The Formula SimRacing World Champion sat down with us to talk about his rapid rise to stardom and what lies on the horizon for him now he’s with Alpine Esports.
Image credit: Alpine Esports
Before 2022, very few people had heard of the name Collin Spork. Perhaps he came up on people’s radar when he raced in the first season of rFactor 2 Formula Challenge representing Team Redline, in which he ended up fourth in the final standings. The people who knew though, they were all very aware of his potential.
This year, Spork’s stock has only gone up. On loan from Redline, he joined the NetRex Grand Prix team and also raced for Unicorns of Love. He has competed in the likes of Formula Pro, the VCO Esports Racing League and most prominently the Formula SimRacing World Championship.
Spork was locked in a titanic battle against Red Bull’s Alex Siebel all year, overcoming all that was thrown at him to defeat vastly more experienced competitors in Formula SimRacing, a series so esteemed in sim racing history, it even pre-dates Spork’s birth!
As part of the Unicorns of Love team, Spork won four out of the first five races in dominant fashion. The second half of the season saw Siebel make immense inroads. But, thanks to a win in the final race of the season, Spork won the championship by just three points. He joined the likes of Bono Huis and Jernej Simončič as FSR World Champions in the process.
In Formula Pro, NetRex struggled to move themselves beyond the relegation spots. Spork had many occasions where he showed his promise but for one reason or another, just couldn’t deliver the result. That was until the penultimate round of the season.
He put in a stonking lap on the Monaco GP circuit to put him second on the grid behind Jeffrey Rietveld. He ended up finishing fourth that day, and prevented NetRex from having to compete in the relegation races.
He’s now moved on to Race Clutch, the team that operate Alpine’s esports program. They made it into the ERL Masters at their first time of asking and are also competing in the Le Mans Virtual Series, after three of the five races they sit tenth in the standings. Spork even managed to qualify fourth in the most recent race, the 6 hours of Spa.
Spork’s 2022 has been stellar and his best is yet to come.
OverTake: Where did your love of motorsport come from and how did you start out in esports racing?
I’ve always really enjoyed watching F1. When I was growing up, my parents introduced me to it, and my dad played Gran Turismo and the F1 game back in the day, we had a little Playseat and we’d play using the controller, I was six years old or around that.
Did some karting as well since my dad always went karting. Throughout the years, I started to enjoy it more and then a friend took me to a nearby sim centre where a lot of people drove and have posted competitive times. There I met Bono Huis, he gave me some tips on equipment and I began taking it more seriously.
A few months after that at the start of 2020, I jumped into the Grand Prix Virtual World Championship’s Superleague Lights series and that was my debut in competitive esports racing.
OverTake: Your rise to prominence has been absolutely rapid. What have been the contributing factors to you becoming so successful in such little time?
Dedication, I’d say that’s the biggest thing. Especially now I’ve finished my school, I’ve got more free time since I’m taking a year or two off from education to dedicate purely to sim racing, and now I’m practicing for Le Mans Virtual for about eight hours every day.
But also having the right people around you helping of course. Having a team of knowledgeable people around you will help loads.
OverTake: Being so active in competitive esports racing at such a young age, knowing how often one can drive since you have effectively unlimited practice time, how have you balanced that with education and other responsibilities?
At the beginning when I didn’t take it as seriously, it was just a hobby to do in my spare time after coming out from school. When COVID happened, I was just driving every day. Luckily for me, I was pretty good at school and I never completed a year with many bad marks so I had a lot of time to go sim racing!
Thankfully I was able to put only just enough time into school and get my degree so that’s great. Ultimately if you’re good at something and you enjoy doing it, you find ways of making it work. You’ll never get bored, annoyed or burnt out because it’s effectively a way to unwind, relax and let off steam after a long day at school.
OverTake: You won the Formula SimRacing World Championship in your first full season. How was the season for you and the title battle that ensued?
Let’s just say it was a very interesting season. I had done all but the first three races of last season as a jump in for Edge Esports as they had been struggling. We struggled to always get a good result but we saw the potential, but we did finish P2 at Monaco.
Coming in to this season though, we were going to use the Formula Pro car which I didn’t have a great deal of experience with it compared to a lot of the guys who had been racing in FSR for much longer than me. So I wasn’t going into it expecting a great deal honestly, I just put a lot of hours in once I was sure I would be competing.
But then we got to the first race and saw just how good the car actually was and in the race, we felt unstoppable. We won that race, then went into the second one we struggled a little bit more as the track was an older mod and therefore the surface wasn’t great, so it was difficult to get the car right. But we still got a podium in that race, managed to battle with the Red Bulls.
Then the next few races, we were really on top. We found something in the preparation for those races and we would win races by 20 or 30 seconds. Everything was perfect. Then came the mid-season car update which changed the way you needed to set it up and how to drive it, which Red Bull and Burst really benefitted from and meant they came back and were in front of us.
Just had to give it my all in that time and hope for the best. But fortunately by the last race, we had gotten on top of those issues and came away with the championship. It was a really tense fight, Siebel was an amazing competitor to drive against, he’s very experienced and quick, quite feisty this season as well with everything behind the scenes. As for us, we just kept focused on our goal, didn’t allow ourselves to get caught up on what the others were doing.
OverTake: You have now joined Race Clutch and Alpine Esports. How do you differ the approaches to competitive racing between your current teams and your former teams NetRex and Unicorns of Love?
They’re very different, neither is really better than the other and both ways work. With NetRex it was a more relaxed and community based environment and I’m still good friends with many of the guys there. They did a lot for me and I appreciate them.
Alpine and Race Clutch is very professionalised. The guys driving are putting more hours in, way more than we did at NetRex in Formula SimRacing. Essentially, NetRex didn’t necessarily ask more of you when it comes to racing, they would support you with what you felt like doing and there was very little in the way of obligations. Whereas with Alpine and Race Clutch, it’s treated like work over a hobby, which I don’t mean as a bad thing of course.
Different approaches that both have their benefits.
OverTake: Finally, since you’re achieving so much in such a small amount of time, what are your aspirations for the future?
I’m very open in that category, I don’t have many big plans when it comes to competitions. Ultimately, I just want to compete in as many as I can and try to win every single one of them. I want to develop in the coming years, keep getting better because I think about the last two years, the development I have gone through, I’m pretty interested to see where I am in the next two years. Also sim racing in general, we never know how it’s going to develop.
I’m very happy where I am right now with Race Clutch and Alpine, we have a bright future ahead. We always have hope or aspirations, especially if it’s to do with racing in real life since that’s what you grow up watching and latch on to. Probably not F1 though since that’s way too high a step, but any form of real life racing, I’d love to do.
But of course, at the moment we have our aims for the short term in sim racing. We’ve just finished our first season in ERL and our hope is to be in the World Cup for 2024, then of course Le Mans Virtual is our current focus. After we’re done with that, we can open up our vision and see what the plans are.
To follow Collin’s progress in the Le Mans Virtual Series, tune in to the 24 heures du Mans YouTube channel as well as the World Endurance Championship YouTube channel. The next race is the Sebring 500 miles which takes place on 3 December, and the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual finale will be 14-15 January.
Who are some other aspiring esports racing stars? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!