At times some wonder where leagues pop up from. Are they formed by just a few drivers racing on a Saturday night? Do they happen from a love of racing and a wanting to see more from the sport? The history of STA has both of these qualities when it looks back to see where it came from and what we see in it's future.
The history of the STA league is not rooted in racing at all. It came about from a mutual friendship of two individuals that were a part of a Call of Duty FPS clan called blacklisted. Mike Zumberge, also known as Truex_56, asked if anyone in the clan had an interest in racing., in particular, NASCAR. Me being the fan that I was, chimed in and we looked at jumping on a racing title. At the time in late 2010, Gran Tursimo 5 had just been released, and we were also looking forward to the release of a NASCAR title for PlayStation 3. Jumping in public lobbies is what we found to be the easiest, but as many will tell you, it was the most frustrating too. Public lobbies, as they are at times today, are still a wreck fest when it comes to discipline and racing etiquette. This is where the the first aspects of STA started to unfold.
We figured if we wanted to race together with a few online friends, we had met along the way, we should make sure that the lobbies we created had the ability to be policed. This is where Gran Turismo came in with the ability to kick individuals, that were unruly, out. A great feature, and it allowed us to have structure with each race. Even though our interest were initially with NASCAR, the Gran Turismo 5 title offered the best options for what we needed. It did not have the full NASCAR experience, but the stability of the format was there. The next big key was to get more to drivers so that we would have at least a good race and have some fun.
We empowered ourselves to go driver hunting through open lobbies, and even other leagues. In doing this we came across a fledgling new league that was starting up at about the same time. This league named NASAR, was founded by Alex Logan and Carlos Acosta. They had put together, as I did, a few drivers together to run a NASCAR styled league. I figured that if we jointed together, each could run races in each other's leagues. On March 15,2011, SeeTheAir.com was registered and our site was starting to be constructed. Now with the release of NASCAR the Game, issues arose with the online gameplay, and weeks went by while we waited for patches to be released to improve the play ability. These complications pushed back the start of each league until the decision was made to go forth with our own plans to start and run on Gran Turismo 5. Our inaugural league series was the Intimidator Cup Series. A mix of NASCAR and GT3 styled super cars. The first race was run at Daytona International Speedway with the Freedom 250. A race title was chosen for a reason. It meant freedom from the ties down to a NASCAR game that never seemed to get it right. Gran Turismo 5 was our home and we embraced it. The very first winner of an STA race goes to David Raymond, known to us as E6Romeo.It was at the same time the 1st generation of the SeeTheAir.com Racing website started. A static site with only a few pages showed a simple standings with scheduled races on either side of the web page. We had this home for less than a year, when we decided to go with a dark theme that offered more pages and a membership forum that helped with communications throughout the league. We grew not only in the visual aspect of the league, but in the size as well. Starting off with mostly US drivers, we added our first additional country, none other than Canada, with the introduction of Mike Marini, known as mjjm1788. Mike brought a new fresh look to the league with a few of his own drivers to form the first Canadian team in True North Racing.
STA would soon finally cross the big pond and find it's first Old World driver with Kasey Hambridge, a very cheeky fellow calling himself coolrunnings1996. Excited to have a more international flare, more and more racing series started to emerge. Gran Turismo gave birth to many divisions within the league including Formula 1, where all competitors drove Ferraris; GT500, which brought forth the first Manufacturer titles; and the birth of what we know now as the ROLEX24, had it's start on GT5. In it's early conceptual days, the ROLEX24 was two separate divisions called the Rolex Prototype series and the Grand Am Road Racing Series. Races were not the 3 hour endurance tests that we run now, but they were all the excitement that we see now with two differently powered race cars on the track at the same time.
Within a few years our numbers in private membership would grow and fluctuate from active and inactive members, but with the structure of our rules and regulations, we kept racing even at times when only 3 to 4 drivers could show up to races. Growing pains are a part of any league, and we've seen a few. Nearing the end of Gran Tursimo 5, it become more apparent that hacking concerns were plaguing the system and it even landed on our doorstep. With the finding of manipulation of devices to gain advantages during races we took action to expel the one responsible and implemented anti-cheating rules and regulations to help govern the league as a whole.
Our new 3rd generation website was up and running, and with the full lit white background we looked again toward the future on building what we started. New additions were added including a twitter account, and new and improved driver profile pages. This was one of our nicest features to give our members. A place where they can show their accomplishments throughout their career at STA. Each driver, when finishing a sanctioned race, would have a personalized driver page to help them keep trophies earned. It was something no other league we found was offering.
With a new title out in Gran Turismo 6, hacking issues became a non-issue for the most part. This new format offered much the same of what GT5 had. It gave us good lobbies to operating out of, and a steady inventory of cars to create various series with, but a new title loomed in the distance that would change the landscape of STA and create a growth in membership we had not seen before. Project Cars was launched and the reception to the league was explosive to say the least. Multiple series were designed through this format including the GT3 Pro series, The Vintage series, The World Series by Renault, and the rebirth of the Indy Car series with two separate divisions. The popular ROLEX24 gained a face lift with Project Cars as well, even to he point of being able to run 3 distinct classes at the same time.
