Due to the spread of COVID-19, many professional athletes have found themselves quarantined at home like the rest of us rather than on the field, in the pool, or on the court. The same is true for professional NASCAR drivers as the motorsport world, too, is suspended until further notice. However, these drivers will still be racing each other every weekend on the racing simulator iRacing.
According to The Verge, Fox and FS1 networks will be broadcasting virtual races every weekend in place of their usual NASCAR programming for the time being. These virtual races will comprise of NASCAR past, present and rising star drivers.
Although these races aren’t official in the sense that they won’t count towards NASCAR’s championship, it appears that there is heavy interest in the event from fans and drivers alike. There have already been incredibly successful one-off virtual events, like NASCAR’s virtual ‘Pro Invitational’ race which drew in over 900,000 viewers. This invitational showcased how excited fans were about the opportunity to still see their favorite drivers race and gave opportunities to both current and retired drivers and announcers to continue participating in the sport they love.
Given the fluidity of the pandemic, these virtual races do not have an end date. If the suspension of the NASCAR circuit continues longer than they expect, it could be interesting to see if and how these virtual races transform into more serious events that count for points or have prizes.
For more information on COVID-19, please see the CDC website.