A Nova Scotian has won the eNASCAR championship, taking home $100,000 in winnings.
Halifax's Keegan Leahy has a science degree from Dalhousie University, but works full time as a professional esports driver and coach.
"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a NASCAR driver," he said.
"Growing up, I didn't think that was a possibility. And admittedly I never became a real-life race car driver, but somehow I found myself in the sim world."
Leahy loved video games and NASCAR racing as a kid. He combines the two passions competing in eNASCAR races.
He's earned a spot to compete for the championship four times, and came close to winning it all, but fell short. He was second overall in 2019.
However, during a race on Oct. 12, he took first place about half way through and held the lead all the way to the checkered flag at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
He had three wins and five top-five finishes to win the series championship by five points over Logan Clampitt of California.
"This is a real, NASCAR-sanctioned series. I'm going to get the same championship ring that any NASCAR champion would have," he said.
"It's not hard to hit the throttle and turn the car and keep the car on track. It's very hard at the absolute limit possible."
But that's what it took to win.
Leahy races from home in a custom-built rig. It includes a high-end motor that gives him near real-world feedback from his wheel and pedals.
The only thing missing is the G-force, he said.
The 90-minute race pitted the top 40 drivers against each other for 167 laps.
"It's very tough to get here. It took me a long time before that just to get to this level."
He'll put some of his prize money toward his student debt, but plans to save most of it.
Despite the success in the sim world, Leahy said he drives rather slowly in the physical world and is "not a confident driver."
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