Total Performance Racing was one of the first esports teams to compete on the Forza Motorsport franchise. Established in 2008, around 8-10 months after the release of Forza Motorsport 2, this was a team playing Forza competitively almost a decade before the incarnation of the Forza Racing
Championship – Microsoft’s premier esports racing series that begun in 2016 on Forza Motorsport 6.
“Forza was a different animal back then and ‘success’ was different to winning the ForzaRC we have in place now,” says TPR’s Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy, who I had the opportunity catch up with recently to speak about the team’s return to competitive Forza play and its refocus on the ForzaRC. “Time trial leaderboards were where teams fought for pride rather than prizes and TPR quickly gained a reputation for the team to beat.”
As time passed, the team eventually grew to about 15 players and these included a lot of household names – some of who are still around in the Forza esports scene today, such as ‘Craviator’ and ‘Rayzer’ of Japspeed Racing, as well as Vitality ASIX – who joined the team briefly for a few months. Like JSR, TPR isn’t built like other usual racing or esports teams.
“The team is built on trust and friendship as we have all known each other for over a decade, speak every day, and have shared some awesome experiences,” Kennedy says.
Eventually, the TPR name started to fizzle out as the team got older and the Forza franchise made its leap from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. All the current members have full time jobs and some even have fiancés and kids, and this made finding the time to race together and organize the team a little challenging. However, the TPR name has made its return on Forza
Motorsport 7 to compliment the 2018 season of the ForzaRC, and with Series 2
having just begun, they felt it was the perfect time for a rebrand – something its members have been discussing on and off for some time now.
“A number of racers and spectators alike probably don’t know about TPR, so it’s time to reintroduce a brand that’s been a mainstay for almost all of the Forza games to the current generation,” Matt says. In addition, the ForzaRC is also expected to double-down on team racing in the future – and this can be seen from the recent trials it has done at the Pre-Season
Invitational in Seattle last March as well as a pre-playoffs Team Exhibition livestream last month.
“With the introduction of the first team races just before the Seattle Playoffs, even if it was a slight experimentation with cars and tracks, we feel this could be a route Gfinity and ForzaRC want to explore further which I think we should be prepared for,” Kennedy adds.
Outside of the ForzaRC, TPR will also participate in various TORA and ORL-organized league races as they have done in various guises in the past – which should lead to some interesting competition out on the track.
And whilst the team don’t have any specific plans to recruit other drivers just yet because of its focus on trust and friendship, it has signed one familiar name to coincide with the rebrand and its efforts on the ForzaRC – and that’s Jay ‘Amarth’ Sherlock.
“He’s raced against and with the squad for a number of years now and has become a great friend to the team,” Matt says. “We thought it was a matter of perfect timing when Amarth decided to come out of retirement for Series 2 to coincide with our relaunch.”
Other drivers on the roster include 2x Forza Motorsport World Champion David ‘Daveyskills’ Kelly and GT Academy 2011 National Finalist and 2012 European Finalist Dan ‘Dantastic’ Glover, as well as Alex ‘
ChemicaL’ Harrison and of course, Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy. You can find the full roster of drivers below in their official team line-up graphic.
Since TPR started on Forza Motorsport 2, you’ll notice their official team graphics deploy a colour scheme that’s reminiscent of the classic 2007 racer they poured hundreds of hours into on Xbox 360. It’s a nice nod to their heritage and background, as well as their past drivers and experiences. These graphics were made by the team’s official media person Alex ‘ABGraphics’ Banks – and as you can see, he’s done a cracking job of them. He’s also behind their official liveries in Forza Motorsport 7 – available for anyone to download in-game.
Overall, TPR currently has a solid line-up of drivers at this moment in time, and its future initiatives will vary based on the tournament formation of the ForzaRC. Because it operates differently to most teams, TPR are hoping to build out and expand its brand to attract sponsors who are keen to support such a unique team and what is essentially a household name in the Forza racing esports community.
“We are also looking to give something back to the community and are pursuing a few options on this,” Kennedy revealed, adding that the team are open to ideas. One of the examples he shared with me were the possibility of fundraisers to raise money for various charity organizations. We’ll have to see what happens in the future, but TPR are hoping to contribute and assist in various initiatives where they can. Those interested in collaborating with TPR on such projects can find the team’s contact details on their Twitter.
Given the team’s legacy on the Forza franchise, I was curious to hear Matt’s thoughts on how Microsoft and Gfinity have been handling the ForzaRC, including how he feels about the current state of the racing esports series and where he’d like to see it headed in the future.
“ForzaRC has come a long way since its first incarnation but it’s still got a long, long way to go,” he says. “Viewers need a reason to root for certain teams and drivers, so I think getting to know the teams and drivers more intimately would really go a long way to help with viewership and engagement.”
“We have started to see it, but team interviews and profiles would be welcome,” he adds. “Drivers come and go over time, but if the essence of teams can be captured that’s extremely important for supporters and the game in general.”
Multiple TPR drivers qualified for the ForzaRC
Series 1 Playoffs in Seattle, WA last month, and whilst this is an incredible feat, only one member managed to qualify for the final on Sunday with David ‘Daveyskills’ Kelly.
“It’s difficult to judge [our success], none of us have a lot of time to practice and play so while we didn’t reach our potential, I don’t think we did ourselves a disservice at all,” Matt says regarding the team’s performance in Seattle – adding that two other drivers were extremely close to making it, including himself and Alex ‘ChemicaL’ Harrison.
“Part of ForzaRC for TPR is meeting up as a team as well as the competing and we certainly made the most of that opportunity!”
When I asked about their aspirations leading into Series 2, the Mexico Playoffs and the Forza Racing World Championship finals in London, England this October, Matt said the team hopes to have at least 3 or 4 drivers in Mexico with at least one making it to the finals. “That’s definitely achievable,” he says. “As for London, I think we should aim for three drivers to make it to London, all from the UK, so hopefully some home advantage should come into play during the pressure moments!”
TPR is hoping to achieve this whilst continuing to build their brand after their recent relaunch. Combined with their goals and aspirations for the rest of this year’s competitive racing season, Matt believes that would be a successful 2018 for the team – and it would set them up for the world stage as ForzaRC continues to evolve in 2019 and beyond.
There’s always room for expansion though – and that certainly applies in the Forza esports scene, in which new drivers and talent are always welcome. “Get training,” Matt responded when I asked what advice he’d share for those aspiring to build their skill and aim for a potential career in Forza esports. “Start watching replays, learning lines in different classes, joining races with faster people – you won’t get faster by winning the whole time. These are things we still do to this day, it’s invaluable.”
Thanks to Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy for taking the time
to speak to us about TPR’s background, its rebrand and aspirations. You can
follow the team’s newly-relaunched
Twitter account to stay up-to-date with everything Total Performance Racing
and its drivers achieve in the ForzaRC and beyond.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.