The Corona virus pandemic has canceled many sporting events, including racing. However, NASCAR was reluctant to stand idly by. Instead of a canceled race, NASCAR held the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which was joined by professional NASCAR motosport racers.
FOX Sports decided to broadcast the virtual race. According to data from Nielsen Media Research, the first race of the virtual tournament was watched by 903 thousand people. This makes the virtual race an esports television broadcast with the most number of viewers. Not only that, the race also became a sports broadcast on cable television that attracted the most audience last Sunday. Considering that not many sports events are broadcast, that is not uncommon.
Indeed, when compared to the actual number of NASCAR race viewers – the race at Phoenix Raceway gets 4.6 million viewers – the number of eNASCAR viewers is nothing. However, FOX Sports considers that interest in eNASCAR is large enough that they decided to broadcast all races from eNASCAR.
“The collaboration between FOX Sports, NASCAR, and iRacing turned out to be liked by racing fans, gamers and television viewers in the United States,” Brad Zager, FOX Sports Executive Producer said in an official statement, quoted by TechCrunch. “There are many things we learned in a short amount of time. And we are happy to be able to broadcast this new NASCAR esports tournament to more viewers. “
To hold the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Inviational Series, NASCAR is working with the sim racing platform, iRacing. In virtual races, participants use a set of equipment – PCs, steering wheels, and pedals – to make participants feel as if they were taking part in an actual race. This allows the race to be held without having to bring the racers together.
Even so, this broadcast from eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is still held as closely as possible with regular NASCAR race broadcasts, as stated by CNET. Three commentators – Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Larry McReynolds – came to the NASCAR studio to comment on the ongoing race. While Clint Bowyer, winner of the NASCAR Cup Series, gave a comment about what happened in the car.
“The virtual race that was held on Sunday received a warm welcome from netizens,” said Gordon, who has won the NASCAR Cup Series four times. “We can broadcast virtual races that are exciting and entertaining.” He also mentioned, this virtual race can entertain people who cannot leave the house because of the Corona virus pandemic. “I can’t wait to comment on the race in Texas on Sunday.”