An Extra Life: Kusan’s Twice Around the Clock Solo Journey
By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Another iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona meant another opportunity for Keenan Kusan to raise money for Extra Life and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
The tradition of running the virtual 24 Hours of Daytona solo is one that Kusan took up several years ago. Normally the Team RICK driver has partnered with Ian Plasch for the fundraiser. However, a scheduling conflict kept Plasch from running the full 24-Hour event solo. That put the mission to raise money to aid children squarely on the shoulders of Kusan and newcomer Ryan Burton.
“Normally Ian is our anchor out of the two of us,” Kusan admitted. “The fastest driver and usually going for the lap record and all I have to do is drive the car around and look pretty. This year, since he had some real-life obligations, I had to take that torch.
“He did pop in and run about 100 laps throughout the race, but I would be lying if I said even through all of this year’s accomplishments it was a little bittersweet not having him right alongside me. That’s not to take anything away from Ryan, though. He still put in a big effort considering he’s never even stayed awake for 24hrs before let alone raced it solo.”
Without having the ‘rabbit’ in Plasch to chase, and Burton having to rest in his first solo attempt, Kusan was left on his own in his iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona split. Although alone on track, the feeling of loneliness didn’t last long. Friends chimed in on a group call to keep the Canadian company. Kusan’s Twitch chat also gave him plenty of banter.
“We had Taylor Mills, one of my mods and friend of mine, and Cisco Scaramuzza, who’s also a personal friend and iRacing employee, pop into our group call and keep me company,” Kusan recalled. “As always, I had my Twitch chat to make banter with and have chats throughout the race. I don’t blame Ryan for taking a nap. It is a completely reasonable thing to do but it did get a bit quiet before he came back, and I was glad to see him.”
As Kusan and Plasch have done in recent years, the fundraising goal was eclipsed in the final hours. The Canadian on his own had a goal of $2,000. Ultimately, Kusan, along with the aid of Burton, Plasch, and the iRacing community, raised about $3,000 for Extra Life and CHEO. The outreach and generosity still amaze Kusan today.
“I always set our goal to just be what I perceive to be a little out of reach,” Kusan explained. “With no Ian this year I had the bulk of the fundraising to do but we still crossed the $3,000 USD mark. A lot of donations came in from stream regulars. But as always, the sim-racing community came in strong and supported us in a huge way. I should be used to this, but I’m always touched to see a bunch of people I’ve never spoken to open their wallets for a good cause.”
While the primary goal was the charitable fundraising, a secondary goal was also out there for Kusan to chase. With the aid of his competitors on track, and the race leader letting the Canadian regain a lap, Kusan broke the solo lap record in the iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona. Entering 2022, the record was 868 laps, set in the 2021 running. Kusan started his 869th lap as the white flag waved.
Competitors on track that had both good and bad experiences racing with Kusan over the 24 Hours cheered him on, checking in on him. His Twitch chat exploded, both for the lap record, and a jump in fundraising dollars.
The camaraderie and generosity of competitors and supporters like ultimately made the 2022 iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona a wholesome event that Kusan will never forget.
“As for a singular moment, probably the end,” Kusan stated. “A bunch of people in the split were checking up on me. The leader of the race let me pass to get my lap back. (That) ensured the record wouldn’t be a tie. On top of that, seeing my chat basically spammed the last two laps and seeing all that support made me tear up a little.
“Hitting the fundraising goal, which I genuinely didn’t think we were going to do, was also a huge moment. As well as messages from fellow drivers throughout the race with encouragement. Even teams I’d taken out, got into a kerfuffle with accepted my apology and told me to keep going. This was a very, very wholesome 24.”
In addition to Burton and Kusan, Dylan Connolly also took on the 24-hour solo challenge. Connolly raised money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Others also ran the 24-hour race solo to benefit other causes. Kusan found it a bit heartwarming to see the good that people are doing.
“Yes and no because it’s objectively a really stupid thing to do as an activity,” Kusan joked. “It’s Monday and my shoulder still hurts. I slept basically Sunday morning until Monday afternoon because I was so exhausted. It’s super unsafe if you don’t do it right. However, it really warms my heart to see people choose to race for causes that inspire them. Whether that be Children’s Hospitals or whatever they feel needs to be highlighted. There’s a lot more good in this world then we know.”
It’ll be a full year until Kusan can take on the twice around the clock charitable challenge solo again.