Dream Streams – A Talk with Thunder Crew Sim Racing Team
For passionate simracers, wheter on the SRS platform or everywhere else in the web, the core of the business lies in the community. Joining a racing community does not only mean searching for racing tips, setups, laptimes comparison or troubleshooting, but also sharing racing emotions, or the pleasure itself of chatting with the opponents after a hard fight on the track. However, sometimes joining a community may be somewhat “impersonal”, limited to a couple of messages on a forum, and this often leads to a sort of spontaneous aggregation, which may evolve and grow getting into organized teams, where one can be at the same time racer, friend and supporter. This is what happened to 4Fun team, and undoubtfully also to the German guys of Thunder Crew Sim Racing, whose members Alex Geier, Martin Sorg and Jack Mike Mass provide twice a week amazing streams of their races in the team’s YouTube channel. So it’s a great pleasure to have a chat with them, which will also be a sort of self-reflecting in a mirror, from team to team.
Thanks for accepting our invitation to this conversation, guys! Would you briefly introduce yourselves for the readers?
Alex Geier: First of all, I’d like to thank you on behalf of the Thunder Crew for the opportunity to introduce ourselves to our fellow simracers. It’s a pleasure. My name is Alex, I am 36 years old, I live near Stuttgart/Germany and I am an aerospace engineer.
Martin Sorg: I´m Martin, also 36, and I´m a mechanical engineer designing tools for the automotive industry.
Jack Mike Mass: My name is Jack Mass, I´m an automotive engineer from Poland living in Germany since 2001.
Since when did you get into simracing, and into SRS in particular?
AG: I got into simracing mid-2016. First, I tried Project Cars with an Xbox controller but soon switched to a Logitech G29 wheel and Assetto Corsa. I registered to SRS in November 2016. Since then, I’ve been hooked.
MS: I gifted myself the Fanatec CSW package in late 2018. After dabbling a bit in rally games, I watched a video by Chris Haye about SRS and just had to get into that. I joined SRS in November 2019. I´ve been addicted ever since.
JMM: I have always been into racing games. I´ve been gaming with a wheel since 2005. I got into serious simracing through Alex when we were working in the same company. I joined SRS and the Thunder-Crew-family in November of 2020.
Where do the Thunder Crew project come from? Could you tell us how the team is born, and the main lines of his history?
AG: In 2017, the idea of participating in online races and driving for a team came originally from an old friend and colleague called Dirk, and it was Dirk who founded the “Thunder Crew”. Together with other enthusiasts we organized races on a private server and even live streamed them to YouTube. Then, after a couple of events, it got silent around the Team. Dirk left the company and my son was born. In February 2020, family matters quieted down a little and I rebooted the Thunder Crew. I wanted to let friends participate in my passion by streaming my racing activity on YouTube. Fellow racers from SRS started watching our races. So did Martin. He commented the races in the YouTube chat and in August 2020 I sent him an invite to a training session of my rented server and Discord channel. Since then, he is part of the team. In November 2020, Jack, my old friend and former colleague joined in. Since then, we race together as the current formation of the Thunder Crew.
How do you feel on being part of a team?
AG: It is absolutely amazing to share your passion with likeminded people! We train together before each race, we discuss and change setups, driving techniques or race experiences. That’s what makes it special. Through this, we greatly improved our personal racings skills in the past few months. At the beginning we were fighting for positions at the back end of mid-pack. Today, even wins are in the realm of possibility.
JMM: As part of a team, I´m enjoying the perks like sharing tips and tricks. But I also feel an obligation to represent the team when racing which is always a great motivation. And we have come a long way from “let´s hope we get on server 1” to “maybe we might win this race”!
MS: I really enjoy training and racing with Alex and Jack. Also, I really like racing in the liveries Alex’s brother creates 😉
As for your professional background, you should be setupping monsters! 🙂 Does it help in your simracing activity? And are you passionate in real car racing in general?
AG: Not at all! Maybe it helps me a little bit better to understand the physics of a car, but to set up a car correctly is a totally different story compared to what I am doing every day from 9 till 5. Moreover, I’m interested in watching Formula 1 since Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher were rivals in the mid 90s! I am passionate about the 24 hours of the Nürburgring.
MS: Interestingly enough we usually can’t handle each other’s setups… My approach is lowering the car as much as it´ll take, dial in about 3,2 degrees of negative camber in the front and a little bit less in the back, keep the anti-roll bars on the soft side and lock the differential – also I fiddle a bit with the tire pressures. The rest, I usually leave alone. For me it seems, the setup has to match my driving style. I don’t often watch that much motorsport except VLN and other endurance races on the Nürburgring YouTube channel.
JMM: In real life, I develop body structures of passenger cars – this area isn’t adjustable in simracing at all. For simracing, I should have dealt with development of chassis components to set up camber, toe or suspensions properly. In terms of real car racing, I do prefer vehicles on two wheels more, to be honest. I am a huge fan of Moto GP and Moto 2.
By watching your streams, with live common chat and post-race analysis, it seems evident that you consider races like a sort of “event”, and that you don’t do “fast food racing”, so to speak. Do you agree?
AG: Yes, definitely. There are two reasons why: we generally just focus on one SRS-series and try to live the championship character. And every single race we do stream, we consider it as a highlight. At the beginning of each event, we review the past race and make an outlook on what to look for in this event: Is the track bumpy? How will the tires develop during the race? Where are the possibilities to overtake? How strong are the other drivers? Then – we just race. We really focus on the race and keep talking at a minimum. After the race, we dive into the analysis and talk about our individual highs and lows. We generally try to concentrate on the racing, not on entertainment.
The quality of your streams is very high, even thanks to details like fine tuning of the apps, graphic layouts and so on, and the overall impression watching them is that they require a lot of planning and work. How did you get into that?
AG: It’s just trial and error and gathering inspiration from other channels. All in all, the channel develops simply by itself. Apart from this, you might have noticed our team’s skins. Our cars always share a common theme, but differ in the color scheme of the individual driver. My brother, who also watches our streams regularly, is Senior Art Director in an advertising agency. It’s he who creates the designs for every series. We really appreciate his work and are happy having him support us!
What are your plans for the future? Do you have mid-term or long-term goals with your team activity?
AG: We’ve recognized that our audience is often non-German speaking. It’s our long-term objective to switch our streaming language to English. The variety of people’s nationalities racing on SRS is just mindblowing. And we would really like to cater for all of them.
And – who is the faster? 🙂
AG: Well, this is not an easy question! Usually, it depends on track and car. Mostly, Jack is the king of hotlaps within our group. Martin is our cleanest driver and has the lowest incidents rate. And I have the ability to learn a new track and car combination quite fast. And I can usually turn that into consistent laptimes for twenty minutes 🙂
MS: I’d like to claim that title! Usually the stats tell another story, though.
[After a small break] JMM: Sorry, did someone say something?!
A final note from Thunder Crew:
First and foremost, we would like to thank SRS and the guys behind it for this great platform for us to race on. It is really brilliant to race other enthusiasts from around the world and line up again and again against people who also take simracing seriously. It really turns this “computer game” into a community. Also, we’d like to thank everyone who watches our streams, writes comments and supports us in anyway. This is the biggest motivation and that´s what we appreciate most.
The Thunder Crew team streams, with live commentaries of all the members, every Monday and Thursday at 22.00 GMT:
Thunder Crew YouTube channel: