Missing motorsport? NASCAR sets up Esports series for its real-world drivers
In light of the current Coronavirus outbreak and recent motorsport event cancellations, there has been a sudden growth in online Esports races. Last weekend saw the Australian Grand Prix being replaced by a pair of widely viewed online races and now real-world championships are looking to join the party.
NASCAR has announced that, from this weekend it will be hosting the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series putting the sport’s most popular drivers against each other. As the name points out, the multi-week series will be held on the popular iRacing simulator that also hosts the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series for the best oval simracers around.
The first round of the exhibition series will take place on a virtual, but accurate, rendition of the Miami Homestead track. The race will probably be streamed live on the iRacing eSports Network from 1:30pm ET on Sunday 22 March. However, the medium for the stream hasn’t been officially confirmed.
The series is set to run for the duration that racing is postponed. For the meantime, that is until May 3, but with the current pandemic’s volatility, we really can’t be sure how long the drought will last.
So far, NASCAR has confirmed that racers from the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander RV and Outdoor Truck Series will take part in the event. This means we’ll see the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell all competing in a virtual representation of the oval series.
In a statement, Ben Kennedy, vice president of racing development at NASCAR said, “Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day.”
Judging by the quality of racing in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola Series and recent esports races, I’m sure this alternative to the postponed NASCAR events will do just fine.