Stephen Nasse is one of the top Super Late Model racers in the nation, a status cemented with his wins in the Short Track U.S. Nationals and the Winchester 400 in 2019. He’s also one of the real-world racers entered in the Rowdy Energy Super Select Series powered by Speed51 on iRacing.
However, that real-world success has not yet translated to performance on the virtual race track. While Nasse has enjoyed competing with a star-studded list of Late Model racers, he has failed to qualify for both the eRattler 250and the Festival of Speed.
The adjustment to the virtual Super Late Models has been a difficult challenge for Nasse, but one he has embraced.
“It’s been tough, for sure,” Nasse said. “I’ve always struggled on sim racing stuff. It’s fun with me and my buddies, but when you get some guys that are really serious into it and spend a lot of hours on the game, it makes it tough to compete with them.
“The game has come a long way, even in the last couple of years since I started playing it. I do really enjoy it. It’s just the competition level, heck, I’d say it’s harder than real racing. You have some kids, or some grown men, they spend a lot of time on the game, and I haven’t been able to do that.”
A common hurdle for real-world racers taking the plunge in sim racing is the lack of “feel” in the virtual car. Many drivers rely on their seat-of-the-pants senses in a race car, which does not translate to a chair at a computer desk.
“I’m the type of person where I can feel it all in my butt,” Nasse said. “I can feel when to get on the gas, when to be on the brakes, when to be off the brakes, when to be rolling. In the game, it’s something you have to see.
“You can’t really feel it unless you have a full simulator, and some really good people don’t even have that. Like Ty [Majeski] runs on a little old setup pretty similar to mine. You don’t need that, but it’s whether or not you’re comfortable with that.”
Still, Nasse spoke highly of iRacing, even noting that the people involved with the service were helpful in getting him set up to go racing.
“I think the game is awesome. Everyone at iRacing has been a help to me, getting started back up and everything. It’s just not something I did a lot growing up.”
Getting more involved in iRacing has also provided a nice release from the real world for Nasse. He is staying busy with his family’s construction business during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been knocking out these jobs. It’s honestly helped a little bit, with the virus going around and racing shutting down. Not having to travel on Thursday to make it to a Friday race has made it easier on the company. Me and my guys can stay together and work well that way.
“Right now we’re catching up on jobs that had stacked up. I am a little worried because all of the offices to get permits and all that are closed, so I think we’re filling out what we already had planned to do.”
While the daytime hours are packed with work to be done, evenings have allowed him to cut loose and race with friends on the virtual racetrack.
“Right now, I’ve been so busy It’s unreal. It’s been nice, with iRacing at the end of the day, to relax and cut loose with that. We have fun, just racing each other.”
Still, Nasse is a real-world racer at heart, and hopes to climb back into his Super Late Model this weekend for a testing session.
“I believe I’m testing this Sunday at Showtime Speedway. Just to get some laps in the race car. I don’t think it’ll help us much in the season, because we don’t go to tracks like Showtime. As far as me getting back in the seat and knocking the rust off, I think it is much needed so I’m looking forward to it.”
Fans can watch Nasse compete in the Rowdy Energy Super Select Series powered by Speed51 Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Click here to visit “Rowdy Central” for a full schedule, as well as links to the results and broadcasts.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans