Following a dream in motorsports isn’t always easy.
Sometimes, that dream can take you overseas to foreign places. I should know – I’m from Vancouver, Canada and currently living just outside of Milan in Italy. Adapting to a new culture and embracing the local language has been… a struggle to say the least.
So naturally, I can relate to one of Coanda Simsports superstar drivers, Mitchell deJong. Born and raised in San Diego, California, deJong left behind the surf and sunshine to join Team Coanda in Germany in 2014.
“It’s been really cool. You know, being in this facility now, the Coanda Esports Hub, and just over the years of kind of growing up, learning my teammates online and meeting them in person, and working together with everyone as a group is really insane. How it started in one area and now it’s just gotten so big,” said deJong.
“It’s cool to have teammates that you meet online, and you can genuinely call them friends and you work together day in and day out. It’s really a cool thing.”
deJong has made a name for himself in the sim racing world, winning the iRacing Rallycross World Championship Series in 2018. His team, Porsche Esports, came second in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. He even claimed his first win in the 2021 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, while finishing second overall on the season, something he says means the most to him when reflecting on this past year.
“That one, I think, is probably the number one because that’s just so competitive and whatnot. But there’s been so many races. Sharing it with Josh and some of the team races, and other sprint races… we had a really successful year.”
Sitting alongside Coanda’s team manager, Philip Stamm, deJong praised his parents for their support in everything. He also thanked Stamm for being there for him, too.
The history behind the team is quite unique. Coanda was founded in 2014 by a group of like-minded individuals who wanted to create an association-style company from the ground up. Stamm says the team was driven in a “democratic way” to eradicate any one person controlling the decision making.
“That’s what we thought is the best, so that everyone has a voice to speak out. Back in the day, it was more of a hobby and very quickly [it became] something way bigger than we all expected.”
Fast forward to 2022, and Coanda Simsport is the 2021 Autosport Esports Team of the Year. This past season has been a whirlwind of accomplishments, including the 2021 iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona event, where deJong, alongside teammates Josh Rogers and Mack Baukkum, finished in the top three while Keegan Leahy won the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Championship.
Coanda has also been given the keys to Porsche and represents the brand in the Le Mans Virtual Series.
“Porsche is a motorsport brand. Whenever you think of Le Mans, you always think of Porsche. So it was a big honour for us to learn from the experienced people at Porsche, from the engineers, from people that were involved in the real race, in the virtual thing, and it was just a huge honour to represent the brand in that big race,” Stamm smiled.
“I’m really proud that we got chosen by Porsche to do this.”
The Autosport Awards are given to individuals and teams who represent motorsport at one of the highest levels. Coanda began from an idea – friends coming together with a plan to create an environment for dreams to flourish.
Recently, Coanda Simsport unveiled its brand new Esports facility, too.
Every stride this team has made is a huge reflection on the culture they cultivate. Yes, they are driven, competitive racers, yet their core values come from within each individual.
“I think it starts with a strong foundation of the group we have around us,” said deJong. “Really, when you have a strong backing you are able to venture out into these kinds of unknowns.”
The 24-year-old hopes to become the first multi-discipline iRacing world champion and is looking forward to the coming season alongside his Coanda Simsport family. But for now, deJong and Philip are thankful for the Autosport Award, which is an incredible reflection of just how far this team has come since 2014.
“It’s really easy to get lost in the racing. Every week, you’re staying on the grind of preparing for the next thing,” said deJong. “But it’s really cool to have that recognition, for sure. And all the hard work, it really pays off when you can see something like this. So, it’s really exciting.
Congrats to VRS Coanda Simsport for being named the 2021 Autosport Esports Team of the Year. Enjoy the shiny new hardware!