It wasn’t that long ago, a 21-year-old man named Diego Alvarado, was simply playing video games with his friends.
Now the Chino Hills, California native works for one of the most legendary names in NASCAR, Richard Petty.
Alvarado was one of the few people who was drafted in the new NASCAR Heat Pro League, a NASCAR eSports league that sees the best drivers from NASCAR Heat 3 race against each other for real teams.
“A lot of love to Bradley, Brian, Courtney and everyone on Richard Petty Motorsports team,” Alvarado said. “For them to take a chance on me during this inaugural season is huge. I think we’re going to do some really fun things together when I get to Charlotte.
“We’re going to create some really fun pieces and I know we’re going to win a lot of races between my teammate Mike Brass and I. I’m excited to be able to add to that RPM legacy.”
eSports have been becoming more and more popular throughout the years with games like Madden, Fortnite, Call of Duty and now it has found it’s way to NASCAR.
“I think it’s a long time coming,” Alvarado said about eSports making it’s way to NASCAR. “Really for the last decade, eSports as a whole has been blowing up. It’s insane how many people tune into this type of stuff from a global standpoint. F1 started doing their eSports league last year, I’m glad NASCAR has taken notice and they finally doing something with it.
“If it’s executed right, there’s a lot of potential to bring in new partners, sponsors whether it’s just for the eSports or if it transfers over to real life sponsorship. I think it’s something about watching the best at something go at it, really interests them. I’m really honored to be apart of this inaugural season.”
Every athlete dreams of hearing their name called on draft day. Alvarado remained humble by acknowledging that Darrell “Bubba” Wallace took time out of his busy race day obligations to make the announcement.
“I like how Bubba (Darrell Wallace) kept it short and sweet,” Alvarado said about the announcement of being drafted by Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I thought it was pretty funny how we kept it short and sweet, because I’m sure it’s difficult for him on race day to go out and do these extra activities because he’s there to go and do his job.
“I got to talk to him about it in Fontana and he was just cracking up about it. It was a cool experience, definitely once in a lifetime. Not everyone is going to get to do this.”
For Alvarado, this opportunity reminded him much of his childhood in terms of how much time he spent playing NASCAR Heat 3.
“It really brought me back to my childhood,” Alvarado said. “Like I would come home from school and directly firing up the Xbox and hopping on NASCAR ’08 and ’09. I never spent that much time on a video game in so long, just meeting people and having fun doing online races.”
Alvarado was given the chance to race in the heat races for the Xbox class before the draft, opening his eyes to the level of competition he’s up against.
“It took it to another level because you’re there competing against like 49 of the best drivers on NASCAR Heat 3 and those guys are fast. Going to a Superspeedway, I thought it was going to be a little bit of an equalizer but I got my butt kicked at Daytona.
“I messed up the setup and got caught up in an accident near the end. It wasn’t a good first race and didn’t go as well as I hoped but I got better for the next race at Charlotte. It really opened my eyes to how good these guys are and how much time they spend working on their setup’s.”
The first race hasn’t been officially announced but Alvarado is already planning on what he needs to do.
“I’m not nervous yet,” Alvarado said jokingly. “I’m sure that will change the day of the race. I’m trying to prepare myself for every situation possible. I’m working with my Playstation teammate Mike Brass.
“Over the course of the last few days, him and I have just been going over setup’s and he’s been teaching me a lot of stuff. He really knows his stuff setting up the virtual Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. As long as we’re prepared for it, we shouldn’t be thrown off by anything come raceday.”