Pretend Race Cars Shutting Down

Pretend Race Cars

EDIT: The website is officially down, now pulling up a “This blog is private” splash page.

Pretend Race Cars, the “worst site you could possibly visit for Sim Racing news”, will be shutting down December 7th. The website, known for being critical of just about everything, including yours truly, will no longer be able to be accessed after today.

Austin Ogonoski, the founder of the website, posted a status on Twitter, entitled “The End”:


The news has come suddenly, and is quite out of the blue, and this is quite an interesting revelation, bound to possibly arise some suspicions. The question may arise, that possibly the website could have been shut down due to a conflict of interest.

For those of you who don’t know, Austin Ogonoski founded Pretend Race Cars in 2015, and went for a snarky “Tabloid-Esque” angle on the stories. The site ruffled quite a few feathers from multiple companies, including iRacing, Kunos Simulazioni, and most notably, Slightly Mad Studios. After a notably controversial drama-filled saga between Austin and SMS founder Ian Bell, a bombshell announcement dropped that Ian had hired Austin as a consultant for Project CARS 2, and also had sponsored Austin for a full ride in a Late Model race car!

Since then, Austin has had a shift in the focus of how the site worked. Articles seemed to have a little less bite towards Project CARS 2, in favor of preview pieces, showing off the “Transparancy of Development” on the upcoming title. However, any articles criticizing any other title was met with accusations of “conflict of interest”, and saying Austin was under Ian’s thumb.

One portion of the status in particular makes me wonder about what the cause of PRC’s demise is:

“With my current position at SMS, I know a little more about what goes on behind closed doors, both in terms of development, and how the race car game ecosystem works. This includes how other people around the industry feel about things written/showcased PRC.

Obviously, any negative review of another game, no matter how factual or how many others agree with it and report similar findings of their own, comes under intense scrutiny for a multitude of reasons – most notably conflict of interest. And it’s just a massive hassle to continue to argue that “no, your game really isn’t that good, I’m sorry” when these people come knocking.

As Ian Bell suggested, the best approach from here on out is to just kill the blog entirely to prevent these conflicts from arising, and focus 100% on changing the industry from the inside with the tools and connections we have available. 

Essentially, this portion of this status is stating that the website was killed because of the idea of conflict of interest. In this situation, with the evidence, it is easy to see the idea of “Guilty until proved innocent”. However, the “when these people come knocking”, raises an interesting question.

Most notably, one of the main controversial elements of Pretend Race Cars is its relationship with iRacing. Around the beginning of Pretend Race Cars’ run, there were some scathing articles written about iRacing, which led to Austin being banned from the online racing service. This year, another article was written, claiming Austin had came to amicable terms with iRacing, and had received an offer to re-join the service, which he had declined, in favor of receiving a refund.


An interesting development is that before this announcement from Austin, is that he has written another highly critical post regarding iRacing, this time, tackling its newly released RallyCross content. With him writing the post, with a video with the headline “iRacing Rallycross Sucks“, it is interesting to see. One interesting thought I had was that, to “research” for this post, Austin likely had to borrow somebody else’s account (likely the reason Austin censored the standings in the video). That is a violation of iRacing’s rules and Terms of Service.What I am wondering is if there was a line of legality that Austin may have crossed, and that could have possibly landed Slightly Mad Studios in hot water. If iRacing were to possibly seek some sort of action against Austin for violating iRacing rules to write a slanderous article about a competitor to Project CARS 2, maybe Slightly Mad Studios didn’t want to risk a legal battle, that could have potentially painted them in light for a “Conflict of Interest”.

Regardless, the bottom line is that after nearly 3 years, Pretend Race Cars will be laid to rest. What do you think of this news? Let us know!

  • Brownninja97 .

    He talks nonsense to the end. Im very glad its ending, hes doxed so many people, broken so many laws, acted in ways that is honestly disgusting and profitted off it. The amount of lies he spews and amount of half truths he throws out is horrible. Hes tried to blackmail a lot of people before, namely Stefano of Kunos so yes boundarys have been crossed and the wierdest thing of all is I just dont understand why hes even in sim racing, its clear he has no passion for it, he will slam it at every possible chance he got.

    • xmarlboromanx

      He was just toxic and made a lot of enemy’s. He also acted like he is some kind of sim racing god.. lmao fyi if you ever seen him drive he is Slowww..

      • JZStudios

        If by setting top 10 world record times = slow, then yes.

        • James Brumby

          Exactly fucking right! Atleast someone else’s on his side!

          • JZStudios

            He’s the only one to openly talk about how little progression has been made in the genre, even if some of his articles contained misinformation.

        • xmarlboromanx

          Honestly though I never seen his name on leader boards? So he really can’t be that big a deal. From what I’ve seen on his yt he sucks. and he is just a troll. Who hates sim racing with a passion.

          • JZStudios

            What leaderboards? Seriously, other than Forza and the CM titles, what modern racing sim even has leaderboards you have to manually spreadsheet?

