I started PC gaming in 1998 at the ripe old age of 22 through first person shooters. Specifically, it was the original Rainbow Six that ignited that fire. I vividly remember visiting a friend one Sunday at his apartment and watching him play it. I was immediately obsessed. To the point I had to build a gaming PC as soon as possible so I could get in on this myself. Now at the age of 47, not much has changed in that regard. PC gaming has been a part of my life ever since that day and, lord willing, it always will be.
Since that fateful day 25 years ago, my path through PC gaming has taken lots of twists and turns. The first of which was joining Team Allied Rangers in 2000 and competing at a national level in the Battlefield Series of FPS games. Well before "pro-gamers" were a thing, well before YouTube or Twitch, this was the pinnacle of gaming in those days. Team AR competed for many years in Battlefield and later in the original Call of Duty before retiring from serious competition in the early mid 2000's.
We were pretty good. Undefeated all time at LAN events and at one point, during the initial release of Battlefield Vietnam, the #1 ranked team in North America. It was an awesome experience playing games at that level, but it paled in comparison to the lifelong friendships I made and still maintain to this day.
With age comes wisdom and perspective. I wouldn't say I'm no longer competitive. I absolutely am, but one of the lessons I've learned over time from PC gaming is that accomplishments fade quickly from memory. The one thing that has remained for me though are the friends I have made along the way. So, as my journey in gaming has continued from FPS to MMO's to Flight Sims to being a content creator and ultimately now to sim racing. The focus of my time and effort has also shifted to focusing on growing and maintaining a community built around positives. Sportsmanship, respect, and empathy are our cornerstones at Delta Motorsports.
Delta Motorsports originally came to life in 2017 as a gaming community called Delta Squad Gaming. At the time it was a community that was coming together around my work as a Twitch content creator. Even then, and unlike many other Twitch communities, the Delta Squad was never about myself trying to make a living as a creator. Rather, it was about trying to grow a community around positivity. To create a force for good in a seemingly infinite sea of toxicity. I would like to think we succeeded at those goals as a streaming community but the best (and worst) was still yet to come.
Around the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2021 and at a time that saw live streaming at an all-time high, I decided to step away from streaming permanently. Once again, age, wisdom, and perspective had stepped up to the plate and I realized I had lost the fire I once had for it. At the same time though, I was far from done with PC gaming and our community. So, rather than rallying the troops behind my online streaming efforts as I had done in the past I thought, "Why not just start gaming together as a community and leave the streaming out of it?" This was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. At one of the worst times imaginable for not only people's physical but also mental health, we had each other's company, we had purpose again in gaming, and a big ole hammer of positivity to swing at gaming as a whole.
With an old but renewed frame of reference of "gaming for fun" again as the focal point, we hit the ground running jumping into multiple games over the course of the next couple years and bringing our way to doing things to the masses. Through such initiatives as "Horders Without Boarders" which was a cross-server World of Warcraft community raiding initiative we spearheaded to bring people together and give them an opportunity through which they could participate in end-game content with the support of our expertise and without the risk of being ostracized for making mistakes or for their lack of knowledge. If players asked for help to improve their game we helped them. If they just wanted to participate, regardless of ability, we found ways to make it happen. Those experiences will forever be one of the most rewarding of my gaming life. I also learned that empathy, kindness, and an altruistic purpose in gaming was much more rewarding than any personal achievement. We literally changed peoples lives through those efforts. Gamers who had been shunned for their lack of ability or were just looking for a group to belong to found a home with us and because of that I found myself changed as well.
Fast forward to 2022 and I found myself completing a three year project to build a sim pit. I have been a lifelong fan of the Gran Turismo series on the Playstation. For many years I continued to upgrade the console for the sole purpose of playing the latest GT release. With that said, I had only ever played with a controller. I like to think I was pretty good with it, but I had no experience racing in sims with an actual wheel and pedals until now. It took me nearly three years to source all the parts but it was finally ready to be put into action. So, myself and two other members of the community, who also dabbled in sim racing, found ourselves jumping head first into the scene. Our first online race? A six-hour endurance event in ACC at Suzuka driving the Camaro GT4.R (Which we named "Christine"). When I say "first online race". I am being literal here. Up until this point, my "sim racing" experience was limited to simply practice sessions in ACC and verses bots in Gran Turismo. My co-drivers weren't much more experienced themselves with the breadth of their combined online experiences being limited to mostly arcade racers like Wreckfest and Forza. Needless to say it was a learning and bonding experience we will never forget. We finished dead last obviously but we knew that would be the outcome going into the event as we were already aware we were severely outmatched. Our goals were simply 1. Don't kill the car, 2. Finish the race and 3. Don't ruin anyone else's race. Somehow we miraculously succeeded on all fronts.
With the endurance race behind us, the three of us found ourselves asking "What's next?" It occurred to me that there were probably others in our community that would enjoy similar experiences to the one we just had. If they had the right opportunity and the right environment to in which to flourish I knew many of our community members would find enjoyment in it. I began reaching out to a few members of the community that I suspected might be interested and was surprised at the response. Within a few days we had over ten sim racing rookies that were interested in the idea but only if it could be done on our terms. Meaning, no bs, no toxic attitudes, etc. At this point I began reaching out to sim racing community organizers looking for a right fit. What I found was many racing communities had big problems on their hands. Some simply were breeding grounds for toxic behavior and some simply weren't a good fit for many that were completely new to sim racing.
With the available options before me, we decided the best thing we could do was to try and do it ourselves and I started making moves. Less than 30 days later we were hosting our first preseason events and Delta Motorsports League was well on its way.
Almost a year later we've grown from a single weekly ACC series to now hosting three weekly series in three different sims to now expanding to five weekly series in our upcoming Season 2 of 2023.
The community continues to grow as well. What started out as a bunch of rookies are now seasoned rookies (myself included lol). We have aliens, we have sim racing coaches that have joined us. We even have a current real life Porsche GT4 Cup Champion that is racing the Porsche 992 Cup this season. The point of all this isn't so much to brag about how it started and how its going but more so to place emphasis on the tie that binds us. All of those involved in the community are doing so for the sake of the community and because they like the positive laidback culture we propagate. The "fast bois", as I call them, all have their more serious series and leagues they participate in but they are also a core part of our community and what makes it special.
I tell people all the time that if you want competition you can find that anywhere. If you want to race for the enjoyment of competing with people you enjoy spending time with, that isn't as easy to find. I'm extremely proud of the things this community has done and continues to do and I look forward to the future with great excitement.
- J. Dawson #76
Delta Motorsports League