NASCAR replaces cancelled races with eSports, features pro drivers

While South Africans might be more familiar with Formula 1 than NASCAR, the United States’ preferred automotive pastime is another sporting arena that has been left reeling in the wake of COVID-19, which has seen a number of races and competitions cancelled.

However, rather than take the punch lying down, NASCAR has made the unprecedented move to announce that its series of competitive races will still go ahead – albeit, in an eSports format where professional drivers of the league will sit behind real steering wheels in front of screens as opposed to the race track.

Dubbed the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, the event will see hardened names compete in an altogether new format. The announcement has seen the format described as ‘simulational’, and there’s presently no word as to whether virtual courses might emulate real ones, or whether they’ll be entirely original. In its first event, competitors will race on a virtual edition of the famous Homestead-Miami Speedway, however.

If you happen to follow NASCAR, top-tier competitors such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will be taking part – marking an event where talented drivers will now test their mettle in a virtual setting.

The move will perhaps be the first real stress-test for fans and competitors making the transition from physical sports to eSports. While it remains to be seen just how interested fans are, the event will (hopefully) be a pleasant break for those in isolation. The first race event is set to take place on March 22nd at 1:30PM Eastern Standard Time on the Fox Sports app.

What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in following eSports-variants of your favourite physical sports – whether in motoring or beyond? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below, and what you’d prefer to watch.