The vision of SeeTheAir.com has always included the possiblility to expand around the World as much as we could. We wanted to offer what we had to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The introduction of two new members would help bring STA to another level, and we can't accredit some of our success without mentioning them. In December of 2014, STA welcomed into it's ranks fasr06 and Sixgunjohnny. These two had known each other and raced with each other for some time and saw what the potential of SeeTheAir.com could be. With a desire to expand into other territories, Sixxgunjohnny ran with our concept of opening up an Australian Tour with current Australian and New Zealand drivers. A focus of time zone oriented races for those in the Australian time zone was a hit, and with the acquisition of Rilos04 as a League Official for the tour this became a reality.
Fasr06's role as a league official was order to the rules. A crucial component to league, fasr06 offered stability and a sound mind to the drivers. He also offered a logical look at structure to a series and to the way the league operates and conducts itself. STA was getting bigger, although it started out slow, the tempo increased, and fasr06 allowed us to keep a level head to things so they would not get out of control. This structure would help us put together, with the tremendous help of League Offical WALLYGATOR-215, STA's first 12-hour endurance race.
With all racing, sponsors play an important part in the growth of the sport. The league was fortunate to have SOUTH-BRONX as a member of the organization. His work with Nautica and AND1 footwear marketing allowed us to place advertisements on our site in exchange for prizes offered to winni g drivers of certain series. This mutual partnership grew with the addition of Nambucca Boatshed & Cafe in the Australian Tour, Licciardi Builders through fasr06, and Pirata Della Strata via Sixxgunjohnny. These partnerships still hold today and we are proud to have them on board.
While drivers had their differences, so did league officials within the background operations of the league. People come and go and that is to be expected with a league of any size. His contributions to the league and as a brief commentator are not forgotten, as STA ventured into Twitch and YouTube, but Sixxgunjohnny and STA parted ways, which led new openings for the league. One of the members that was brought in by him was sickwititHD out of Ohio. SickwitiHD brought about the next evolution of SeeTheAir.com...PC Racing. Several STA drivers had been involved with PC racing for some time. Carl2448, a founding member was already on iRacing as was NearFear and FearNear, both departing consoles after GT6. SickwititHD brought new ideas to the table with what PC has to offer.Formats that did not need a montly subscription that iRacing demanded. We did not want to ask members to pay monthly to compete in what should be free and fun to drive everyday.
He introduced us to RaceRoom as a start, but with constant updates on cars you had to pay for, focus turned to a re-engineered format of rFactor. rFactor2 quickly became a title that we would gain respect and excitement for, as it offered free downloads, mods, a huge community of support and no monthly expenses like its competitors, and it was just as good, if not better than iRacing. A low cost title was just the shot in the arm the league needed to help get PC racing off the ground. On May 19th, The Petit Le GT3 Series debuted on PC for SeeTheair.com. Much of this success is attributed to sickwititHD and the acquisition of Bjorn from Denmark. Bjorn's modding of these vehicles throughout the series, helped make the racing enjoyable and as accurate as they could be.
As PC racing was taking off, the console side of racing with STA continued to roll on with Assetto Corsa and the introduction of Porsche back in our sim racing genre. DiRT Rally gave us the best rally stage racing we had seen in the league, and our last series on Project Cars in the ROLEX24 brought new and old champions back to the top.
SeeTheAir.com Racing League is now a multiple tasking organization, with many levels of communication to get information out to members and potential drivers wanting a secure place to sharpen their skills. We are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We communicate not only through the PlayStation messaging app, but on Discord as well. Our secure membership forum, which hosts 380+ registered drivers offers a place for drivers to communicate as well and to have league information posted so they can view it at anytime. Our main website is seen as the billboard of the entire league. It is our store front and displays the stats and drivers that are a part of World family of drivers through three tours. With a growing league, comes decisions that have to be made. One of the biggest was how to handle new members and updating the website we use. This brought about the 4th generation website we have now. A WordPress based site that still uses html code offered us the ability to add members easily and still have a breadcrumb method to track back to a previous page. We also added the ability to add new series anytime we wanted, because the menu system was easier to update in one file instead of over 100 files imdividualy. Time was saved in the long run. As we continue to update this site, we welcomed back a full time series that hosted the first race to the league...NASCAR!
The Freedom 250 returned once again to bring the league full circle to where it started. A full schedule oval division called the Whisky River NASCAR series will be the first at STA. Raced on rFactor2, this exciting series highlights our commitment to our sponsors, drivers, and to the man that could see the air, Dale Earnhardt Sr. Like Dale Sr., it started out in humble beginnings and has grown Worldwide, and we welcome all that want to be a part of a sim racing family that sees racing as a hobby, a competitive passion, or even our version of "Poker Night".
Chris Weaver, STA League Director