Eight-time ACT Late Model Tour champion Brian Hoar is stepping out of retirement to get back behind the wheel of a race car – in the sim world, that is.
The Vermont native is one of nearly 60 drivers that will compete in Saturday’s Northeast eClassic at the virtual New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, joining a field of real-life racers from PASS, ACT, Oxford Plains Speedway, Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, and White Mountain Motorsports Park.
He joined “The Bullring” on Tuesday afternoon to talk about his foray back into racing via the sim world. With the influx of sim racing offered across all forms and levels of motorsports, Hoar decided he had to join in on the fun, doing so against several familiar names at a track where he has won at in real life.
“Probably seven or eight years ago actually, I had an iRacing membership and I wasn’t very good at it,” said Hoar. “All these years later I’m watching sim racing on TV and I’m getting pretty bored so I’m like, you know what, I want to try this again. That’s pretty much how it started and here I am. I’m probably going to regret this but we’re going to have a little fun trying to not make a fool of myself.”
Hoar stepped out of the sport at the end of the 2015 season to spend more time with his family. His life has been just as busy as it was during his racing days, between business and family matters in the Northeast.
“Life’s been good, I’ve got two daughters that I stepped away from racing to spend time with them. Winters have been crazy busy with both my girls the past few years, one’s been into horseback riding and eventing, and the other one’s into gymnastics. I couldn’t be more proud of what they’re doing and I definitely know I chose the right path to follow them and support them in their endeavors.”
His final race was an emotional moment for Hoar and his team, which saw him go out on top with an ACT win at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park before announcing his retirement in victory lane. He knew it was the right time do step away after checking four major Super Late Model races off his list the year prior – the Snowball Derby, the Winchester 400, the All American 400 and the World Crown 300.
He admits he still misses the sport, but also says he has no regrets stepping away when he did.
“There’s a great part of me that still misses racing. I’m surrounded by lots of pictures in this room I’m in right now and I’ve got that World Series baseball bat up on a shelf right next to me from that particular race.
“Leading up to that was super emotional because it’s been my life, it’s been who I am and what I’ve done and all my friends and family supported me throughout those 26 years going around in circles. It was a lot of fun and it was really hard making that decision.
“I had a toe in the door and then one foot out the door for the prior two or three years when I went part-time for a little bit. I even said in 2014 when I did the Super Late Model races around the country those were bucket list races, knowing I wasn’t going to continue doing this forever, at least at the pace I was. I wanted to take a step back and recognize some other things I wanted to do in life.”
Hoar has spent recent weeks preparing for this weekend’s Northeast eClassic. He told Speed51 he still has a good deal of practicing to do before Saturday’s race after racing with some friends on the iRacing service.
“I realize that iRacing is a talent like anything else. I am a rookie, I’ve been on here with a couple friends that are really good. Andrew Hill was on my old race team and I was with him online last night and I’m qualifying 18th at a short track that I’ve actually raced at, and he goes out and qualifies on the outside front row. This guy’s very talented on iRacing and there’s a lot of people like that.”
While iRacing is similar to real-life racing, Hoar says there is still some adjusting he has to do in the sim world that’s different than physically being in a race car.
“There’s so much realism to it, it’s amazing. When I’m in a race, some of my reactions and whatnot to dodge wrecks and go through certain situations are still instinctual for me still and it’s pretty cool. I’ll tell you what though, when I pull out onto the track here at any one of the these tracks, even ones I’ve been to before, I’m just struggling. I’m trying to get a feel for the car and I’m looking for some of those things I’m used to looking for in a real race car and it’s just different.”
Hoar offered up simple goals for his first big sim racing test on Saturday.
“I’m just going to try not to wreck and try to be competitive is my goal, whatever the hell that means. If I can qualify for the race, number one. Number two, if I can compete and not just be backing up through the field all day, that would be a goal for me.”
Click here to watch a replay of Tuesday’s episode of “The Bullring”.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51