Podcast Podcast, Season 3, Episode 7: Joshua Rogers on bridging the gap between motor racing and esports

Live from the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023, the Porsche Works Driver gives us a glimpse into the fast-growing world of sim racing.

There are moments when time stands still. Moments where you find yourself on the verge of greatness. Moments that stand the test of time. The Edge is a series of conversations where extraordinary people tell intimate stories of one moment that changed everything for them. A world record, a world championship, an epiphany, a life-changing decision. They relive their moments, minute by minute. How they overcame pressure, fear, pain and pushed themselves to the limit. To The Edge. 

Our guest is Porsche Works Driver Joshua Rogers. Winner of several sim racing titles, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual 2020 and the Porsche Esports Supercup 2021, Joshua has made it to the highest levels of esports. Live from the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans, Joshua talks to us about bridging the gap between real racing and sim racing. He also discusses what it takes to compete, stay hungry, and excel in esports. Presented by your host Teo Van Den Broeke, this is The Edge, a podcast by TAG Heuer.

To listen to the entire podcast, type “The Edge TAG Heuer” into the search bar of your podcast application:

Our aim? To become the source of inspiration you need each month to help you exceed your limits.

Attention: Only have a minute?

Here are a few snippets to put you on the starting line and get the adrenaline pumping. But don’t forget to subscribe to our Podcast so you can listen to the full, unfiltered episode later. The Edge is a series of conversations with extraordinary people operating at the edge of possibility. It’s about the thin line between taking part and tipping into victory; it’s about what gives us our edge and what we can do to go beyond it.

On how the racing community perceives sim racing

Sim racing is much more accepted as an esport. There’s a lot of appreciation for it. It’s different. It takes a slightly different skill set. As a driver, you tend to do a little bit more of the work. You’re essentially a strategist, a driver and an engineer, all in one. There’s plenty of respect for that and lots of the drivers here this weekend also partake in sim racing, whether it’s competitive large events or simply doing it for fun to try and improve their race weekend. And as a result there’s plenty of respect going around for it.

Bridging the gap between real and sim racing

Porsche was one of the initial manufacturers to properly get involved in sim racing. For example, I’m here this weekend, and had Porsche not been involved, I feel like fewer esports drivers would be here. We’re getting to show the general motorsport community sim racing, to give them that hands-on experience, which changes your perspective completely. There are plenty of people who come in skeptical and the moment they get in the seat and start driving…they don’t want to get out! And I feel like that’s the infectious part about that. And that’s a huge factor in how the different disciplines come together.

A higher level of competition

The level of competition is higher in esports and I can confidently say that we have so much more preparation time. We come into a race weekend far more prepared as drivers. And that’s not because real racers don’t prepare, that’s not true at all, they do. It’s just that we have more time to do that and we have more time to perfect all those tiny little things. As a result, it produces a more competitive spectacle. I feel like esports is more competitive. It’s more mentally draining. Physically, absolutely not. But mentally, there really is so much that goes into it.

I’m always going to put 110% into it

From the racing standpoint, lots of people come through karting and maybe they run out of money and they turn to sim racing instead. It’s kind of similar for me, but the passion and the drive is there just from a competitive element. And whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m always going to put 110% into it. And yes, sim racing is no different and I’m thankful for being able to call this my career and my profession.

Joshua’s most memorable moment

It’s difficult, honestly, because there have been a few highlights for me. The first one would probably be winning the inaugural virtual Le Mans race. So that was the 24 Hours of Le Mans, held in June 2020. I believe that was when they canceled the real one because of Covid and they decided to run a virtual one. Everyone came together. That was our first race properly with Porsche and yeah, we managed to win that one, which was awesome.

On working with Porsche

Working with Porsche in esports, it’s helped us from a competitive element. It’s helped us from an organization standpoint, which also helps us in performing as drivers on the day. We can focus on our driving, from a pure sporting element. And also just getting to meet different people and propel sim racing in that way. I feel like it’s been the biggest positive from this collaboration. I’m grateful to be here and very thankful to Porsche for trusting us to give them the success that the brand deserves. And we’re working hard to make that happen.

Maintaining that competitive edge

Keeping the competitive edge, it can be tricky at times, but a lot of it is just continuously working at it, not giving up, looking at things in different ways. You can’t just necessarily just do laps over and over and over again without trying something new, without changing something in your driving just to see if it works or it doesn’t. 

From a mental perspective, I guess that’s probably where it’s harder, when you have condensed seasons and you’re essentially driving 6 hours a day. It puts a lot on your mental strength, which is an area that we can all improve as drivers, me included. It’s probably the most important element out of all of this. Having that not only helps you on race day, but it helps you keep going and it helps you stay competitive and stay hungry. For me, I haven’t necessarily really had an issue yet with losing that competitive drive to win. 

The future of sim racing

My aspirations for sim racing as an esport moving forward is obviously just for it to continue to grow. This year we’ve already had more LAN events than we’ve had in the last three years. LAN events, on-site events, held by an organization and you’re there in person with the other drivers and racing, putting on a show. I’d like to see more of that and it is the direction we’re going. Obviously it’s going to take a little bit of time, but the more people come and get involved and enjoy it, the more likely it is that more people will be willing to watch it. And the more people are interested, the more benefits there will be to run more of them.