There is no NASCAR racing happening right now.
There is no Formula 1, IndyCar, NBA, NHL, XFL, Spring Training, or March Madness.
Heck, they even shut down Broadway and Disney World. Crazy.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire globe, there are a lot of unknowns right now. Nobody wants to admit it, but there is panic setting in.
There aren’t too many people who truly know what’s going on, and shutting everything down like this is pretty scary, not going to lie.
When will it go back to normal, or will it ever go back to normal? Hopefully, the precautions taken by many means that the Coronavirus effect is minimal on us all.
What can we do in the meantime?
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 13, 2020
Well, there are options like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and many more streaming services, that you could always catch up on your favorite shows during the pandemic.
Many people will still have work to do, maybe from home in the meantime, but there’s still a void for many of us NASCAR fans out there that truly can’t be filled.
May I present to the viewer, maybe a close substitute for NASCAR in the meantime?
NASCAR eSports. eNASCAR. Virtual race car racing, where the racing is done on a computer.
Before going further, I do want to make a disclaimer.
There is no way that I would ever want this to replace the real thing, and I’m sure that 99.9% of the people involved in Motorsports, fans of Motorsports, and most people with cognitive thought would agree with me on this.
There is no true replacement for the magical thing that is NASCAR racing, or any Motorsports, for that matter.
Given the circumstances laid out in front of us all, with no live Motorsports happening for the time being, why not promote something where the stars can still compete against each other, or maybe even against the best Sim Racers out there?
Should I do a big hosted race on iRacing?
Get some drivers and fans involved and Find a way to have someone stream it? I feel like we all need something to pick our spirits up.#NASCAR
— Ryan Vargas (@RyanVargas_23) March 13, 2020
iRacing.com Motorsports Simulations is highly regarded as one of the closest products to the real thing out there, as far as virtual racing is concerned.
The stories have been told countless times regarding Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski, William Byron, and so many more who have ties to the sim racing world.
I’ve shown screenshots that I’ve taken from eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series events, and asked friends and family to compare them to photographs I’ve taken at the track, and most can’t tell the difference.
Last season, the eNCiS finale took place live on NBCSN, after two successful All-Star races that also took place on live television. The success was enough to sign everyone involved up for six more races on NBCSN later in 2020.
There have already been efforts to fill the void with online races involving combinations of real life drivers and some of the best virtual drivers.
The stars will be out on track tomorrow afternoon as we take you to @amsupdates for The Replacements 100 on @iRacing . Coverage starts at 3pm ET, with Green Flag at 3:30pm ET. You can watch the whole race LIVE at https://t.co/fSQZL9KiaG#Replacements100 pic.twitter.com/iWdj3o09j3
— Podium eSports (@PodiumeSports) March 14, 2020
Ryan Vargas, an up-and-coming NASCAR driver who has a handful of NASCAR Xfinity Races under his belt from last season, immediately turned to Twitter on Friday and sparked a huge interest in a possible race utilizing iRacing.
The Vargas event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, with more details to be announced later. It was incredible to see the interest, as well as the interactions take place during after the initial, innocent question that was put out there.
Another effort made by iRacing and Podium eSports will put former, current, and future NASCAR stars on the virtual track on Sunday afternoon at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway, dubbed “The Replacements 100”.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will tentatively be racing, as well as Chad Knaus. Many more drivers, spotters, and NASCAR personalities will partake, as well as some eNASCAR drivers.
Anthony Alfredo, who drives for Richard Childress Racing in 2020, has his eSports Racing League races that he already has been running this season. They will have an All-Star event on Wednesday night.
— Speed51 (@speed51dotcom) March 14, 2020
The Elite Racing League is hosting a couple of events this weekend as well, with some well known talent behind the computer screen taking part. 9:00 pm ET tonight, they will race trucks on iRacing, and tomorrow at Noon, many of the same names will race in the Cup Series cars.
On the open-wheel side of things, an All-Star list of drivers from Formula 1 and IndyCar will race against one another using rFactor2’s platform, along with more of the best from the online platform.
People are promoting their NASCAR Heat races, streams are getting shared everywhere for iRacing official and hosted races, and heck, I’m going to even have a personal stream on Sunday night for my own NASCAR Racing 2003 Season event.
The interest exists out there, people want to see something, and the only thing left to do is, in my opinion, to put some of the more premier sim racing events on television to fill the void from the missing Motorsports action.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) March 13, 2020
Round up the as many NASCAR Cup Series stars as possible, set up webcams, and utilize the tools that are available to keep NASCAR fans entertained while the Coronavirus prevents the real product from being on the track.
Show highlights of the current eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series races, and involve those stars in some way or another.
There are so many of us who would jump immediately at the opportunity to make this happen.
FOX Sports and NBC Sports won’t have much of anything else live, as far as sports are concerned, to put on the air. Filling the empty slots with something fun like eSports could be a huge thing for everyone involved.
My thought is, that there will be fans who tune in for TV that maybe wouldn’t tune in for a Twitch or YouTube stream. If the product looks as good as it’s been on the online broadcasts, it’s going to be an incredible show to see how everything might translate.
There have already been segments of drivers showing off the virtual tracks before they get on the real thing.
It won’t be real NASCAR racing. Nothing will ever be able to compare.
It will be fun, it will be a show, and it will keep us all entertained, one way or another.
Put NASCAR eSports on TV while this Coronavirus keeps NASCAR off TV.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com