The Need for Speed: local man relives glory days through iRacing

BASSETT, Va. – "Well I guess as a teenager I was like any other young boy and had interest in car."

That genuine interest, turned into a hobby for Bassett native, Eddie Light. After discovering his knack for modifying cars, Light found himself racing them. In 1996, he finished as the Foster’s Super 8 Champion at Farmington Dragway in North Carolina. Though he went out on top, his competitive spirit was still in high gear. So when Light became aware of iRacing nearly two years ago, he found what he needed to fill his need for speed.

“I’ve always had a passion for racing, competitive, and I love cars,” Light said.

Tucked away in a back room of his home, is a sanctuary of sorts -- a full iRacing rig where he competes as part of the Hammer Down Motorsports Team.

iRacing has become the world leader in the online racing simulation and gaming market, founded in 2004. But Light remembers the company’s humble beginnings as Papyrus Design Group.

“It was gameish. I would call it almost amateurish as far as video quality and things like that.”

But not anymore.

iRacing is more than simply a simulator for amateurs. In fact, many of the NASCAR Cup Series drivers that we’ve seen here at Martinsville Speedway have either used it in the past or are turning to it now since they can’t physically be on the track on Sundays.

“A critical part of my growth as a driver. I feel like it was the only way I could get involved in racing was through iRacing,” said William Byron who did iRacing for years before climbing into an XFINITY series car and now Cup car.

NASCAR announced just this week more of its premier drivers will be racing in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Inviational series, an exhibition series that will showcase drivers from the Cup, XFINITY and Truck Series. We can expect to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kyle Busch and even Virginia native Denny Hamlin.

Though he may have missed out on an opportunity to race at the Cup level, Light is satisfied with getting his racing fix, happy he can still put the pedal to the metal and shift gears into a world where he can still come out on top.