Chat with SGP Community Owner, Ryan Hill from Sim Race South Africa

Chat with SGP Community Owner, Ryan Hill from Sim Race South Africa

Howdy all, and welcome to our next  Community Owners chat here with Ryan Hill. Today we are going to be chatting about all things Sim Race South Africa and get to know the people behind the scenes who put all the races together that drivers can take part in on Simracing.GP

D- Sim Race South Africa has been with us since our early days, could you tell us a little bit about your community, and how you found out about Simracing.GP?

R- Hi Dan! Since its establishment in 2012, Sim Race SA has been at the forefront of the sim racing community in South Africa. From our early days organising GTR2 races for just a handful of drivers, to today utilising modern titles across multi-split grids, our mission is simple: to create a welcoming and organised environment where sim racing enthusiasts of all skill levels can come together to enjoy the thrill of competitive racing.

At Sim Race SA, we proudly align ourselves with the ethos of a 'gentlemen's racing' league, placing paramount importance on sportsmanship, fair play, and adherence to a straightforward set of rules. Our commitment to these principles ensures that every race is conducted with integrity and respect among drivers.

In early 2021, I initiated our partnership with SGP as part of my mission to move our race servers from unreliable on-premise setups, to the cloud. This move was primarily prompted by the increased frequency and severity of 'rolling blackouts’, (also known as 'load-shedding'), as well as the need to address unpredictable network routing issues across the country with underperforming network service providers, coupled with the desire to run a web-based automated race management system. SGP emerged as the clear winner during my vendor selection process, and the rest, as they say, is history.

D- I expect that organising racing in the South Africa region, as most regions, can come with challenges and rewarding moments, what have you found to be some key moments in the life of Sim Race South Africa that you are most proud of? 

R- I've focused on streamlining administrative tasks to ensure our processes are not only efficient but also highly reliable. Additionally, I've aimed to make them easy to understand and replicate for new joiners to our leadership team, ensuring redundancy.

Automation and overhead reduction have enabled us to focus our energy on enhancing the overall community experience with ‘nice-to-haves’ including robust member screening, simple sign-up processes, stewarding and engaging live-streams. On a personal level, the extent of these optimizations have been liberating: granting me ample time to actively partake in the races we coordinate!

D- There is no hiding it. With all the amazing achievements, comes some challenges when running a community, can you share with us some of the obstacles you've faced as a Community owner and how you overcame them?

R- As a league, we've encountered our fair share of highs and lows, navigating through various simulators and race formats over the years. While some experiments have proven successful, others have fallen short of expectations. 

Our journey has been marked by periods of remarkable growth, particularly during the Covid-lockdown era, as well as moments of adjustment following the pandemic. We've also witnessed some drivers transition to larger international racing organisations like SimGrid or LFM, drawing attention away from our league.

Despite facing such challenges, we've remained faithful to our origins, nurturing steady growth and cultivating a dedicated community of drivers who exemplify the essence of 'gentlemen's racing' within our league. Additionally, we're thrilled to see a constant stream of passionate young drivers eagerly joining our ranks, and continue to offer them great support.

D- Sim Race South Africa, as we mentioned, has been with us at Simracing.GP for a very long time now, and has been an outstanding input in both the current feature pool and feedback surrounding that, plus imperative in helping us get features and updates ready for the wider community on the platform, If you cast your mind back, what have you enjoyed the most about your time alongside Simracing.GP?

R- The stability offered by the SGP platform right from the outset, coupled with the approachability and friendliness of the SGP team, and their professionalism and respect when interacting with community leaders and drivers, have been instrumental in our experience. Since our inaugural Simracing.GP hosted event in April 2021, I can count on one hand the instances of failed or abandoned races, with most occurring during the recent 'beta testing' phase of AMS2 which is understandable. Despite its initial challenges, AMS2 is swiftly evolving into a polished experience as the kinks are smoothed out. As a software project manager in my professional life, risk reduction is a top priority for me. With SGP, I find the peace of mind of a hassle-free platform, allowing me to focus on what matters most: delivering exceptional racing experiences for our community.

D- Your amazing team that stand alongside you at Sim Race South Africa have really been on the forefront of, at least trialing the variety of titles we have on Simracing.GP, from Assetto Corsa Competizione, to Raceroom and keeping an eye on our developments with Automobilista 2, what would you say is your favorite title to race on the platform and why is that?

R- Each sim has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Personally, RaceRoom has always held a special place in my heart, making it my go-to favourite. Unfortunately, our own community hasn't fully embraced it enough to warrant us hosting regular championships with it. I believe this reluctance can largely be attributed to the aging DirectX 9 engine and its optimization challenges, compounded by the cost factor associated with its free-to-play model, exacerbated by our weak currency. Assetto Corsa has been a standout for its extensive content and customization options, although it's starting to show signs of ageing in comparison to other modern titles, especially in areas like penalty systems, relegating it to more of an 'offline' sim for me in recent months. For me, when it comes to consistently enjoyable and competitive online racing on SGP, Assetto Corsa Competizione still reigns supreme. However, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying exploring AMS2 and eagerly anticipate the rapid improvements being implemented by Reiza Studios, both in terms of platform updates and track/car content expansions.

D- As with when we spoke to Jonny from oNiD, we want to give our experienced community owners the opportunity to offer a piece of advice to those drivers out there who may be looking to start a community on Simracing.GP and start organising their own events, what would be a top tip that you could share with these guys to help them going forward?

R- Focus on consistency in all aspects of your engagement: from how you interact with community members and drivers to the decisions you make, including administrative tasks and transparent stewardship. 

While it's essential to listen to community feedback regarding preferred race formats, it's equally important to discern between genuine consensus and the opinions of a vocal minority. When determining the types of races to host, strike a balance between catering to popular demand and introducing fresh, intriguing content. While the 'build it and they will come' approach can be effective at times, it's also crucial to stay attuned to current trends and popular demands. 

Lastly, don't hesitate to engage with your community members, as well as other community owners through Discord - it's through this dynamic exchange that you'll discover what truly resonates with audiences. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to forge lasting relationships and cultivate new friendships within the community!

D- Thank you so much for joining us today, Ryan. It's been an absolute pleasure getting insights into your community, Sim Race South Africa. We at Simracing.GP want to thank Ryan and his team for the time with us at Simracing.GP and we look forward to working with you far into the future!

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Written by:

Dan Terry

Head of Esports at Simracing.GP