As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak of 2019 / 20 has caused the vast majority of races and racing events to be cancelled or postponed until further notice (and they are safe to resume); the void is being filled by the rise of iRacing and eSports. While the physical tracks and circuits are out of commission, the online and virtual space is attracting pro racers and spectators instead – effectively replacing the high octane energy of the track with a more accessible experience for all involved.
Virtual grand prix
Major players like Formula 1 and Nascar have gone so far as to announce a virtual grand prix (starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix on the 22nd of March) and eNascar series respectively. Far from placeholder events to bide the time, real life professional drivers will be taking part – simulating a real race on real tracks, with spectators effectively ‘logging in’ to tune in for every twist and turn. iRacing for example gives players more than eighty cars and more than eighty tracks to choose from – including open wheel, prototype, rallycross and more. Their official partners also include the majority of the global leading car brands.
As you can see, virtual racing is already an embraced and thriving aspect of the motorsport industry.
The sporting video game industry has always been a thriving one (you might have heard of fantasy football for example) and while this motorsport aspect was a part of it, it is poised to receive even more acknowledgement and exposure given the current pandemic situation. While anyone can also experience these virtual racers as a player themselves, the more casual video game fan can instead opt to watch the races from the likes of the official YouTube and Twitch accounts etc. of each racing organisation taking part. Will you yourself choose to try virtual racing with iRacing and eSports, tune in to be a virtual spectator of the track . . . or both?
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