Last week, Anthony Burroughs had his eyes set on preparing for the second round of the eNASCAR Road to Pro Series. The 19-year-old had managed to pass through the first round of qualifying for the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series and was waiting for the second round to begin. Late last week, however, things starting get weird.
Word was starting to spread inside some private Discord servers that Isaac Gann, the driver of the No. 44 Kligerman Sport Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series, might not be able to complete the rest of the 2021 season. As the last man left out of the Road to Pro Series last season, Burroughs was the first reserve driver on the list.
His friends in the Coca-Cola iRacing Series, Ryan Doucette and Jake Matheson, seemed to know more than he did about the situation, though. An odd Discord message here and there left Burroughs wondering what his future was. Keeping one eye on his email and the other on his phone, Burroughs waited.
Soon enough, Brandan McKissic, one of Burrough’s teammates in the Road to Pro Series, delivered the news. The man the sim-racing community had nicknamed “Walter” after a strange internet dog whose name is not actually Walter, would be racing in the highest level of iRacing oval competition.
Walter is in da coke series! Stoked for this opportunity and to be with such an amazing team! Wishing Isaac the best in his recovery. Unfortunate circumstances, but I will do my best to make the team proud and be a good substitute for Isaac! 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/fT4y1AsLSc
— Anthony Burroughs (@aburroughs62) June 22, 2021
“It was definitely stressful but also definitely one of the most exciting times of my life at the same time. This is what I have been working so hard for the last couple of years and I finally reached that goal, so I’ve just been super, super, happy about it,” Burroughs told RACER.
“It’s definitely stressful because of how quick it all happened. I only had a few days really to get prepared for the race on Tuesday. I didn’t feel like I was too prepared for [the race] but nonetheless, I’m super happy about to be with the team,” Burroughs added.
Joining the grid for his first race in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series was a nerve-wracking experience, Burroughs said.
“The nerves are insane — the nerves really kicked in when qualifying started. I’ve never really been with nerves and in qualifying, it kind of showed a little bit that night. That’s something that’ll only get better with time, I think.
“That stuff is intense. I had never really raced around a lot of these guys before so it’s a little intimidating, but I think I did just fine once we got going.”
Burroughs started the race from 27th and finished 31st after being involved in a crash on the race’s second green-white-checkered attempt.
— Kligerman Sport (@KligermanSport) June 23, 2021
Joining the series so late in the season means Burroughs has no chance at reaching the top 20 in points, which means he will have to race his way back into the series during the off-season. For Burroughs, his goal is to rack up some good finishes, but the rest of the season will be a learning experience for the rookie.
“Obviously I would like to go out and get a win but that’s going to take a lot of work, though — this series is super competitive so that would be a very, very, tall task to go out and do that. But really just to learn — I got put into it with such short notice so it’s a whole new learning curve for me. I haven’t really driven the car a whole lot so just learn and do the best I can,” Burroughs said.
Gann, the man Burroughs replaced, was forced to withdraw due to a medical issue.
“While his condition is not critical, his complications have forced him to step out of the driver’s seat for the remainder of the year. Isaac will continue to be involved with Kligerman Sport in an advisory role and continue to help the team grow and succeed,” a statement from the team said.
Kligerman Sport team owner Parker Kligerman commended Gann’s efforts in the first half of the season.
“He did such an awesome job and in the first course of the season he was such a breath of fresh air,” Kligerman said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s methodical, he’s so intelligent and I think it’s a total shame because he loves this and puts so much into it and I know he will continue to add value to the team.
“At the end of the day, health comes first, and without our health, we’ve got nothing.”
Kligerman only got to speak to Burroughs the day of the race due to schedule conflicts with his own real-world racing commitments but he described Burroughs as a good kid and added that he had known of him from the special events that Kligerman’s eRacr.gg company hosts.
At least the transition into Kligerman’s team has been an easy one for Burroughs.
“They’re fantastic — they’re already super accepting of all the Walter memes too,” Burroughs said. “I saw them post a couple of things about it so that’s awesome.”