'Dream Come True' for iRacing Champ
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on November 22, 2013 | 7:00 A.M. EST
Hudson was recognized on-stage during Ford EcoBoost 400 pre-race festivities where he was presented with a check for $10,000 for winning the championship.
Last weekend, NASCAR crowned three champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but another champion was in attendance - Tyler Hudson, winner of the 2013 iRacing.com World Championship.
A month after claiming his first iRacing title at the virtual Homestead-Miami in the closest points race in series history, Hudson was honored with a trip to the South Florida track to be part of Ford Championship Weekend. There, he had the chance to meet the drivers in the garage area and watch Jimmie Johnson take his sixth Sprint Cup title. Hudson was also recognized on stage during Ford EcoBoost 400 pre-race festivities where he was presented with a check for $10,000 for winning the championship.
"The weekend was awesome," said Hudson, who resides in Brandon, Miss. "It's a dream come true. Running in the series on iRacing.com is what it's all about - to actually get to go to Homestead-Miami and experience it and see all the drivers. As a race fan, that's just really, really cool. I want to thank iRacing.com for making that possible."
Hudson dethroned two-time champion Ray Alfalla with a strong performance in the final races of the season - which included his first win at Chicagoland Speedway - to take the title by nine points.
"The championship was really crazy," Hudson said. "Ray had a pretty significant lead going into the last four races and we pretty much had to win to have a shot at it. So that's what we did. We won a race and finished second the last four races and knocked down a 70-point deficit. For the last race, I was two points behind and I had to pretty much beat the competitor (Alfalla). He tried some strategy and he didn’t have quite the car to do it and we did what we needed to do."
This year marked Hudson’s fourth in the iRacing Series, but it also marked the debut year for the Generation-6 cars to go along with the Sprint Cup Series roll-out. Although he had decent success with the previous car, Hudson felt like the Gen-6 machine fit his driving style.
"With this new car, it allowed me to get up on the wheel and really drive the car better - muscle the car around," Hudson said. "I felt like I couldn’t do that in the COT, I just wasn’t comfortable in the car. We have the new Gen-6 car on there and from what everybody says, it’s pretty close to the real thing."
Being a fan of Ford, Hudson piloted the new Fusion during the 2013 campaign. His No. 01 was decked out with a slick white, yellow and black paint scheme with AdaSignWraps.com as his primary sponsor. Just like in NASCAR, Hudson has a team of people to help him get the car dialed in for the race.
"I spend a lot of time practicing," Hudson said. "It takes a lot to be good. I have a whole team at OneUp Motorsports. There are five or six guys working weekly - almost every night. We spend a little bit of time on there and work on the setups and the chassis. It's so in-depth that we have people look at telemetry only. It's just like the real guys, you have to get your tire pressures right, your springs right and get the front splitter pretty close to the track without hitting it."
For inspiring racecar drivers, iRacing is a good place to start. All it takes is a computer, iRacing membership and a basic setup, which is what Hudson has - Logitech G27 wheel and monitors.
"I have been SIM racing for a long time," Hudson said. "iRacing is an awesome way to race. I don't have the money it takes to race competitively in a real series. It’s a great tool to get online and even if you do race in real life, you can get on there and practice. I wanted to race and I wanted something that was super-realistic and built around for the hard-core SIM racers and luckily iRacing came along."
Hudson's championship tour will next take him to Charlotte, N.C, where he will participate in NASCAR Home Tracks Champion's Week in December that will include an iRacing event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.