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For this week of the iRacing Staff Member highlight series, we put the spotlight on a guy whose words you definitely have read before if this isn’t your first visit to iRacing.com. From site articles, to press releases, and everything and anything between, this guy has a hand in almost every communication we send out. Also, the three fans of the iRacing Downshift will definitely know his voice as well! Here’s more about my boss, Chris Leone.

  • Who are you, and what is your job title at iRacing?

I’m Chris Leone, iRacing Marketing and Communications Manager.

  • How long have you been working at iRacing?

Officially since Spring 2019, but I had a stint writing under David Phillips at inRacingNews while I was in college, covering the Spec Racer Ford and Solstice championships. I’d written an article on Bleacher Report (super cringe for me to re-read something I wrote at age 20, but here you go) calling iRacing the best NASCAR video game of all-time, and that’s how I first got discovered.

  • What got you interested in working for iRacing?

Back in 2017, I was the media director at Red Bull Global Rallycross, and Steve Myers messaged me about getting some credentials for the company to collect some data during our event at Thompson Speedway. I helped Greg Hill and his team collect surface data and reference shots, advocated internally for GRC to sign the licensing deal, and promoted it extensively until our demise the next spring. It was one of my most fun experiences at GRC, and it was a culture I wanted to be a part of—and I guess I made a good enough impression to land the gig!

  • What does your job entail, from daily tasks to larger projects?

While I’ve handed off our pro eSports coverage entirely, I still handle a lot of stories, such as build stories, weekly event call-to-actions, press releases, in-sim content and series copy, iRacing 101, and walkthrough posts for our console games like World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing, to name a few.

I also handle a lot of push marketing, like email newsletters and text alerts. If Kevin Bobbitt needs someone to jump in on anything comms related, I try to be at the ready. When we run pro eSports series in Dirt Road, I’m usually quite involved as well.

On the iRacing Downshift podcast, I’m the third host, with Greg West and Kevin, and I help prepare the run of show. You might also know my voice from our new Driving School videos that Cole Baker and Alex Horn did such an amazing job on. Also, you’ll definitely see my fingerprints on various parts of ExoCross, as I was lucky to be involved in helping shape the backstory.

The latest look of ExoCross!

  • Are there any projects you’ve worked on that stand out above any others? Something you are proud of?

ExoCross! I grew up playing tons of games that Paul Coleman had worked on—namely the DiRT series, which helped inspire my GRC career path—so working with and learning from him has been an amazing, full-circle learning experience.

Paul and Steve Myers let me run wild with some of the storytelling and that’s been a huge honor, but what’s most satisfying to me is that, coming from my experiences in desert racing, ExoCross nails that kind of driving.

You have to read the road, react to what the car is giving you, and despite the short races, be patient! The top-level car is basically a modern AWD Trophy Truck with a boost button. It doesn’t get any more fun to me than that.

  • Are there any future projects that you can’t wait to jump on?

Now that real-world off-road racing is beginning to stabilize, it’s easier to take a look at those Rookie-level Dirt Road car options that GH alluded to in his last Development Update.

Rallycross and short course are very different, and only a handful of cars realistically run both, so I’m applying my real-world experience to advocate for what I think best balances realism and fun for our players.

Chris is a master of wacky combinations. You may see some of his best work during some of the fun series on Week 13!
  • What are some of your favorite car and track combinations on iRacing to participate in?

If you’ve ever seen me promote #Yes2Motorsport, you know that I’m about to give you almost all off-the-wall options. Almost everything we do is remixing different cars and tracks, a concept I borrowed from serving as LCQ League commissioner back in 2020 (thanks Liza and Melissa!).

I think that speaks to our depth of product at iRacing, and the awesome forms of racing that you can invent if you’re willing to get creative.

We’ve created a form of racing we call Endurocross, that is basically an IMSA sprint with our off-road cars and trucks: 100 minutes of multi-class team racing on off-road tracks like Bark River and Crandon.

We also put together a lot of multi-class rallycross events and run all sorts of things on iRacing’s smallest road courses. As for “normal” races: I love an IndyCar on a big speedway and Pro 4s at Crandon.

Just a taste of Chris’s classic game collection.

  • Are there any other video games, racing or not, that you enjoy playing currently?

My Tony Hawk muscle memory has never faded!

I own lots of older consoles: a PlayStation 2, two PlayStation 1s (one for Japanese imports), Nintendo 64, SEGA Dreamcast, Nintendo GameCube, and SEGA Saturn, so a lot of my gaming is retro in nature.

I also fire up Katamari Damacy and Off-Road Challenge quite a bit. For modern stuff, I played Stray earlier this year and really enjoyed that.

  • Outside of iRacing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Curating the future North American Diecast Museum, ha!

I’m a collector of all sorts of other stuff too, from race programs and trading cards to games, CDs, and DVDs. Regularly adding to my home media server is a fun project for me.

My partner Emily and I see The Gaslight Anthem and/or Brian Fallon whenever they’re in town. I have many creative pursuits but little follow-through on them.

Finally, I’m still actively involved in real-world Off-Road and Hillclimb racing, but that stuff’s not hard to track down.

There’s a good chance, if a rare diecast exists, Chris may have it already in his “Diecast Museum” He sent me like five pictures of so many that I didn’t even know existed.

  • What are some of your goals you hope to achieve, either at work or outside of it?

Work-wise? I’m the luckiest person on the planet to have spent the past five years here learning what makes us tick, growing as a person and a professional, and working with the greatest team in the business—and luckier still to have had a second act that tops all the fun I had at GRC.

If I’m learning a little more and getting a little better at something every day, that’s achievement enough for me, and the same goes for who I am away from the desk. If you nail the little things every day, the big ones will build up naturally.

Oh, and I need to actually get to the summit at Pikes Peak this year instead of just hanging out at the start line all week.

  • Anything else we should know about you?

If you’ve ever hung out in Yes2, you’ve heard all my good stories.

If not, here are the hits:

    • I jumped off a rope swing in Barbados with Ken Block once.
    • My LCQ League trophy is the only one not to say “Participant.”
    • Dave Mirra was a close friend and I race with his #40 in Yes2.
    • Finally, judge me all you want, but pet rats rule.
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