Terp’s Popular Virtual Racing Channel Drives Him Toward Dream Motorsports Job
Photo courtesy of Oscar Casasola ’24
The notorious blind corners of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park pushed Oscar Casasola ’24 to the limits as he whizzed around the racetrack last September, expertly flicking through the gears behind the wheel of a flashy Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.
Then he powered down his PC and caught an early-morning flight to Toronto, where he guided the $200,000, 414-horsepower supercar on a real-life spin, taking the 71,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, OC Racing, along for the ride. They’re more accustomed to seeing him navigate the digital world of simulated racing, where his on-track exploits and gear reviews have netted 15 million views, a NASCAR internship and backing from companies like 6 Sigma Sim Racing, sponsor of his hot lap.
Casasola’s sim-to-street storyline seems straight out of a movie—see “Gran Turismo,” based on the true story of gamer-turned-driver Jann Mardenborough, slated for a limited release Friday before a strike-delayed wide release on Aug. 25—but the University of Maryland student sees the esport steering him more toward success on the business side of racing.
“One of the main reasons I fell in love with cars and motorsports and NASCAR in particular was when I watched the movie ‘Cars’ with Lightning McQueen” as a young child, he said. “As I ventured into my professional career, looking at my marketing and finance degrees, I really started to think about how I could fit those professional aspects into the motorsports industry.”
That attraction to the action and adrenaline—combined with the high cost of becoming a race car driver—eventually led him to sim racing, which hit the gas during the pandemic when even professional drivers turned to the virtual tracks to replace canceled races. But as Casasola researched to upgrade his gaming gear, he noticed a gap in the product reviews.
“What I came across was just outdated videos of people talking for, like, half an hour long, 50-year-old guys going on about some wheel,” he said. “I was like, ‘I can do a better job than this.’”
He started posting his candid, relatable videos on TikTok, with reviews and racing content interspersed with memes, humor and commentary. As the clips started racking up views, two major sim racing companies, Thrustmaster and Next Level Racing, sent him gear to feature. Things “snowballed from there,” Casasola said, with his YouTube channel launching in 2020, companies emailing him weekly to review their products, and his audience steadily expanding.
“Yes, FINALLY getting to 70K!” one YouTube comment read after he surpassed the subscriber milestone. “You should be 700K at this point. You are the best at editing in this genre by a mile, no doubt.”
Casasola’s experience in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, where’s he’s also working on his master’s in management through the Plus 1 program, has helped him rev up the channel’s growth, he said. Besides his classes, he served as vice president of marketing of the Smith Undergraduate Student Association as a sophomore and junior, working with a committee of five to revamp the organization’s social media, website and newsletters, boost its follower counts and upgrade its logos and branding.
That background came in handy not just for OC Racing, but also with the April launch of SimSpots.com, an affiliate website that earns him commissions for helping gamers find the best equipment deals. In addition, he landed what he calls his “dream job” with NASCAR this summer, working with the gaming and esports department to create graphics, ads and other marketing content to promote the Coca-Cola iRacing Series, NASCAR’s premiere esports league.
Now, as the “Gran Turismo” movie hits theaters, Casasola’s marketing hat is still on. He’s tailoring his content to the film’s audience, planning videos featuring the “Gran Turismo 7” video game and beginner gear for those inspired by the movie to try sim racing.
“(The movie) should be massive for motorsports and for sim racing as a whole, just because it’s still so niche,” he said. “Hopefully people will see how important it is in developing drivers and how these opportunities can come to life.”
Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.
Faculty, staff and students receive the daily Maryland Today e-newsletter. To be added to the subscription list, sign up here:Subscribe