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June 6, 2022

Virtual Spotlight #01 – Mathew Thunhorst

by Ryan Senneker

Mathew Thunhorst is a name well known around the virtual short tracks but especially with the drivers in the Bootleg Racing League. With around 175 wins between official series and league races, the 27-year-old sim racer has earned the respect of the other drivers on the track streaking the #8 machine across the line to take the checkered flag over and over again. Oval racing is what he calls his “bread and butter” but says he’s also fairly skilled at off-road dirt racing as well.

Every driver has a story behind what brought them to sim racing and most revolve around some real-world racing experiences, but with Matt it’s definitely a unique beginning. “Was doing a Spanish project in college and was looking for in-car footage to do voice overs in Spanish”, Matt explained. His search resulted in coming across several iRacing videos which led him to trying the simulator out for himself in 2014. “Ironic how my worst subject led to finding one of my favorite hobbies.”

“Part of the reason I like iRacing so much is because how in depth the oval side is versus what’s out on the market, especially with human competition. When you have a car [or] track figured out and do well it’s like my version of runner’s high.” Running primarily with the Bootleg Racing League, with the occasional Majors Series race, Matt considers Austin Boelke to be his on-track rival with the two drivers often confronting each other at the front of the field while going for the checkered flag in the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series on Saturday nights.

Matt has some experience racing in the real world as well. “I found a decent unrestricted Kart complex nearby so actually getting that seat of the pants feel racing and getting to feel all the grip is rather intoxicating.”, he explained noting that he would get more than a simple racing experience from time to time, “The first unrestricted kart race I ever did the front axle broke under braking into a hairpin. Thankfully the brakes worked well so the impact was only a fender bender level accident, but that was still a heart attack and a half.”

Matt says his greatest accomplishment is getting to the level his is at today, “Just the accomplishment of how good I’ve become over the years. When I started out, I was about a 2.5K to 3k oval driver and to see how much I’ve improved over the years. I wasn’t this good to start out, but all the studying, practice, and trying to prove myself over the years only honed my ability, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t plenty of times I’ve stalled out and [was] left confused on what I’m missing. Being 6k is kind of like that. You know you’re good but compared to the Coke Series guys it’s like MLB being AA or A ball trying to figure out what separates you from the guys in The Show.”

We’d like to thank Mathew Thunhorst for taking the time to speak with us giving us a chance to get to know him a little better and we here at the Virtual Grip Network wish him luck in his sim racing career. His racing talent is out there for everyone to see every Saturday night with the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at 8:55PM ET broadcast live only on the Virtual Grip Network!

Read more from iRacing, News, Ryan Senneker

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