    • James Brumby

      Listen to ya’s squeal like pigs on heat, atleast he was honest, and had his own opinion unlike you sheep with your “don’t hurt the developers feelings” attitudes. Austin was probably a far better racer than any of your whingeing women. Go give him a 1 on 1 race, better yet, just blow him, I know y’all want too.

      • Roger Ramjet

        Hi James 😉

      • AgentMacklin

        Honest? Maybe before the sponsorship deal but certainly not after. His Project Cars 2 review, days before release was full of lies.

        He also lied when he said the sponsorship deal wouldn’t change the way titles were covered.

    • Chuck Norris

      When did he doxx anyone?

      • Brownninja97 .

        Several times in 2015 and early 2016, im not gonna say who because those people already got enough unwanted attention.

  • chris schutte

    good riddance; he’s a self serving fraud that anybody with half a brain can recognize as such ..

    • James Brumby


      • Roger Ramjet

        Hi James.

      • chris schutte

        don’t call yourself that, c’mon now . it ain’t that bad sweetheart

  • JZStudios

    Huh. Sucks to see him go. He must be in pretty tight with SMS if the potential “legal battle” warrants him shutting down his blog as opposed to just resigning or something. As far as I know he was just a consultant.

  • James Brumby

    Austin had something very few blog/review personalities have, a real sense for realism. Not only does he play sims he watches countless hours of racing to review against each other, giving his own personalised review between two cases, afterall it’s a fucking “simulation” so he picks the worst qualities and showcases them in hope that the publisher reconciles the problem by working harder in those areas. I agreed with Austin 100% and I’m pissed that these dumb fuckoff studios are out to have him take his site down and play nice for the sake of their reputation. Iracing, for instance makes more money per year than any other sim publisher due to their licence model, you’d think they’d atleast iron out the kinks in the content they have rather than release more half baked money grabbing bullshit. I left IRacing months ago due to poor improvements, shitty tire and suspension physics and stupid ammounts of money being spent every year. PC2 and AC aren’t the best games but atlease you only pay once for a hell of an experience, infact PC2 is far superior in every way to Iracing, tire and suspension physics are better, graphics are better, optimisation is better, community aren’t as snobby and it costs about $60 FOREVER.
    I hope Austin reconsiders and keeps the blog open, for the sake of the “real” sim racing community. Rather than the reviewers and bloggers that suck publisher cock for a reputation toward them.. A little like SRP

    • xmarlboromanx

      Everyone has a price….

  • AgentMacklin

    I enjoyed PRC before Austin sold out.

    Before, I thought coverage was pretty even. Every title recieved the same treatment with Austin, often times pointing out the softwares flaws. Then came the sponsorship and job from SMS and everything changed.

    Project Cars 2 reviews became more shine pieces than an honest review where as other titles were nit picked for the slightest flaw. I remember one article where Austin blasted S397 for continuing to support RF2 well past release and even insinuated abandoning your software in a broken state for a new title was better for the consumer. Hell, I stupidly bought Project Cars 2 at release based on the glowing review PRC did, only to find it a broken mess upon boot up. Austin straight up lied to people when he told everyone the SMS sponsorship deal would not affect how games were covered.

    I miss the old PRC but I can’t say I’ll miss it the way it was in its latest form.

  • Felipe Fritsch

    Too bad. I did read PRC for some time and though I certainly think that after the buyout he was rather biased towards pCars and against everything else, he did give some good criticism on things that deserved to be criticized, even though he could certainly have done so in a more objective and less toxic manner. I do certainly have to agree with some of his points about the sim community being in general rather counterproductive and how the genre hasn’t really modernised or evolved as a whole. We’re doing lots of things exactly like we did them ten years ago, and most people are just so blinded by their fanboyishness that we rarely see any acknowledgment of problems. pCARS, AC, iRacing, RR3, rF2, they all seem to suffer from this.

  • Duane Craig

    While I did not agree with 100% of what he said and some of the things he was saying was pure nonsense he did sometimes make a point. Was the site being around for the few points that were being made really worth it? I think that comes down to the rest of the stuff that you had to read. In short no it wasn’t worth being around, after he signed with slightly mad studios I laughed so much…. I guess he can now join and profit from the things he argued against now.

    At the end of the day he was someone who made a name for himself primarily based on controversy which means eh is going to look for some even if it isn’t there. This in my opinion was the one thing that made his article not worth reading as he allowed this bias to really control the articles that he was writing.

  • disqus_X6HZ9z2q66

    Ian won. Austin was stupid to fall for it…

  • Chuck Norris

    regardless of anyone’s opinion of PRC, there are 2 confirmed things that cannot be denied:

    1- He had experience in the area, regardless of how much his opinion might look like the one from someone trying to make drama
    2- He also had experience with real car racing. At least some. Much more than many sim racers can say.

    Those two things alone always made me look at the website in a strange light. I did not even agree with Austin most of the time but watching so much negativity in the comments from people coming in, finding something to disagree with and hating it was just so odd.