US stock car racing series Nascar and online racing simulation company iRacing have teamed up to create the eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series, an exhibition esports competition featuring many of the sport’s most talented and popular drivers.
The competition is an attempt to give fans alternative viewing, and enable them to stay engaged with Nascar, while its season is on hold until at least May 3 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will feature drivers from the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series, and Nascar legends.
Among the confirmed participants are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Christopher Bell. The multi-week series will kick off on March 22, with a virtual race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Until we have cars back on track, the entire Nascar community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day,” said Ben Kennedy, Nascar’s vice president of racing development. “Our long-time partners at iRacing offer an incredible product and we are excited to see how many of our best drivers will stack up in the virtual domain of competitive racing.”
It is hoped that Fox or NBC will become broadcast partners for the series.
“There are discussions we’re having with Fox about what things we can do, discussions we would have with NBC, things that we can put through our own channels that satisfy our fans,” Nascar president Steve Phelps told reporters. “Our fans are obviously thirsty for this content. We want to provide it to them smartly and have interesting content as opposed to just repurposing some of the content that’s already been done.”