Every story has a beginning, but not all stories have an end. For VRX, the story dates back to the 1960s when founder and CEO, Rob Stanners was just a normal kid with an obsession for Speed Racer – the show, the books, everything to do with it. That obsession would inspire Rob when he created his first avatar. In tribute, he chose Virtual Racer X – or, VRX for short – as his handle.
Rob’s obsession with racing led him to NASCAR, where he connected with David Smith who eventually employed him to work as a fabricator for Professional Components, parent company to Shockwave Seats. Rob was a tinkerer and a dreamer – and while he was learning invaluable skills as a manufacturer his mind returned to racing and gaming.
The VRX Mach One was a simple, yet innovative simulator. Intrigued by rumours of the immersive technology Rob was building, a single order was placed from a buyer in Michigan – the first unit to be custom built and delivered. Compared to today’s simulators it was a primitive module, built with wood and on springs, but it still turned a lot of heads.
The VRX Mach One cemented in Rob what would become a lifelong passion to innovate, design and build experiences that brought users deeper into a race, a flight or a game. Following the VRX Mach One, Rob went into a development phase, tinkering, innovating and expanding the scale and capacity of VRX Simulators.
During this phase, he developed a relationship with Forza Motorsports, who wanted to deliver a true racing experience to fans. VRX’s simulator tech was exactly what they needed and so Rob developed the VRX Mach Three, a simulator that would serve as the backbone of VRX for the next decade. The Mach Three integrated a responsive platform with state of the art graphics and racing software, bringing users deeper into the action. It premiered at CES and generated solid interest in VRX as a company. It was innovative and beyond any other commercially available simulator at the time. It was so advanced, in fact, that Rob had to wait for the software tech to catch up to his design, which it did around 2009.
Perhaps one of the most significant developments in the VRX story is the integration of responsive D-Box actuators. Integrating responsive motion that corresponded to game processes took the simulator tech to the next level and led to the celebrated iMotion Series, the first consumer simulator with actuators.
From this point onward, VRX was positioned as a go-to for just about anyone looking for a consumer simulator. One of the key factors to success and growth was the fact that everything was (and still is) fully customizable. Clients were able to design the exact simulator they wanted and from here VRX experienced roughly 100% growth year after year – people were learning what an immersive experience truly is.
As 2014 rolled into 2015, virtual reality technology kept getting better and the opportunities to develop even more immersive experiences grew. The team grew too, going from a handful of talented individuals to a full team of manufacturers, developers, salespeople and innovators.
In 2016, the dial really cranked up and VRX worked with Forza 6 to launch an experience at E3, bringing VRX to a huge audience hungry for richer, more true-to-life simulations. VRX satisfied this need by integrating VR headsets into simulators, providing a complete 360-degree racing simulation that no other company is able to produce. Through relationships with software companies, manufacturers, designers and drivers the company launched into a different sphere in 2017 – leading to what is no doubt the biggest, most significant development in VRX history.
Jeffrey Earnhardt is one the rising stars of NASCAR and part of the Earnhardt Nation. His grandfather, famed driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., and his uncle Dale Earnhardt Jr., solidified the family name in racing, and Jeffrey is poised to carry it forward. But he was left adrift in late 2017 when his sponsor dropped out. VRX couldn’t let that happen and stepped in as the sponsor for StarCom Jeffrey Earnhardt car that will make its debut at the Daytona 500 on the tragic anniversary of the day he lost his grandfather in a crash.
The alignment of VRX and NASCAR brings Rob Stanners’ boyhood dreams of racing full circle, as the first Canadian sponsored NASCAR team takes to the track. VRX is developing an even more integrated racing experience that will provide racing fans the opportunity to virtually ride shotgun with actual drivers – in real time – elevating the simulator experience and bringing VRX to the next level.
The story of VRX is rich and runs deep, but it’s really just getting going. As technology advances with amazing simulator hardware, and virtual and augmented reality, the possibilities get bigger and more exciting. Rob has not slowed in his imaginative ability to dream up even more exhilarating and enthralling experiences… all now leading toward a VRX World in which the immersion of VRX will meld with the real world to bring you to a new dimension.