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New Freedom sprint driver Robbie Kendall tries to turn virtual success into real sponsors

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Robbie Kendall is a sprint car driver based in York County.
  • Kendall has competed in World of Outlaws iRacing events on national TV.
  • Kendall's virtual racing results have created new sponsorship opportunities.

Robbie Kendall isn’t one for self promotion.

The York County driver loves the opportunity to race sprint cars any chance that he can get, whether it be on a track or through a computer screen.

While Kendall may be known to those who frequent central Pennsylvania tracks, the emerging sport of simulated racing has opened up a new lane for Kendall to create new fans and revenue for his real-world team. He is trying to make the most of the opportunity in his own way.

Robbie Kendall drives his virtual 55k sprint car during a World of Outlaws iRacing event earlier this month. The York County driver has created a number of sponsorship opportunities with his success in simulated races.

The New Freedom driver started his first virtual event sponsored by Goofy’s Eatery and Spirits, a restaurant and bar located in Spring Grove. Since then, Kendall’s simulated racing results have presented chances for him to add sponsors when he can get back onto the real track.

“I just try to let my racing do the talking,” Kendall said. “If there is one downfall to me (it’s that) I don’t beg people for money. So, hopefully if everything goes right they give me a chance in real life. That’s all I’m looking for.” 

Earning virtual victories: In the first six rounds of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Invitational, Kendall found himself in the front of the field at one point in each event. He earned his first virtual victory on April 21 at Williams Grove Speedway and earned a $1,000 prize.

The impressive racing interested companies and put some money into a college fund that Kendall has set aside for his young daughter Riley. 

Kendall’s virtual car has been sponsored by sprintcarunlimited.com, Beerhill Gang TV and Fatheadz Eyewear while he competed in races broadcast on DIRTVision and nationally on Fox Sports 1. Kendall would like to add some sponsors to his real-life car, to help his family-owned HKB Motorsports team increase its budget and make it to some more World of Outlaws events outside of Pennsylvania.

Battling big names: One of the races that Kendall plans to attend this season is at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Tuesday, Kendall will be part of the World of Outlaws’ latest iRacing venture, an event broadcast on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. on the virtual Eldora track.

Along with Kendall, a number of names that motorsports fans know will take part in the simulated race. World of Outlaws’ drivers Brad Sweet and David Gravel, NASCAR’s Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, William Byron and racing legend Juan Pablo Montoya are just some of the participants.

Kendall said the first few events on national television were as nerve-wracking as racing his real car. Once the race begins, however, it doesn’t matter to him who is in the next car.

“When you see them guys and you hear these names, some people get nervous, but they’re just another racer,” Kendall said. “Even at the real race track, it’s just another race. They’re out there to have fun and be competitive just like we are. Names don’t really bother me.”

Grateful for opportunity: Kendall originally got into simulated racing in 2017 and joined a pro series that held weekly races and offered $10,000 to the season’s points leader. His set-up, on a flimsy, fold-up table, was so poor he was suspended from the league because of a number of computer failures. He eventually ran out of free time for video games after the birth of his daughter.

Now, with a more sturdy, albeit low-budget virtual racing set-up, Kendall is just grateful that something he started to do without much thought or financial investment could turn trips to virtual victory lane into an increased budget once real racing resumes.

“It’s a blessing,” Kendall said. “I wanted to do it just for fun and maybe make a little money. I wasn’t really looking for any of that, but to maybe boost my name and potentially get some more sponsors, I would just be thankful. It’s a blessing to be where I’m at and hopefully things go in the direction from here.” 

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.