There are few people more involved in eSports and sim racing than Anthony Alfredo. The 22-year-old NASCAR Cup Series rookie spends his weekends with Front Row Motorsports at the real tracks. During the week, however, Alfredo spends his time streaming on Twitch, managing a team in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, and serving as an advisor for LockDown Racing, a professional iRacing team.
Naturally, when the pandemic forced drivers into their homes, Alfredo became a go-to contact for many in the sport looking to try sim racing.
“With the Pro Invitational Series, a lot of guys had either never been on [iRacing] before, or if they had it was a really long time ago, or maybe they had just tried it as part of a video shoot and they didn’t own a rig,” Alfredo told RACER.
Austin Dillon went and purchased the same racing rig as Alfredo and his Front Row Motorsports teammate Michael McDowell also got involved.
“[McDowell] just bought a rig, and I’ve been sending him a bunch of iRacing setups,” Alfredo said.
“All the time I have people who maybe have never seen [sim racing] before and are asking me about it or they see my [Twitch] live stream… and are always asking what it’s like and how to get into it,” Alfredo explained.
The Twitch channel that Alfredo spoke of, Fast_Pasta, is part of his duties as a content creator for XSET, a professional eSports group that fields teams in everything from first-person shooters to iRacing. That iRacing team is partially the brainchild of Alfredo, who introduced the founders of XSET to the world of sim racing.
“They had no clue what iRacing was. I had known some of the guys who started XSET… so I kind of educated them on it, they loved the idea, they’ve gotten little setups going and are on the service themselves, and love it so much. I’ve been helping teach them about it and helped hire the drivers this year for the [eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series] team. They’re super-excited about the team.
“I’ve been heavily involved in just the program itself and getting them through this first year as a team. It’s been pretty cool to be on the ownership side then I’m also an ambassador or a content creator. It’s a lot of things going on – a lot of moving parts but it’s been a blast for sure,” Alfredo said.
Signing the drivers for the XSET iRacing team turned into quite a stressful expedition, though. There is a four-day window before the season starts where teams and drivers are permitted to communicate and negotiate contracts for the season. There is no formal draft order; instead, teams and drivers are free to speak with whomever, whenever they like within the four-day window.
“Guys get signed up pretty quickly, so it really doesn’t take those whole four days. [After] the first day, half of the guys – maybe they haven’t signed anything, but they have a great offer and they’re leaning towards something and they’re just hearing out other things.
“I’ve had a lot of friends who have been a part of it, and I’ve witnessed it from the sidelines, but I’ve never been involved with it from that standpoint, especially as an owner, it’s pretty stressful. Trying to get the guys you want and making sure you set your team up for success that year, it’s pretty exciting,” Alfredo said.
As if that workload wasn’t enough, Alfredo also helps manage the LockDown Racing program, serving as an advisor for the team’s amateur racers who are looking to earn a spot in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.
All of that has led to a strong relationship between iRacing and Alfredo. iRacing recently sponsored Alfredo’s NASCAR Cup Series car at Martinsville and sponsored him on multiple occasions when he raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“To work with iRacing, it’s kind of like one big group of us. Not only helping grow the sim racing community and do things within that specific industry but to bring it to the real world is such a cool crossover. It’s one that you can’t find anywhere else, that is that applicable.
“The role it’s played in my career and other drivers like William Byron – you don’t see people play Madden and then go play in the NFL. It’s not a video game, it’s a simulation, and that’s the coolest part about it,” Alfredo said.