With the Gran Turismo movie in cinemas, we started wondering. What other sim racing success stories would work in a mainstream film? We came up with a few.
Sim racing is having its moment under the mainstream spotlight. The Gran Turismo movie depicts the unbelievable true story of gamer turned racing driver, Jann Mardenborough. The university dropout had no real life racing experience, but won a competition and earned a dream opportunity.
Depictions of motorsport in media have been on the rise recently, undoubtedly motivated by the success of Rush and Ford v Ferrari/Le Mans 66. There’s an Enzo Ferrari biopic by the director of Heat starring Adam Driver (Kylo Ren from Star Wars) as the title lead, and a Netflix miniseries about Ayrton Senna. Even Brad Pitt is shooting an F1 movie by driving open wheelers at Grand Prix weekends.
So that got us thinking. What other sim racing success stories would work in a mainstream movie? Here are three we think would particularly succeed.
Without doubt, the most prolific sim racer in the mainstream. It’s difficult to comprehend just how this average guy became the face of sim racing on YouTube. But it’s clear why people love him and are inspired by him.
Broadbent has endured severe mental health issues over the years which he’s been open about. In the early part of his YouTube career, he lost his house, his dead-end job at an insurance company and separated from his fiancée, moving back in on his mum’s property in the now iconic shed. Fast forward to today, it’s quite simply the biggest shift in circumstances imaginable.
His YouTube channel began to soar in popularity, and it has resulted in many things happening for him. Jimmer took part in plenty of major sim racing events, got a commentary role in the official Gran Turismo championships, and even became a real world racing driver. If that already wasn’t amazing enough, he won the Praga Cup UK championship in 2022.
There’s no better ambassador for sim racing than Jimmy Broadbent. So a movie about him overcoming his demons and finding solace in driving pretend racecars would be inspiring. As for who could play him, probably the actor who plays Horace Slughorn in the last two Harry Potter movies. Okay maybe not age appropriate, but he is called Jim Broadbent so…
With both Jann Mardenborough and Jimmy Broadbent going from the sim to the track, how about a subversion of that? We all know Jarno Opmeer, the two-time F1 Esports champion has cemented himself as one of the top drivers in esports. But rewind the clock a few years and it was a different story altogether.
Opmeer was going up the junior racing ladder like most aspiring drivers. He won a few karting titles, finished runner-up in his first year racing cars and even joined an F1 junior academy. In that time, he raced many drivers who are now successful paid pros. But Opmeer’s journey was cut short.
Like many real world drivers, Opmeer’s funding dried up and he had to stop racing. Now this is where you’d expect us to say “He took up sim racing, and it got him back into real world racing”. But no! Even after winning two F1 Esports titles, Opmeer has no obvious desire to return to the track, claiming he’s content where he is.
This is a great message for the many people not being where they want to be. That they should find contentment where they are. There is no doubt this subversion of the formula would make for a great movie. Maybe end it with him at an F1 Grand Prix seeing old rivals and competing for the F1 Esports title in a LAN environment, even though in reality, Jarno won both his titles online.
Fraga vs. Hizal
Last but not least, a rivalry that went down in history. In the first two years of the Gran Turismo championships, the Nations Cup was won by Igor Fraga and Mikail Hizal. In one corner, Fraga is a real life racing driver whose presence in the series resulted in Gran Turismo sponsoring his campaigns in the likes of the Toyota Racing Series, FIA F3 and now Super Formula Lights.
On the flip side, Hizal is just a regular Gran Turismo player. That stark contrast makes for an incredible dynamic, especially with what happened between them during their time racing. Fraga struck first blood with an incredible drive in the 2018 Nations Cup Grand Final, but it was 2019 when things got ugly.
During the Nations Cup Grand Final of the New York World Tour, Fraga lifted off up Eau Rouge at Spa and Hizal couldn’t avoid a collision. This prevented him from being able to make a move for the net lead before he had to start saving fuel. Hizal finished over five seconds behind Fraga, which made the five second penalty Fraga was handed rather pointless.
Hizal was understandably furious, although Fraga did apologise later which he accepted. In the end, Hizal got the last laugh when Fraga made an error in the World Finals semi final and didn’t make it to the final. That left Hizal to win all four races and earn the 2019 Nations Cup title.
This perfect contrast between them could make for a movie like 2013’s Rush. Albeit with sim racers instead of F1 drivers.
Which sim racing stories do you think could make for a great movie? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!