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Why James Baldwin is crowdfunding his motorsport dream

Participant in the Race of Champions 2019. Winner of the World’s Fastest Gamer competition. Winner of the 2020 British GT race and fourth in the Championship. 2022 24 Hours Spa Driver. Alpine GT4 Test 2023 at Magny-Cours.

James Baldwin now has a substantial resume of real motorsport activities. Unfortunately, while he has shown promise in his on-track appearances, he has not found a deal for this season.

After a promising run at Spa in July, a short game with Garage 59 for the final round of GT World Challenge Europe in 2022 ultimately fizzled out.

Still, things were looking promising for a season of GT3 racing this year.

James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien win at Oulton Park 2020, Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 – JEP, Motorsport Images

“I think the GT World Challenge is the logical next step, but maybe not the Endurance Cup but the Sprint Cup just because you get more track time,” Baldwin tells Traxion.GG.

“As a driver, I find it better for learning and a bit cheaper.

“We had a funding goal from Garage 59 to race the McLaren 720S for this season and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do to raise sponsorship.”

Things were looking promising up until December of last year, and several sponsors are said to be wanting to support Baldwin on this ride.

At the same time, an alternative offer appeared for another solo appearance at the 24 Hours of Spa, which did not require additional sponsorship.

However, motorsport can be a fickle beast.

Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3, 24 Hours of Spa 2022, James BaldwinGarage 59 McLaren 720S GT3, 24 Hours of Spa 2022, James Baldwin

“Unfortunately it’s around February and we really needed the budget to pay the team to get to the tests that will be held in March and then prepare for the first GTWC race,” explains Baldwin.

“None of the sponsors who were interested at the end of 2022 were able to raise the money at the time.”

Faced with an inability to muster the required support for the full-season seat, at least the virtual racing star – Baldwin had an unprecedented 2022 esports season, winning the Alpine Esports Series, GT World Challenge Europe Esports and Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports- Championships plus a round of the Le Mans Virtual Series, the Fanatec GT Pro Series and gold at the FIA ​​Motorsport Games – which the Spa 24 drive could draw on.

“The rider ratings changed over the winter,” says Baldwin.

“So the team that needed me first needed a Silver rider. After the change, they needed a gold. I’m not gold, so I couldn’t take that seat. So that failed too.

“As it stands, I won’t be racing this year.”

But undeterred by the uphill battle over motorsport sponsorships and driver ratings, the Bracknellian is pushing a new idea – crowdfunding.

With over 77,000 YouTube subscribers and 40,000 social media followers, an idea was born when the community heard the news about the lack of motorsport prospects for 2023.

“It was just because I saw comments on some of my videos and some of my social media followers and YouTube subscribers suggesting I try crowdfunding,” Baldwin says.

“My audience isn’t as big as Jimmy Broadbent, but it’s still a lot of people. At this stage, when I won’t be on the grid anyway, I’ll try because there are people who say ‘we want to donate’ and also hopefully they would enjoy watching the content of those races. “

“I just set it up and tried it out. I posted a video on YouTube explaining the situation and I honestly didn’t expect what happened. The response so far has been crazy.”

Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3, 24 Hours of Spa 2022, James Baldwin gofundmeGarage 59 McLaren 720S GT3, 24 Hours of Spa 2022, James Baldwin

The gofundme campaign has an ambitious goal of £200,000, but at the time of writing it’s already close to £10,000.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who viewed it and donated,” says Baldwin

“There are some crazy donations in there and the messages are really supportive too.

“It’s really promising. Hopefully by the end of the year I can do something that furthers my racing ambitions.

“I’m still learning to be a racing driver because I’ve only had one season and one race in motorsport.

“Whatever is ingested is used to further my racing career whether it is a test or a race. If I can get enough to do one round of the GT World Challenge, great, if I can get enough to do a few races, even better.”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports at ESL R1 Round 1, 2023Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports at ESL R1 Round 1, 2023

After testing in GT4 machines, thanks to winning an Esports title last year, Baldwin says he’s not against the category, but the goal is still very much GT3 as it’s seen as the next logical step towards an ultimate goal will, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Aside from the race car ambitions for the year, the 2022 Autosport Esports Driver of the Year will compete full-time in virtual competition for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Esports team, primarily in the new racing-based ESL R1 competition.

But imagine that. A sim racer that makes it to the Circuit de la Sarthe. Baldwin would become a legend. For my part, I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

You can support James’ motorsport activities with a voluntary donation via gofundme.

Images: James Baldwin / Motorsport Images / ESL R1

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