NASCAR Drivers Started Racing Each Other Online, And It's Heading To TV
Since the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has resulted in the cancellation of pretty much all the sports, including motorsports like F1 and NASCAR. This has obviously left a fairly large void that needs to be filled. Luckily, video games have stepped up to fill it and give racing enthusiasts round the world a welcome distraction from current events.
Earlier this week, a group of NASCAR racers old and new decided to race each other online in a bid to cure their own boredom, but also as a nice way to keep fans entertained. The races were held via online PC racing sim iRacing, as it's one of the more "realistic" racing games out there, and presumably more comfortable for pro drivers to play.
The whole thing was a rip-roaring success, attracting over 70,000 unique viewers over the two-hour Twitch broadcast. "Pretty impressive with almost no notice or advertising," iRacing's marketing director Kevin Bobbit told The Verge in an email.
Take a look at a recap of Sunday's race below:
In light of that first broadcast's success, Fox and NASCAR have announced that they're going to broadcast a whole season of it on TV while we wait for normal service to resume. This is clearly a huge moment for esports, and will hopefully show those who weren't willing to take it seriously before the outbreak that watching video game action can be just as thrilling.
The upcoming series is called FOX NASCAR iRACING, and will kick off this Sunday at the virtual version of Texas Motor Speedway... where the actual NASCAR race would've gone down. That's pretty sweet.
There'll be a star-studded lineup of drivers from the NASCAR CUP SERIES, NASCAR XFINITY SERIES, NASCAR GANDER RV and OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES. We can also expect "a group of NASCAR dignitaries", including Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Bobby Labonte.
For extra authenticity, each race will feature commentary from the NASCAR booth team of Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds. Each race will also feature a prayer and the national anthem, as is tradition.
F1 drivers are also making the best of the current situation by competing in virtual races via Codemasters' official F1 game. the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series was announced earlier this week to give fans the chance "to continue watching Formula 1 races virtually, despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation that has affected this season's opening race calendar".
While many of the drivers might not be as comfortable with a controller as they are behind the wheel, I have to commend every single one who's getting involved and having a laugh. It's through fun, stupid little things like this that we'll all manage to stick together and come out the other side in one piece.
Featured Image Credit: NASCAR