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Local Driver Helps Build Business

Colchester native Conner Martell supporting Vermont Sim Racer
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 12:16 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of businesses to rethink their operations this year, including international racing series and local entertainment venues. This Spring, we introduced you Conner Martell, a Colchester native and driver in Redbull Global Rallycross who has been getting his seat time from a simulator after this season was canceled. Martell has moved his top of the line rig from his garage over to Vermont SportsCar in Milton...but that’s not the only place he’s been able to get behind the wheel lately.

Vermont Sim Racer is the brainchild of Mike Garber, the owner of axe throwing and escape room properties who saw the opportunity to expand his offerings and took it. VSR features four simulators on College Street in Burlington, and Garber says the original idea was just to give people another fun thing to do since COVID has created issues for his other businesses.

“It’s a difficult operation to keep profitable during coronavirus because you know you’re putting people in a small room together for an hour to touch everything," Garber said of his escape room, located in the same building as VSR. "We figured, 'you know, you can clean a steering wheel real easily, you’re able to maintain physical distance when you’re doing the sim racing so it sort of seemed to fit in that way nicely.”

Martell got linked up with Garber via instagram, and his idea is to give people interested in motorsports the chance to get behind the wheel without the level of investment normally required.

“You can get so much seat time without having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars just to drive, and you don’t run the risk of wrecking the car," Martell said. "And a lot of the tracks that they have in the game, we race in real life so it’s very realistic. You can work with the car setups, you can learn a lot just from the game without even being in a real car.”

Both Martell and Garber are hoping that the recreational and more serious opportunities the 4-sim setup presents can catch on with the community. For now, VSR is located on college street, but Garber says the plan is to eventually move the simulators to Burly Axe Throwing in the North end.

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