There’s a lot of things NASCAR has done that is considered silly and inane, but what the drivers did on Sunday in conjunction with iRacing was fantastic. It wasn’t the real racing we all know and love, but it was something to get the stress of the world off people’s mind in all of this. Especially since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was up at the front, even with Denny Hamlin taking the win.
Some people are on the fence with eSports because it’s virtual and the onus on the virtual sporting world is that they’re lazy people who just play video games for a living. From the small sample size I’ve seen, it’s probably more mentally wearing for these competitors than physically; which takes its toll in a different way. But this is the evolution of sports for people, especially with iRacing out there and NBA 2K leagues. Hell, people have been clamoring for Madden Leagues since the early-00s with having podcasts about it by that age.
But the racing today was fun from the virtual Homestead. A lot of racers who don’t get many TV mentions on the actual Cup races were front and center because they use the iRacing site for the testing their small teams can’t afford. Guys like Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe– all of them are very fluent in the iRacing scene and finally had a chance to really shine out there.
And let’s not forget the Fox NASCAR crew of Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, and Larry McReynolds during this race– actually calling it like a real life race. Granted, they had some fun with it every now and again, but they didn’t mock it like they could have because they don’t know much about it. They did it with a good sense of professionalism during a really bizarre time for everyone.
NASCAR is one of only a couple sports that could pull this off with all their stars in one stage since it is a single-entity race. Maybe golf and tennis, but it’d be hard for NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB players to play as themselves in a virtual world and have it worthwhile for a viewing audience. Too many moving parts, I would think.
If this were to happen for a while, I would definitely watch again. It didn’t take up my whole day, it was fun, and it was a different side of the sport I didn’t think I would enjoy– but I did. Congrats to the Fox and iRacing team for making this a great event to deal with and for getting people’s mind off some things for a bit.