Making a name for yourself in sprint car racing is difficult enough.
But doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic was practically impossible, unless you’re Robbie Kendall and you’re winning World of Outlaws races on iRacing.
Sprint car fans around the country were introduced to Kendall in April when racing was suspended because of the pandemic and iRacing was televised nationally.
Kendall, 28, a native of Catonsville, Md., was on top of the iRacing world, winning at virtual Williams Grove Speedway and contending for other victories as well.
“When the dirt series first came out in 2017, I wanted to get it and play because I like video games,” Kendall said. “I got everything you need and played for a year. All I wanted to do was come home and play it. I like racing that much. If I could race every night of the week, I would. My mindset was on racing and that’s what I wanted to do.”
However, life changed for Kendall and he hadn’t done much iRacing until this spring.
“I had a kid and stepped away from it a little bit until the Outlaws announced they were going to do the dirt thing and I wanted to get involved in the races,” said Kendall.
Kendall, who races a 410 sprint car in central Pennsylvania, spent about $1,500 to get set up to compete in the iRacing World of Outlaws events.
“I have a Best Buy gaming computer and I race on a 20-inch monitor,” he said. “That’s all, and I have a G29 steering wheel.”
Due to the pandemic, Kendall had extra time to practice.
“I still worked every day,” he said. “I worked from home for about a month. I’m an outside parts salesman for an International dealership in the state of Maryland. Being a salesman, I couldn’t go in anywhere. They sent us home for about a month, Now, I’m back on the road.”
His practice paid off as Kendall was a contender in nearly all of the iRacing events.
“I got on it the night before for about four hours, just messing around with set-ups and trying to get back acclimated to it, but that was about it,” Kendall noted. “When it was going on, I would get on a couple hours before the race and mess around.”
Has Kendall competed in iRacing since real racing resumed?
“Nope, I haven’t turned it on,” he said.
Real dirt may not have been flying but that didn’t keep the races from being competitive. It also helped fans cope with the pandemic when there was nothing else to do.
“I think it keeps your mind straight,” Kendall said. “Everybody likes competition. It keeps your mind in the game. You’re in a simulation, so you don’t really feel anything. Everybody’s competitive and everybody wants to win.”
iRacing’s popularity exploded as it gained interest from not only sprint car fans and drivers, but with fans of all forms of racing.
Kendall sees iRacing as a positive for sprint car racing.
“I think it was a good thing for us,” he said. “It has led up to the Outlaws being on TV. That’s a positive thing. It opened us up to a different fan base. It let more people see us and see what we do. Even NASCAR fans that didn’t really know what sprint car racing is. There was a variety of people who saw it and want to come out and check it out.”
Kendall had people from all over the country congratulating him on his success.
“That was pretty cool and I got a couple sponsors through it, too,” he said. “Any way I can help somebody out, I’m always down for it. It worked out in our favor I believe.”
Kendall earned $1,000 for his iRacing win at Williams Grove.
“I should have won the first one, but I screwed up. It was a grand to win and nothing for second,” he explained. “I was up front most of the time if I didn’t get in a wreck. I led a bunch of laps at Knoxville and faded at the end. They’ve got it as real as it can get.”
Click below to keep reading.