NZ KartSport’s esports success: virtual racing sees huge surge in popularity

KartSport New Zealand’s weekly iKartSport Racing virtual club days have moved to the industry-leading racing broadcaster Simspeed Esports Network, following unprecedented interest and entries.

KartSport New Zealand’s Chocolate Fish Series, originally run by keen karter Travis Smith, has garnered so much success they’ve made the call to upgrade their operation.

The series was initially set up by the national karting body to give members something to do during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was developed in partnership with Giltrap Group and Carter’s Tyre Service.

But record entries and easing lockdown restrictions saw the Dunedin-based sim-racer hand the reins over to the southern hemisphere’s largest sim production company Simspeed Esports Network.

KartSport New Zealand President Graeme Moore said the partnership was “meant to be”

Moore said Simspeed managing director Scott Fountain offered assistance just as Smith signalled he wanted to wind up.

“I think he saw better than any of us new to the whole SIM realm the effect the sheer popularity of our platform was having on Travis and the various volunteers he had roped in to help him,” Moore said.

“The kicker, obviously, was that the company Scott now works for was set up to handle just such issues so it didn’t take long for the two of us to hammer out a deal, which I took to our executive over the weekend and which I am very pleased to say they approved.”

Simspeed is an official iRacing esports network partner. They broadcast Supercars, as well as TCR circuit racing cars, both the Australian and World of Outlaws (US) Sprint Car speedway championships. Now KartSport New Zealand’s weekly iKartSport Racing ‘Virtual Club Days’ has joined Simspeed’s lineup too.

The series secured sponsorship from Marlborough-based irrigation company Liquid Action after the owner, Matt Broughan, saw first-hand the positive effect the iKartSport Sim series had on his son, top Junior karter Arthur Broughan.

And with close to 400 registered members, iKartSport group, set up in April, now ranks as KartSport New Zealand’s largest member club.

Fountain said it’s easy to get a bite of the action if you have a “half-decent” computer.

“A Logitech steering wheel on a desk is how a lot of people start,” he said.

“There are certainly people out there with the $400 steering wheel beating people with a $20,000 simulator.”

But due to the difficulty of simulating the small and lightweight go-karts, Fountain said the events would be raced in either the Mazda MX5 or Formula First vehicles.

“We’re using the closest thing to a go-kart that iRacing has to offer,” he said.

Drivers in the largest top-level iRacing events are regularly competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But Moore said the only reward in the Choccy Fish series was the satisfaction of a race well run and perhaps a chocolate fish if you end up on the podium.

“Racing is typically hard and fast with no quarter asked or given, but plenty of good-natured banter before, during and after each race,” Moore said.


View the racing action on the iKartSport Facebook page.

Imagery supplied

ProducerJosh Swift
Matt Brown
Matt Brown
Kiwi journo Matt “nipple” Brown loves spinning a yarn in a deathmatch server and telling interesting tales. Easily confused, he tends to ask more questions than people are generally comfortable with.

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