Do you ever look back on moments in your life and wonder, what if that had gone differently…would I still be where I am today.
It’s a question I ask myself every so often when reflecting on the big moves I’ve made and, of course, when I chat with other dream chasers in this world, it’s something I like to have them pull apart, too.
Just ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual last January, I interviewed Christopher Högfeldt, the Swedish sim-racing sensation who had won his way into the event after a Le Mans Virtual Series Cup victory in December 2021. At that time, the then 30-year-old was racing for Virtual Drivers by TX3 – the same team he represents currently, with a little twist.
Högfeldt told me it was always his dream to be there.
“To me, it’s always been a special competition.”
Alongside Luca D’Amelio, fellow LMVS Cup winner, Juan Pablo Montoya and his son, Sebastian, the Stockholm native said it was an unforgettable experience.
At the same time of the 24 Hours, Högfeldt was focusing on qualifying for the ADAC GT Masters Esports championship, which he eventually was crowned the champion of in May 2022 after a steward’s review and a one-point defeat over Dörr Esports’ Bence Banki.
“It was a stressful period. I couldn’t focus fully on Le Mans because I really wanted to be in ADAC GT Masters,” Högfeldt admitted. “In the actual Le Mans race is when I finally got my full pace. I just found, like, ‘This works. I’m really quick.’ So, it was almost the same thing as the Virtual Cup. I didn’t expect too much, and then it went really well.
“And I think that’s when R8G also saw the potential in me.”
I thought back on my original interview with Högfeldt and remember him mentioning that he’d like to drive for Romain Grosjean’s R8G team someday. Not even one year later, he’s doing just that.
There’s a quote I like to write in each of my Moleskine notebooks to keep me motivated throughout my own dream-chasing journey: Be so great, they can’t ignore you. Honestly, it’s a phrase that I feel perfectly represents Högfeldt’s grind in esports, as well.
“I’ve always been really quick on the leader boards and two years ago, 2020, that was the first time I actually entered a sim racing competition.
“But then to go to the next step, to the top teams, I guess you really have to show it in the races during the whole season. Consistency in every race and that’s it. No, that’s not it,” he joked. “It’s a hard thing.”
At the time of our most recent chat, Högfeldt was preparing for LMVS Round 1 in Bahrain. Unfortunately, during the race this past weekend the # 18 LMP car retired due to a technical issue. His teammates in the # 8 car finished second, though, keeping R8G’s hopes very much alive.
Looking at how far the now 31-year-old has come since his first drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual to signing with Grosjean’s accrescent team, Högfeldt says the biggest (and most rewarding) change is simply having more support around him.
“Sharing setup and practicing with quick drivers is really important. For me, and probably for most drivers, it really pushes you to just be able to perform during a race. It’s good simulation of a race.”
Outside of the rig, Högfeldt’s dreams have expanded to the real-world. And thanks to his ADAC GT Masters victory, the first prize was to drive for a DTM trophy team in Oschersleben, Germany. The same squad which features both Moritz Löhner and Tim Heinemann – two esports drivers who had won simulator competitions that helped elevate them to where they are, too.
What if the Stockholm sim racer can eventually do the same? Considering how far he’s come in such a short period of time, Högfeldt has all the pieces around him to turn his dreams into a reality. He’s already proven to himself he can do so once before.
“You have to start somewhere,” he said when I asked him what advice he has to others who hope to make it as an esports driver someday. “You need to find what you’re good at and just focus on that.”
The what ifs in life can sometimes drive you crazy.
A lot of variables can derail our paths and pivot us onto an unfamiliar road. As much as we plan for the way we’d like our situation to be, there are defining moments in our lives that bring us to exactly where we’re meant to thrive.
For Christopher Högfeldt, there are plenty of unanswered what ifs. However, in this moment, he plans to hop in his rig and continue pushing for the season ahead.
“I’m just going to dive in.”
Images: Christopher Högfeldt and Le Mans Virtual Series