Well, in my case it's a bit different because I'm a big fan of StarWars, and I play for a long period of time SW Sim, like Rogues Squadron and even the Tie Fighter. Then I find one CD wich have FlMM with Gundam Missile Mod, and I began to look for Freelancer because Gundam was a name very familiar to me!
So I began to play Freelancer with mods actvated. Even now my favorite ship is X-Wing from Mancer Mods.
Only much later I played org. Frreelancer, gest to see what Digital Anvil made.
BTW. good topic, and I think every fan of Freelancer have a good story to tell.
I will be glad to heard the story of the LancersReactor creeator