Following a year in which sim racing has gained wide-spread acceptance among traditional motorsport fans, NASCAR could attempt capitalize on the trend.
NASCAR is in the process of finalizing a deal that will see it host esports events at various tracks throughout 2018, according to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern. The project is expected to be announced within the coming weeks.
The sport’s vice president of licensing and consumer products, Blake Davidson, supposedly is working with International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. on the venture — which own 12 and eight tracks, respectively. We’re not yet sure whether NASCAR plans to hold sim racing competitions during all races at ISC or SMI facilities, nor is it clear if NASCAR’s independently owned tracks, Dover International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway or Pocono Raceway, will be involved in the project.
The track-side tournaments reportedly will be held in haulers, and run on two platforms to accommodate fans of every skill level.
For casual gamers, there will be competitions on “NASCAR Heat 2,” which is the officially licensed game of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The game offers a blend of realistic physics and user-friendly arcade-style play.
NASCAR also will have tournaments for advanced sim racers utilizing iRacing, the same online simulator platform that hosts both the NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series and the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
The news comes roughly four months after Former Front Row Motorsports driver Landon Cassill told NESN Fuel that NASCAR “absolutely” should do more with respect to esports.
NASCAR has lagged behind other categories in terms of utilizing sim racing as a means of engaging with a wider range of fans, both at races and at home. Formula One, for example, held its inaugural F1 Esports Championship in 2017, and the World Endurance Championship added an official Esports class to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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