Back in 2010, NASCAR launched a simulation racing series with the iRacing online platform. At the time, the move surprised sports and gaming fans. Though NASCAR fans number close to 50,000, the gritty stock car series didn’t seem to have much in common with the emerging eSports industry.
The iRacing project ended up being a hit. As a simulation game, iRacing participants can deck out their PC devices as minimally or extensively as they want. The series can be played with wheels, pedals, and shifters, which helps emulate the experiencing of driving in NASCAR.
For those who couldn’t hope to gut and remodel a stock car like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Danika Patrick, the iRacing series offered a realistic simulation. Though setups can be pricey, it costs nothing to sign up for NASCAR leagues and racing series with the platform.
NASCAR and iRacing recently announced the launch of an international series for overseas competitors on the iRacing platform. If the series proves popular enough, it could mean that eNASCAR becomes more widely followed than the league it stemmed from.
This could have larger effects, including attention from sportsbooks. At the moment, NASCAR betting odds are offered by a range of sportsbooks for major events like The Glen and Indy500. However, more and more sportsbooks are offering wagers on eSports as well—and the sector is growing rapidly.
If NASCAR’s International iRacing Series gains steam abroad, it could be featured alongside odds on the real NASCAR season. Additionally, popular skins betting in games like CS: GO could be incorporated into the iRacing series to expand car design options for Chevrolet, Toyota, and Ford.
Building on Success of 2020’s Pro Invitational Series
After over a decade of success with NASCAR-gaming fans, eNASCAR announced it would be expanding its markets in Europe, Mexico, and Canada with a eNASCAR International iRacing Series. The competition will consist of three separate races at virtual iterations of real tracks.
These are Brands Hatch (located in the UK), Circuit of the Americas (located in Texas, USA), and the Dayton Road Course (located in Florida, USA). The International Series is invitation only and will feature the top drivers from the eNASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series, Peak Mexico Series, Pinty’s Series, and qualified participants from the 2021 Drive for Diversity class.
The International Series is building on the newly-launched Pro Invitational Series from eNASCAR iRacing. The series kickstarted in 2020 and featured real-life pros like Jeff Gordan and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who have experience racing on the real version of iRacing’s simulated tracks.
Originally, the Pro Invitational Series was a single-night event. However, the race proved hugely popular; the first race drew in some 903,000 remote viewers, while the second topped out at 1,339,000 viewers. To date, these are the most-watched broadcasts from the eSports sector.
This year, NASCAR pros signed on for another five races, which began on March 24, 2021.
An Exceptional Experience in iRacing
As mentioned above, eNASCAR straddles the line between eSports and the real deal. Other popular sports simulations, from FIFA Football to NFL Madden, don’t offer as well-rounded of an experience for gamers; they aren’t required to run, pass, or take a hit from a linebacker.
But iRacing enthusiasts can closely emulate the experience of real-life pros. Even the tracks are accurate, virtual replicas of iconic venues. In fact, it’s so thorough of a simulation that racers, from Formula One stars to NASCAR legends, use the platform to brush up on their skills when they can’t head to a racetrack.
So what about the platform has led to the success of eNASCAR? First and foremost, developers at iRacing nailed physics. This includes a range of considerations, from suspension to handling to tires, which are based on the physical specs of the Chevy, Toyota, and Ford cars that players can choose from. eNASCAR even seeks to keep safety at the forefront of its virtual endeavor; players are penalized for accidents and receive Safety Ratings that affect their standing.
Beyond the realm of NASCAR, the iRacing platform has found success in emulating real tournaments and leagues. One of their most popular features is a ‘career mode’, which will see newcomers start as rookies and battle their way to becoming pros.