The Story of Norman J. Borczon & MNRL

Affectionately known as “Stormin Norman”, he had a career racing in real life. He raced in SCCA National and Pro racing and IMSA from 1968 until he retired from it in 1994 at the age of 49. Norm started his racing career in Formula Vee, and throughout his career raced in various categories including G Production Sprite, D Production Austin Healey 3000, Sports Renault, and Renault Le Car single-make series.. In IMSA he drove the Renault Cup series.


He retired as a Locomotive Engineer from Conrail and Norfolk Southern Railroad. In retirement, he enjoyed working as a Courtesy Shuttle Driver at Holy Spirit Hospital. He attended St. Joseph Preparatory School and graduated from Gannon University in Erie. He was a member of St. Theresa Parish, New Cumberland and Sousalarm Club. Norm hosted his own SIM racing events for many years. He earned his wings and was awarded the Private Pilot Ground Force Award from the Harrisburg Jet Center.

Norm enjoyed writing and was proudly published in the astronomy magazines The Relector (for the Astronomical League) and Astronomy Magazine.  He played guitar and owned a Martin 12-string. He also enjoyed golf as a hobby.

Sim Racing History

Norm started his sim racing career online and offline back in 1998, that same year launching the Monday Race League (not to be confused with the current Monday Night Race League). He drove and utilized a variety of sims in his SIM career, including NASCAR ’98, NASCAR 3 and various other progressions through the Papyrus catalogue. rFactor was his sim of choice. He also enjoyed GSCE and developed mods in that sim as well.  Norm spent a lot of time developing mods for use in his Monday Night Race League (MNRL). And, of course, on the art of sim racing itself.

In 2007 Norm invested in a Thomas racing wheel and pedals: “Everything guaranteed for life and built like a tank”. No force feedback, but better than his previous equipment, which “kept on breaking”. I think we’ve all been there through overuse/lack of quality of the early available wheels on the market.

The original MNRL was originally started back in 2000 by Barry Blocker, with Norm having no involvement at that stage. Barry left around 2006 and Norm became more involved, eventually adopting stewardship of the league in 2009. In September 2010 Norm began running the Monday Night Race League (MNRL) at Race2Play, taking full advantage of the R2P platforms, league homepages, race servers, and [at the time] vast active driver community. And MNRL proved to be a very popular league with high sign-ups and turnouts for the various series it still runs to this day. After the closure of R2P, MNRL found a new home in a generous offer that was extended, by David Anderson and Champion Motorsports, to house MNRL. Norm had been saddened by the news of the closure of R2P and, perhaps, was worried at the prospects of the future of his sim racing career. He gladly accepted the offer and with support from the CMS community, to this day his MNRL is still bringing in the crowds, a testament to his accomplishments within the sim racing community, and a testament about what it means when it is said that “it’s about more than just the racing”.

Behind the Scenes at MNRL

The MNRL utilizes mods for rFactor that are either scratch-built or amended to meet unique MNRL requirement. Norm had an association with mod maker Dave Sabre from the UK for many years. This association started when Sabre was creating the original F5000 mod. He allowed Norm to create a ‘League Edition’, meaning all the cars were the same under the skin. This is a hallmark of the MNRL/Sabre mods – different marques but the same physics, engine, gearing etc. Another hallmark, and perhaps the most well known of the MRNL mod standards is what Norm called “lift/blip”, which brings yet another element of immersion to the sim racing experience.

Andy Graydon asked Norm about the process for creating the mods utilized in the MNRL at Race2Play in 2012, and it makes for some interesting reading:

“Typically, with Dave Sabre, I get an idea for a mod (CanAm, Lotus 23B, Sports 2000, Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic, etc.) and I approach him with it. He does the grunt work, the hard job of texturing of the car models. He then designs a physics model. For some multi-marque mods, such as Formula 2, he does individual physics for each marque and often releases the marque as he has designed it.”

