Justin Mifsud is on a mission to connect the world of esports with the physical world of motorsports. As founder and chief executive at World Pro Racing, Justin has already achieved a lot, offering talented players the opportunity to reach their full potential, and even make it into mainstream racing.
Sim racing aside, there is a lot of room for growth for the segment and Justin has been prescient enough to see this. Car manufacturers are already taking esports more seriously and as a gateway to generating new audiences, and even find talented individuals who can be shaped into experienced drivers.
Today we speak with Justin about the similarities between esports racing and real-world motorsports as well as how popular we can expect competitive video gaming to become in the context of motorsports.
Q: Justin, can you tell us a bit more about World Pro Racing, the main objective of the organization and what some of your proudest achievements are?
World Pro Racing was launched in 2018 with the aim to host professional esports racing events worldwide. Our vision is and will remain to provide opportunities to sim racers not just being drivers but anything that involves motorsport.
In fact, the meaning of the word PRO in our brand does not mean that only PROs are allowed in our events but that through our events we bring our community of drivers to a PRO level in various ways such as, being in the same environment as a real motorsport race with our FIA accredited race director and stewards through the local ASN who implements the real world scenario to the virtual one. Make them more fluent at the end of the race in interviews and having an overall package ready to join the real world of motorsport.
Q: Do you think it's correct to talk about esports and motorsports on the fairly same terms? Are the skills acquired as an esports or sim racer transferable to the real world of motorsports?
This is the easiest question for me as it has been asked for many times. From my own experience I switched to a real drift car without practice just from the simulation training. Drivers such as Rudy van Buren, Enzo Bonito, Brandon Leigh are all drivers that switched to the real world from simulation. Whether other agrees or not, 100% yes you can translate what you learn from simulation to the real world. Of course, there’s the fear of death in reality but that will be gained by experience on the real track.
Q: Why do you think racing teams such as McLaren and car manufacturers are starting to invest more heavily into esports?
Sim Racing is the future and the first step to get you into motorsport even before karting now. Thanks to sim racing, since it’s not expensive as the real motorsport, talented sim racers can get known from their performance in the virtual races. There are many talented sim racers that deserve to be in Motorsport but they don’t have the budget or chance to get a seat in a championship and this is where sim racing comes to put them in the spotlight.
Q: When NASCAR races were suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic, viewership remained steady for the SIM races. To what do you attribute this success?
Sim Racing needed this exposure during the pandemic, it’s the only esports that you can translate it to reality, as it involves many things that are same in the real world, such as being mentally fit, physically fit to handle such force feedback especially in long races such as endurance which requires full focus, hydration and overall fitness for such events.
Q: Sports simulators such as FIFA want to see their esports contests watched by millions worldwide. Do you think something similar is likely to happen in the case of SIM races and esports?
This is already happening with events such as the Virtual LeMans on rFactor 2, F1 Esports which had millions of viewership, and we as WPR are currently growing rapidly with viewership not just on the streaming platforms but also with our OTT partners such as ESTV, Motorsport.tv, The Race and our national TV station TVM Sport, totaling of around 1.5 million views per month throughout all our events.
Q: What do you think the future holds for World Pro Racing and esports racing?
Although sim racing is still young compared to CS:GO, League of Legends, Fortnite, it’s growing rapidly and will continue to increase in the next years. As for World Pro Racing we continue with our vision to host high level events, continue growing our community, giving opportunities to sim racers to become PRO not just in racing but also having an overall package as a driver and continue building along our solid partners that supports the growth of our brand.