Jim Ray “The Captain” Sim Racing Icon
January 22, 2022
(Daytona, FL) Jim Ray is in his element. He’s the Team Principal and CEO for Donkey Bop Racing (DBR), fielding four cars and 20 drivers today in the iRacing 2022 24 Hours of Daytona. He’s closely managing and coordinating this fleet of international drivers located all over the world, but converged with one mission during this 24 hours – racing hard, racing fast, racing well for DBR.
Jim drops in on the #003 car race channel: “How you guys doin?” “Everyone feeling good?” “Any damage on that last contact?” “Ok guys keep it up, you’re doin’ fantastic, keep’er clean, and drive the hell out of it!”
He then goes to the other team car racing channels and coaches, mentors, pumps up, and pats drivers on the back. He goes at it like this for 24 straight hours. Except when he’s in a car himself racing as part of one of his teams.
“The Captain,” which is the nickname many drivers have given Jim, leads by example. He is a natural racecar driver. He is well known for jumping in a car and a race without much prep and scoring a win or a podium. Considering he has been running a powerhouse international racing team for nearly two decades, the fact he has an iRacing driver rating of 1900 (it has been as high as 2700) and 69 wins on his palmeres is pretty incredible. 69 wins while managing egos, drivers in every different time zone around the world, and coaching and training new drivers. Incredible.
Jim started sim racing in the late 90’s with RC cars. Then in 2004 he started FSB, a sim racing club and met Milt Minter Jr. and Larry Krupp, both close friends and core members of DBR.
Milt Minter remembers that “We all used to meet at a house where we could network together our computers and race against each other. One day, in comes this younger guy sauntering in carrying a joystick, and we glanced at him, pointed where to hook up, and we thought to ourselves…’pfft….new guy….’ Well, the young guy didn’t say a word. He just proceeded to beat us all….and I mean good. That got my attention quickly. That’s how I met Jim.”
Jim’s goal with FSB was to manage a league the “right way.” To Jim, this meant fair competition and no drama between drivers. The famous Big Bill France of NASCAR fame has nothing on The Captain.
“Looking back, it seems I’ve always led, I felt I could help other drivers and a team achieve their goals, both personal and collective,” said Jim.
Jim and his circle of racing colleagues ran FSB for around 10 years, and then the technical advances presented by iRacing were just too huge to ignore and Jim brought his whole entourage (now also including Danny Falcon, Guy Pitra, Ken Soszka and Jerry Foehrkolb) over to iRacing with him, forming Donkey Bop Racing.
In Donkey Bop, Jim focuses on recruiting drivers who first and foremost are great team members and who have the potential to be very good race drivers.
“I tell all our drivers, just don’t get all crazy, don’t hold grudges, and don’t criticize. Lord knows we’ve all been new and every race car driver makes mistakes. We are in this together guys,” said Jim.
“You can tell everything you need to know about a person,” said Jim, “when you see how they react in a race when things go bad. How do they handle themselves and deal with others? With a lot of teams, they are yelling at each other, arguing, creating drama and rifts. We don’t do that here. We are professional about it with tons of mutual respect toward each other. Even our top star drivers treat the brand-new recruit with ultimate respect and dignity. We have mature drivers who ‘roll with it.’ No matter what.”
Jim designed and uses a real-world style race program log that has been fine-tuned over the year. He saves these logs and he and the other team members can refer to them when they run the same race in the next year. The log is like a pro football play book and is fully and easily adjustable during a race.
To prepare for an iRacing special event, Jim starts organizing a few weeks out. He juggles personalities, experience, ratings, skill sets, and friendships to get just the right mix of drivers in each car. He usually checks in personally on discord or by text with every single driver to ensure they are comfortable.
Why so much effort?
“I always try to picture myself, if I was a driver for DBR getting ready for a race what would I like and appreciate?. It means a lot to me when our drivers have a great time. I feel that happiness and fulfillment on their part.”
I always love helping new drivers,” Jim continued. “The cycle of driver improvement is pretty consistent, but each driver has to be shaped and molded in a way that suits them the best. In fact, one of my most rewarding moments as a team principal over two decades was one helluva race finish in the 2021 12 Hours of Sebring (see this article on our website). It was duel over the last stint between Hal Kemrite, a more experienced, quicker driver, and Chet Barkin, newer to road racing. Hal was chasing Chet down and it came down to the last turn for a top 5 spot. They were going at it so hard, driving their guts out lap after lap. But the cool part for me was as the race wound down, more and more of our drivers jumped over to watch and listen to these two cars’ team channels and everyone were hollering and rooting and shouting…..I loved it. I really did.”
My wife Rachel and my two children support me in everything I do for DBR – it would not be possible without their love and support.
“I like where we are with DBR. We have meet ups at the Long Beach Grand Prix, Sebring, and some of the other big tracks. We are a brotherhood in every sense of the word. We are there for each other, both in and out of iRacing.”
They don’t come any finer than this man.