OverTake presents our Hero of the Month for December: sim racing livery designer Juan Diego Sánchez.
Image credit: iLiveries
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of the sim racing experience is repping your own custom liveries. With so many cars across all sim racing titles, that personal touch can go a long way. The process that goes in to creating custom liveries is a lengthy and complicated one, and with the sim racing scene becoming increasingly professionalised, many graphic designers have been able to make a living creating skins for virtual cars.
Juan Diego Sánchez is just one of those people who do just that through his company iLiveries. Responsible for many incredible liveries in high level sim racing, his work is very often seen in major esports racing competitions. One of those was VCO ProSIM INFINITY held 9-10 December, a 24 hour event on iRacing where teams of five drivers drove five different types of cars across 24 consecutive races.
On 6 December, the brand new BMW M Hybrid V8 was added to iRacing and VCO decided to use it in the event. Six teams that Sánchez regularly does work for were competing, and they all needed him to put their colours on the BMW. Despite having only four days, Sánchez managed to deliver all six liveries in time for the start of the event.
For achieving this near impossible feat and for the invaluable service he provides the professional sim racing community, we are making him our Hero of the Month for December!
Finding A Passion
Sánchez hails from Spain, a country that hasn’t got a hugely rich car racing culture. The motorsport there predominantly runs on two-wheels. He began getting interested in racing through F1 aged six, but it wasn’t until he was nine that he could follow it more frequently due to the increased broadcast coverage.
His first foray into racing games was Indianapolis 500: The Simulation developed by Papyrus, made up of the same people who would go on to develop iRacing. Other Papyrus-developed titles like IndyCar Racing II and NASCAR Racing would follow as well as TOCA: Touring Car Championship and what Sánchez considers to be a major turning point, Grand Prix 4.
In GP4, the modding capabilities fascinated him. Through the game, he met a bunch of people who were developing mods for the title which were of much higher quality than what was available in the base game.
Sánchez soon became acquainted with the likes of iRacing and rFactor 2 where he began indulging in his love of livery creation. At first it was a hobby, but as the years went on, he found his work to be in demand by both amateur sim racers and professional organisations. It wouldn’t take long for him to begin earning a living from his work.
He claims that the best moment from his time creating liveries was when he was able to make it his primary source of income. No longer having to balance it with his previous main occupation, he is grateful for the many clients he works with. It isn’t always plain sailing though, there have been more than a few instances where the job can be stressful.
We chose Sánchez for this award because of his efforts creating six liveries in four days, but we could just as easily have given him the Hero of the Month title in November 2020. For the first season of the VCO ProSIM Series, 40 teams made up of one real world pro and one esports racer would compete on iRacing in Dallara F3 cars.
VCO decided that instead of letting the drivers compete in the colours of the teams they were signed to, they wanted all the liveries to be unique. Thus, they tasked Sánchez with creating 40 liveries in under a month. This was before he could make livery creating his full time occupation, so he had to balance it with his job.
It was an immensely stressful time for him, but he at least had the freedom to create some crazy designs. Some noteworthy ones were a cupcake livery, a World War II plane and a design based on a snake. He found himself struggling for ideas when he got halfway through, but he managed to get them all finished in time for the opening race.
Then for VCO ProSIM INFINITY, six of the teams he does liveries for on the regular were participating: BS+COMPETITION, Altus, Sabelt, SimRC, Urano and Williams. He had already been working on their liveries for the other cars being used, which were the Dallara IR18 IndyCar, iRacing Formula iR-04, Porsche 911 GT3 R and Honda Civic Type R Touring Car.
Initially, the fifth car was meant to be the Dallara P217 which, like the IndyCar, had been carried over from the first INFINITY event back in May. VCO really wanted to use the BMW M Hybrid V8 but they didn’t know when it would be added to the service, until it was announced to be arriving four days before the event would begin.
They made the call to swap out the Dallara LMP2 for the BMW, and Sánchez got to work getting the liveries made for the teams. He gained access to the livery files on the day of the release and even had time to publicly hand out tips to his fellow livery designers as iRacing‘s files were showing damaged textures, causing issues at the worst time.
Considering the time it takes to make these liveries, Sánchez’s ability to get them all made in time is out of this world. No doubt he breathed a sigh of relief when he was done, having had more sleepless nights than any of the drivers actually competing in the 24 hour event.
Sánchez credits many well known graphic designers serving as inspirations to him, including the likes of Andy Blackmore, Sean Bull, Fabien ‘Enkey’ Tarakci, GaazMaster and Fabian ‘Bezerkdesign’ Weingart. He hopes to follow in their footsteps as many of them have had their work appear on real racing cars. This is his main aspiration for the future.
He is very happy where he is at the moment though, with the clients he gets to work with and his stable income. Also a family man, Sánchez lives with his wife and two daughters, who are six and two years old respectively. Having been an avid sim racer, he knew after his first child was born that he couldn’t keep doing it, especially with the time needed to dedicate to sim racing. He happily gave it up for his paternal duties.
But it doesn’t mean he has no hobbies. His wife got him an electric drum set at Christmas, something he had always wanted to take up, and he’s trying to learn but concedes that it will take some time.
Juan Diego Sánchez is truly an incredibly skilled, dedicated and valued member of the sim racing community. He provides a platform for his fellow livery creators to show how necessary and perhaps undervalued they are to the many who don’t understand the work that goes into it.
It is immensely likely that anyone watching a major esports racing event will see one of Sánchez’s liveries on a competing car. Even for the liveries that aren’t his work, all sim racing liveries serve as a reminder of the very talented people in the field and are the result of the lengthy and meticulous process that prove essential to the further legitimisation of sim racing.
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Are there any personalities in esports racing you would like to nominate for the next edition of Hero of the Month? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!