situated in Corby, in the United Kingdom. Not far down the road is Rockingham, Britain’s only oval circuit which was retired as a racing facility in 2018. Walking in to this outwardly humble building, you would never guess what lay inside.
For avid sim racers, going into Apex’s Sim Centre is like going into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. In their main room, there are six sims, each with a triple monitor setup and an extra one above. They also all have VRS wheels and pedals; everything you would want from a sim rig.
Each rig is built using VRS DrivingForce Pro equipment, including an as of yet unreleased prototype VRS wheel along with the wheelbase and pedals. Therefore it was a unique opportunity for sim racers to try out new equipment that were not on the market. There’s a darker room further towards the back with Ascher Racing wheels in place of the VRS hardware.
The walls are aligned with pictures from many of Apex’s major achievements. There is a picture commemorating Brandon Traino’s three iRacing Indy 500 victories, one of Alejandro Sánchez winning in PESC on the Silverstone circuit, and Peter Berryman’s championship winning Dallara iR-01.
But along with the pictures is a huge shelving unit, which contains dozens of trophies that Apex have earned from various competitions. However, what really captured our eye were the many Apex-liveried 1:18 scale race cars! These were created by George Simmons, a team strategist for Apex who is also currently working with McLaren Shadow whilst the F1 Esports season is ongoing.
But of course, many of the team members were in attendance as they live on site. On the day, Jamie Fluke, Peter Berryman, Yohan Harth, Kevin Ellis, Jr. and also team manager Alex Simpson were all present. We got talking to the drivers about the dynamic of living within the facility together, and making the move there.
Living at the Facility
Fluke and Berryman both came from Northern Ireland, while Ellis came from Scotland and Harth from France. They told us all about how the possibility of the Sim Centre even becoming a reality was a result of the massive peak in interest of sim racing in early 2020 thanks to COVID. In this regard, the effect of the pandemic seems very ironic, as if it had not been for a virus forcing us to stay at home, they would still all be racing from home!
It was fascinating to learn about the process that goes into preparing for an event. Since in sim racing, there’s no limit to the amount of practice that can be done compared to racing on an actual racetrack. Subsequently, we asked them what they do in their down time, and they said they played video games, although none of a racing nature which is very understandable.
They stay at the Sim Centre the majority of the time when it comes to major events, but they will occasionally travel back to their hometowns. Their time at the Sim Centre isn’t just spent on driving, as they have many roles to fulfil across all of Apex’s other ventures.
Overall, the facility was incredible, and there was more! There was also a tournament held on the day open to anyone with access to iRacing, with all competitors racing the Silverstone national circuit in GT4 cars.
The event was broadcast on Apex Racing TV’s YouTube channel and featured short races with a select amount of the drivers progressing through to the next round. The winner would earn some hardware of their choice for their sim racing setup.
We were placed in Heat 2 and qualified a surprising sixth out of eight drivers, our venture didn’t last particularly long. Using the Porsche Cayman GT4, we were involved in a first lap incident that pretty much ended the race. But it was still a blast.
Overall, the event was wonderful and it was great to meet all these drivers in real life. Learning about their process and getting to turn a few laps on iRacing in various cars was very good fun. Huge thank you to Apex for hosting us, and hopefully there’s something that gives us reason to go back very soon!
Also, visit the Apex Racing Sim website if anybody wants to get their hands on some hardware for their sims.
Did you attend the Apex Racing Team Sim Centre open day? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!