We catch up with the ever-affable Steve Alvarez Brown to find out his plans to conquer the Nürburgring.
We’ve seen, through the likes of GT Academy and the current Racing Prodigy programme, sim racers starting motorsport careers. Or the likes of Tim Heinemann currently flying the flag for virtual racers in the DTM.
But now we are in the age of content creators jumping from their home cockpits into one belonging to a real-world race car. It just so happens to be that currently two of such crossover drivers are all part of the same project…
Gran Turismo racer Steve Alvarez Brown aka Super GT and sim racing creator Jimmy Broadbent have been competing in a race-modified BMW 3-Series in Germany this season, joined by Nürburgring personality Misha Charoudin.
That’s not news to the combined 2.9 million YouTube subscribers across their respective channels – each has been documenting their Bilstein-backed motorsport aspirations ad infinitum.
The project sets a precedent. Faced with an ever-increasing list of socio-economic hurdles, justification for racing involvement at a corporate level is proving challenging. Sure, Formula 1 is arguably at the peak of its commercial powers, but other series are feeling the squeeze.
But it seems like some businesses have cracked it – what if they could back drivers who are not only rapid but have garnered an engaged following keen to follow their journey?
On paper, it’s a win-win. From a company perspective, they get additional exposure to justify the investment. Meanwhile, avid YouTube viewers receive additional content to consume.
“I think that is fair to say,” reveals Brown to OverTake when asked if he might not be in motorsport without his audience.
“When I first set out on YouTube to make videos, I never really thought about going into real-world racing because of it. But motorsport is driven by sponsorship money, therefore the sponsors want to see that people are looking at their brand.
“Not everyone is going to have the funding available to them, so there are now alternative routes into motorsport. I think we’re seeing more of it recently, that sim racing is one way in, but also content creation.
“Bilstein is good with that, such as at a Nürburgring experience day recently. It is keen to interact with people who have a following and it feels more like a family – as cheesy as that might be to say.”
For us sim racers, there’s something wholesome about seeing someone who spends most of their time racing virtually transferring those skills outside of home. It means that, in theory, given the right opportunities, we too could be successful on the track. That’s what we’re all thinking. Well, I am at least…
Mind you, that would mean being as rapid as Steve, and considering he’s well and truly thumped me at two Gran Turismo Pro-Am events on the trot, the chances are relatively slim.
“Sorry [me and Rory Alexander] didn’t wipe each other out as you would have wished,” quips Brown as I finish third behind the two YouTubers with fellow Brit Will Murdoch at my side.
Clipping an apex, placing a car, defending, attacking – these are all skills refined over countless races on simulators, and in the case of Brown, 12 years on YouTube creating over 2,000 videos. According to the Sport Mode zealot (ranked A+ S, naturally), it’s not the racecraft that’s the main difference:
“In your sim, you can set up everything perfectly for you. There is an element of that in the real world, you do have to be comfortable to a degree, but at the same time, you need to make compromises.
“In terms of your comfort and visibility, sometimes you must live with something that isn’t quite how you’d want it to be quicker as a team.
“Getting used to the things you can’t see too is a challenge. Looking into the right mirror, for example, you can’t see too much [out of it]. The rear view isn’t always clear either.
“But that’s just how it is in racing – dealing with things not being optimised in every possible way.”
After a modicum of testing around an airfield and in a lower-rung event, the trio has competed in further races around the ‘Green Hell’ to round out the year, snagging a class podium along the way.
Clearly, the squad was on a steep learning curve but managed to secure a podium finish during the final race of this season. This is just the beginning, however, with a plan for 2024 already in mind before turning a wheel.
“We are aiming, or trying to trend towards, doing the Nürburgring 24 Hours next year, which would be absolutely incredible,” enthuses Brown.
“This year, we are using a BMW 330i tuned by Black Falcon, so it’s slightly faster than the normal road version.
“Next year, we’re hoping to maybe go into something a little bit quicker,” at which point, jibes about modified Dacia Logans and Formula 1 cars are met with a jovial rebuttal.
“We’re not sure what or if we’re definitely going to do that, but yes, hopefully a quicker car.
“If we can just finish that race, I think that would be amazing.”
Following several seasons of karting and working long shifts within warehouses, Super GT’s motorsport ambitions were paused before the transition to cars via sim racing content creation. It has allowed him to build a loyal following and at last, 2023 was his first full season of tin-top action, following a smattering of assorted drives over the past 12 months.
Not only, then, is Brown upholding the honour of the sim racing fraternity but forging a new path for motorsport sponsorship.
Sure, right now, there are only a handful of YouTubers big enough to pull off such deals. Let’s say the partnership with the German suspension manufacturer is a success though, managing to enter and complete the 24-hour race. That could open the doors to countless more opportunities like this.
Now, if any simulator equipment manufacturers are reading this, I can publish race reports to OverTake, I know that Buttler-Pal-Motorsport is always open to partnership conversations, and I only finished one position behind Steve at the recent Barcelona GT event…
Jokes about my failed driving career aside, there’s a sense that Super GT is humble about the opportunities afforded to him and is determined to make the most of it.
“I’m really happy to be part of it,” beams Brown.
“It’s an amazing team, they are all great guys. I’m racing at the Nürburgring with my mates, it’s just the most amazing thing.”
Have you been following Steve’s racing exploits? Let us know on X, @OverTake_gg, or in the comments below.