PORTSMOUTH (WAVY) – With every major sports league shut down due to Covid19, Nascar has found an innovative way to keep fans entertained and drivers sharp.
Thanks to the virtual world of iracing, cars are replaced with simulators, race suits are replaced with shorts and t-shirts, and the world’s best compete on virtual tracks.
“(iRacing) is the most authentic racing simulation you can do on a PC from your home,” said Steve Myers, iRacing Executive Vice President.
FOX Sports has broadcast ever race so far. More than 900,000 fans tuned in to see Denny Hamlin win the first race at virtual Homestead, and 1.3 million saw Timmy Hill take the win at Texas last week.
“(It’s) just allowing people to have a couple hours of normalcy,” said Myers.
Thanks to FOX Sports, hundreds of thousands of fans may be getting a taste of iracing for the very first time, but the series has actually been around since 2004.
Yes, there is a professional level. Yes, there is a series regular season champion, and yes that champion takes home a pretty big check.
Zack Novak, 18, races from him home in Connecticut. He pocketed $43,000 for winning the iRacing championship last season, and has since signed with the eNascar team at Richmond Raceway.
“Four years ago, when I did end up qualifying for iRacing’s top series, the viewership and the fan base of it was a lot smaller than what we have now,” said Novak.
“IRacing and NASCAR together just promoted it a lot, and we’ve had crazy growth.”
Myers feels the collective effort of iRacing and NASCAR to keep racing alive and well for the time being is something to marvel at.
“I haven’t signed a single contract for anything we’ve done over the last two and a half weeks,” said Myers. “It’s just a collective group of people trying to do what’s best for everybody trying to put on these shows.”