“My part comes in during the League Edition process, deciding on the ‘master car’ whose physics will govern all the marques. Then ‘massaging’ and applying those physics and tailoring the mod specifically to MNRL’s requirements. I paint along with a small team including Paul Nadeau and Peter Berry. Other contributors to our current MNRL mods include Dave Bradley. Paul Nadeau (along with a few others) does a lot of conceptualization and testing, ensuring that when the final product is sent to the drivers there are no glitches. Peter Berry does a lot of upgrade work for the mods as well as physical appearance (driver suits, helmets, mirror placement etc.). The result is an MNRL League Edition of a Dave Sabre mod.”

With other mods, such as the Saleen Mustang or the BMW 2002tii (for example), Norm started by seeking permission from the appropriate modders to convert their mod to the MNRL format.

“As I transform the mod to our standards, I constantly check with the original modders, who either accept or reject my changes. Sometimes, though rarely, my changes are unacceptable … But if I cannot continue without making such modifications then the project is dropped.”

MNRL has an intimate feel to it. Looking through the League forums you will come across many threads with familiar faces having friendly conversations, discussing setups, just hanging out. Also of note is that the champions at MNRL are awarded trophies of one sort or another as tokens of their achievements. That’s a very nice touch indeed.

Norm looked to create different kinds of championships for MNRL. Typically Norm liked to run two series at the same time, alternating Mondays, which, over time, became alternating Tuesdays. Within championships Norm also created the ‘Seniors’ division. Basically, sim racers aged 54 years or older have their own championship within the races.

“The advanced age (drivers) … readily acknowledge that we cannot compete with the ‘kids’, as we call them,” Norm once said.

Meeting Friends Through Sim Racing

Clearly MNRL is a well-established League that has found a new lease on life at CMS. With so many contacts in the sim racing world (from both Race2Play and well before) has Norm ever met face-to-face with any of his fellow sim racers? Well, Andy asked him during that interview in 2012.

“Oh yes. I met many times with the late Frankie Amodeo. He was the very first person I ever met online. We became friends over the years. The older drivers will remember the rock group The Reflections. Their biggest hit was ‘Just Like Romeo and Juliet’. Frankie was the lead singer in that group. Sadly Frankie passed on seven years ago and is fondly missed by the veteran MNRL drivers.”

“I have known Louie Bell since 1986 and we raced in the SCCA together for many years. Louie and I get together every time he comes back East from Arizona.”

“Rob Thaeler and I have lunch about once every three months.”

“On a trip to California in December 2011 I had the pleasure of meeting and lunching with Dave Bradley and Paul Nadeau, both of whom now help me a lot in the mod development for MNRL.”

“Whenever time permits, someday, Ralph Kemmerer and Al Canal and I are supposed to meet up. Also, if he ever gets his health back, Van Bonham is also coming to me for a visit.”

I must admit that some of these names I had never come across before. So I completed a search and sure enough there they are, having driven in Norm’s MNRL league! It just goes to show what a great community we have, that people make friendships from a hobby that can be so individual – sitting in front of a PC screen by yourself vying for position on track with somebody who could behalf way around the world … or just across the street.

Leaving a Legacy

Clearly Norm loved sim racing, and having a group of like-minded people helping out with very unique mods must be very rewarding. It shows in his willingness to run a League for the enjoyment of both himself and all. And what could be more pleasing than having fellow sim racing drivers turn up in droves to race and enjoy the League of his efforts? That League, the MNRL, has grown from a handful of active drivers when it moved to Race2Play in 2010 to more than 250 members today.

If there was ever a “SIM racing legend”, Norm surely fits the profile. And more than that, he was a great man. Always willing to lend a kind word or try to make you laugh. Always trying to make some happy. A legend indeed.


*Originally published at R2P in Race2Play>Sim racing>People>Norm Borczon>MNRL make Monday Night right
Sep 06, 2012

Interview with Norm and original article by: Andy Graydon
Additional information and edits by Jason Whited, with permissions from Andy Graydon. (Thanks, Andy)

In honor of Norm, there are a few places you can donate if you choose.  If you would like to make a donation to his favorite astronomy organization at www.astrohbg.org/ please do so.

And, as always, like Norm said….donate as regularly as you can to CMS at cmsracing.com/ and “don’t be that guy”….

Norman J. Borczon
4 March 1945 – 27 February 2017