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Alum’s racing simulation business pulls ahead of the pack

Vortex Racing gives clients the chance to feel like a Formula One racer
January 20, 2020
By Matthew Scribner

Montrealers have long thrilled to the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix and other motorsports events. Rarely, though, have they had the chance to experience what it is like to actually drive a race car.

David Soued, BA (soc.) 10, MBA 11, is changing that.

Vortex’s racing simulation machines Vortex’s racing simulation machines are built by Cruden, a Netherlands-based company whose main clients are Formula One racers themselves.

Soued is the founder and proprietor of Vortex Racing, located in Montreal’s Lachine borough, where clients can operate one of eight racing simulation machines. The machines imitate the movements and force of a speeding race car. Each is equipped with three large screens so clients can watch their progress around the track as if from a car’s windshield and windows.

“We offer the same machines that F1 pilots use for their training and have them available to the general public to get the feel and thrill of driving Formula cars — but obviously in a safe, controlled environment,” Soued says.

The fully immersive experience starts with putting on a traditional driver’s outfit — jumpsuit, helmet, boots and gloves — and receiving instruction on how to use the simulators. “The machines lift about two feet in the air and have a range of motions in order to provide the G-forces,” he says.

Soued sees his business as catering to clients looking for hands-on experiences along the same lines as escape rooms, axe-throwing or paintball. To him, Vortex’s racing simulation machines are much more than video games.

“You are physically exerting yourself; there’s mental concentration required,” he explains. “This is a representative experience of what F1 pilots go through.”

Preparation for the road ahead

David Soued, BA 10, MBA 11 David Soued says his “sociology background gives the context needed to properly market to the world around you.”

Soued believes the education he received in Concordia’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology is partially responsible for his keen sense of what people want. “The things that you learn pursuing a sociology degree underpin a lot of different elements of business,” he says.

“You can find popular theories and practices in human resources and business development, especially in sales and marketing, that started off as academic research in sociology and then were put into practical application in business.”

Soued nonetheless felt that it was important to earn an MBA to complement his undergraduate arts degree.

“It gives you a reasonably broad exposure to a significant number of areas of business,” he says. “It allows you to properly interact with people from different departments and silos in their own language, which allows you to build rapport in a much easier fashion.”

In between completing his MBA in 2011 and starting Vortex in 2016, Soued did digital marketing for a Montreal law firm and worked as a small business consultant.

He still uses his Concordia education every day. “The sociology background gives the context needed to properly market to the world around you,” Soued says. “Who are the people am I trying to reach? What kind of behaviour am I trying to elicit from them?”

The high degree of realism in Vortex’s racing simulation is rare — maybe unique — in North America. That would ensure that Vortex has a following anywhere on the continent, yet it is important to Soued that his business is based in Montreal.

“I was born and raised in Montreal. I have a deep love of Montreal,” he says. “And obviously, we have the F1 race here every year, so there is a certain racing culture in town. There are tourists who come to Montreal with the idea in mind that this the Formula One city in Canada.”

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