Sunday, November 27, 2022

Brayton Laster Becomes First Driver to Complete Solo Run in Mooncar 24 Hours of Martinsville

This past weekend, Brayton Laster, a part-time driver in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Truck Series, became the first driver to complete a solo run in the Mooncar 24 Hours of Martinsville, an endurance race put on by iRacing streamer Travis “Moonhead” Brown.

On Saturday, Brayton Laster – a part-time competitor in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Truck Series – accomplished something pretty mind-blowing, as well as something that hasn’t been seen often in the world of sim racing.

Laster spent the majority of his weekend competing in the Mooncar 24 Hours of Martinsville, the third running of the 24-hour endurance event around the half-mile paperclip, to benefit Toys for Tots.

The 20-year-old’s “Pizza Man” Mazda Miata MX-5 was one of the 40 teams lined up on the starting grid for the 2022 edition of the endurance event. While every other team had two or three co-pilots on deck, Laster decided a make a solo run at the victory.

Laster isn’t the first person to make an attempt at driving the entire 24-hour event, but by completing the entire event from start to finish, he became the first person in the history of the 24 Hours of Martinsville to finish the event by themselves.

After the event, Laster told that his expectations pre-race were just to make it to the 12-hour mark of the endurance event. It appears he undersold his capabilities by quite a bit – 12 hours to be exact.

“In the two previous solo attempts in Mooncar 24’s first and second iterations, both solo attempts typically fumbled around the halfway mark,” Laster said. “If I could legitimately make it to the halfway point, 12 hours, I would have been content with myself and this attempt. Anything after that would have just been beyond expectations, and beyond expectations did we go.”

Laster chose to not set a qualifying time prior to the start of the event, noting that he wanted to avoid being in the middle of the pack at the beginning of the race. After starting from 39th, Laster made his way into the top 25 in just a handful of laps.

However, just five minutes into the 24-hour event, Laster experienced his first major setback after an on-track incident. After that, the Indiana native settled into a rhythm, in which he carried himself quietly for the next 11 hours.

Remarkably, Laster was able to complete his first 1,000 laps with only 14 incident points. As a result of multiple accidents setting teams back, Brayton was able to find himself inside the top-20 and in line for a good finish.

Though, the 11th hour is when things got a little mirky for Laster, who was involved in eight separate car-destroying crashes, in a matter of about 40 minutes, taking away any shot for a decent result.

Despite the Mooncar 24 having unlimited quick repairs – which provides a brand-new car for drivers that have totaled their entries in crashes – the incidents still require Laster to be towed to the pits, which cost him multiple laps on multiple occasions.

In the 13th and 14th hours of the event – between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM ET – Laster began to fight drowsiness and even considered throwing in the towel at one point, but eventually decided to continue “for the fun of it”.

After making it through a couple of more hours, Laster decided he was committed to making the long haul, and finishing all 24 hours of the event. Although, the hardest part of the event for Laster? Watching the clock.

“I remember checking [the clock] multiple times, and after what would feel like an eternity, after looking back at the clock I would realize it was only actually a handful of minutes,” Laster said. “Knowing that I’d been out there for so long, but was only a smidge closer to the end goal was really unsatisfying.”

Brayton noted that his music playlist, snacks, and of course a few slices of pizza helped him to tackle the remaining hours of the event. Other than regularly scheduled pit stops, Laster’s only real stoppage came from a 15-minute bathroom break in the second half of the event.

Getting down to the crucial portion of the event, Laster, running in 31st, described the last hour of the event as “a Grinch came by and stole everyone’s driving capabilities, and turned the final leg of the race into a miniature demolition derby,” saying further that “it definitely made the last hour a lot more fun to race apart of than the previous 23 hours.”

Despite coming home in 31st place, Laster completed the event, becoming the first driver in Mooncar history to complete a 24-hour Mooncar event without any co-drivers. Incredibly, over the course of 24 hours, Laster was able to complete 3,273 laps (1,635.5 miles).

“It still hasn’t hit me as far as what I’ve accomplished,” said Brayton. “I just wasn’t able to exactly have the stars line up the way I needed to put it all together over the course of 24 hours. Nonetheless, I am still very happy with the result, to be able to sit there and wheel and deal with some of the best iRacers on the planet for 24 hours straight, is nothing short of impeccable.

If Laster’s efforts weren’t already incredible enough, the Mooncar 24 Hours of Martinsville was able to raise a whopping $4,500 for Toys for Tots this year, bringing the total across the previous three years just under $14,000.

Nexxus eSports was able to bring home the victory in the 2022 Mooncar 24 Hours of Martinsville, becoming the third different winner of the event in three iterations. Though, Moments like this weekend are able to showcase the true power and reach that eSports have when everyone is able to come together and raise money for a good cause.

Presley Sorah
Presley Sorah
Aspiring Race Car Driver / Sim Racer / Writer-

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