Sage Karam can’t wait to get back into an IndyCar, but he’ll have to settle competing in a virtual one for the next few weeks with two dozen of his competitors.
The IndyCar iRacing Challenge simulation racing series has been organized to offer fans a chance to watch their favorite drivers compete until the suspended IndyCar series resumes in late May, if the coronavirus crisis allows.
Karam already has plenty of experience using the iRacing platform, both for fun and as a training tool. He told Fox News Autos that he’s been giving tips to some of the other drivers ahead of the American Red Cross Grand Prix on Saturday, March 28, which will take place on a digital version of Watkins Glen International speedway. IndyCar donated the naming rights to the American Red Cross to help raise awareness of the pressure on the donated blood supply due to stay-at-home policies across the country.
“Racing, in general, I think is like the only sport that can really do something like this for its fans and simulate something,” Karam said.
The iRacing cars have even been updated with IndyCar’s new Aeroscreen protective windshield, which means this will be the first time the drivers have competed with the device.
But while it looks as close to real racing as you can get, there’s one factor missing: danger.
“The one thing that’s completely different is that you don’t really have a fear of anything,” Karam said.
“There’s really no consequence. You’re not paying money if you destroy your car and you’re also not hurting your body.”
While much of the appeal of the Challenge series is the star power of the IndyCar drivers taking part, there are already several professional iRacing series with dedicated esports drivers that Karam calls “the aliens” because they’re so good at it, and he thinks they would probably beat the IndyCar pros on the sim.
“I qualified for an event to go to Germany with Porsche, and it was the 30 fastest sim racers in the world qualified for it,” Karam recalled. “I was fortunate enough to be one of them. I put in a lot of hours to make that happen. It was not easy. When I got there, these guys just whooped me, were super good, and I think I got like 29th.”
You can watch more of our interview with Sage Karam in the video above.
The inaugural IndyCar iRacing Challenge race will be streamed live on IndyCar.com on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and continue each week until at least May 3.