Zoom meetings are sometimes like a trip to Las Vegas.
What happens during those video calls usually stays between the people involved. The conference room in the internet clouds that somehow transports us into the lives of interesting people from all over the globe. Luckily the ‘record’ button exists, and those precious minutes can be preserved and shared with anyone taking the time to read this article.
Kevin Siggy has entered the Waiting Room for the meeting.
After a few tinkers with the video settings, his webcam reveals the Slovenian’s setup: his chair looked extremely comfortable; the black and red fabric a sharp contrast to the lime green headset perched on top of the 23-year-old’s head.
Siggy races for BMW Team Redline. He’s fairly new to the group but has been sim racing for nearly a decade. His teammate, Enzo Bonito, was meant to join the call, too.
A notification pops up: Enzo Bonito has entered the Waiting Room for the meeting.
His phone camera connects. Bonito’s hair is like the mane of a lion. Siggy bursts into laughter. There’s a slight pause, then suddenly, Bonito flashes a smile from ear to ear.
Instantly, I get the vibe that these two are very close friends.
“Kevin’s my little brother,” laughs Bonito.
“The little brother, yeah. We connect with each other pretty well,” adds Siggy.
One week ago today, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual kicked off and viewers from all around the world witnessed an incredible endurance race featuring a star-studded roster of drivers, both from sim and real-world racing.
Team Redline was declared the champion of both categories, with Realteam Hydrogen Redline capitalizing on Max Verstappen’s retirement to take the lead and eventual win.
Jeffrey Rietveld, one of the LMP Realteam Hydrogen drivers, says the experience helped him cross a goal off an important list.
“There were many good parts [of 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual], but I think for me on a personal note, it would have been the qualifying where I grabbed pole by just two-thousandths of a second beating Max. It’s like a Bucket List thing. You just want to beat him once in your life. So, that’s done,” Rietveld smiled.
Over on the GTE side, BMW Team Redline showcased a masterclass of racing. Not only in the simulation circuit, either. The #71 BMW, which featured Bonito and Siggy, also included professional motorsport drivers Rudy Van Buren and Lorenzo Colombo.
During the race, Van Buren’s sim racing setup broke due to an issue with the downshift paddle. To add to the drama, just two laps later, his USB started to disconnect from the PC. It was time for a new strategy.
“We figured either I finish my stints instead of Enzo first, then we swap, and I go to [Van Buren’s] place with my wheel,” Siggy explained. “Or he comes to us. Literally finishes his one stint that he did and comes to my place and finishes in my rig. Which he did.”
Van Buren drove three hours, on a real, paved road to get to Siggy’s house, where thankfully he was able to finish off his remaining stints. To viewers, the BMW looked calm, cool and confident in the sim. But Bonito describes the experience as extremely stressful.
“I was supposed to be resting. It was, I think, four in the morning. I was just finishing my stint at 2 am and I was supposed to wake up at seven for my other two stints. And [Siggy] called me at 4 am. The first thing he says is, ‘Please don’t panic.’ I was like, Okay, we are out of this race. I already know.
“I didn’t get to sleep anymore.”
Without hesitation, Team Redline came up with a solution. And thankfully for Bonito’s stress levels, the #71 BMW kept their lead and ultimately won the GTE category.
When you think of Team Redline, one of the first words that come to mind is domination.
On paper, they have a plethora of champions across multinational teams who ensure they stay at the top of their game. They put in hours of hard work and practice, just like any professional athlete. And they understand every aspect of what it takes to compete at the highest level of endurance racing.
Above all, though, the bond between teammates is unparalleled. Much of the team’s success is a product of how much the drivers admire each other.
For Siggy to offer his home so willingly to Van Buren for the betterment of the team is quite a beautiful sight. Sim racing is thought of as this solo sport of drivers who never really leave the comfort of their own rig. Most teams rely on Zoom calls and Discord chats as their connectivity to each other.
But not Team Redline.
The drivers meet every year at in-person events in which teammates are afforded the opportunity to bond face-to-face. They take part in events and are photographed together. They hug, laugh and joke around. Just like true brothers.
Over the past 20 years, Team Redline has been a sim racing giant. They’ve stacked up accolades in the world’s biggest esport events and their star-studded roster continues to expand.
“If you look at the sheer talent we have on the team, it’s the best of the best in the world,” said Rietveld.
They really are the Michael Jordan of sim racing.
Every Jordan needs his Scottie Pippen, though. Without the supporting cast within Team Redline, the #71 BMW may not have secured the win. When a sim racer so willingly drops everything to be there for a fellow driver, the team becomes much more than just that: they are a family.
“The relationship that we’re building is obviously going to improve the more we meet each other in real life,” Siggy explained.
“I think it’s great to have that connection because, in the end, you’re sharing a car on track. So, you need to take care of the same car.”
Think about a toy car. When we’re kids, we sometimes hesitate to share our Hot Wheels with others. We’re slightly afraid someone might press down on that car a bit too hard, and the wheels will fly off, leaving behind a motionless piece of metal.
Your family is the first people you come to trust in your life. Even your goofy younger brother who, at times, is reckless with his own toys. Somehow, you still share your cars with him because you love him too much to say no.
Team Redline embodies what it means to be there for each other. Drivers don’t hesitate to share their shiny Hot Wheels with their teammates because they truly are one big, happy family.
“We’re just legendary drivers for a legendary team,” Bonito flashed that toothy grin again.
Siggy, for the umpteenth time during our Zoom call, laughed out loud.
“I definitely agree.”
Congrats to Team Redline on the double win! And if you’ve yet to watch the highlights, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered below.