Fox and FS1 are going to broadcast a “season” of virtual races that include current, past, and rising NASCAR stars against each other in iRacing. The races will air on Sundays at 1 PM ET, which is the same timeslot for real-life NASCAR races. They will also be able to watch on the Fox Sports app.
There is no clarity on how many races will be held, as it is still unclear how long the real-world season will be suspended. The drivers are also not gaining any points towards the real-world NASCAR championships, or getting paid. These, for now, are just for fun.
With the pandemic still going on, pro drivers are starting to spend their time playing racing games like iRacing, rFactor 2, and F1 2019. This past weekend, Formula One hosted its first “Virtual Grand Prix”, which featured current racer Lando Norris, former racer Nico Hülkenber, and other YouTubers and pro sim racers. The race was a huge success, bringing more than 900,000 viewers, according to Fox. Although it is nowhere close to the millions that usually watch NASCAR, it is still close to some of the least viewed racing events.
These games, especially iRacing, offer NASCAR drivers a true to life racing experience from the comfort of their own home, or team headquarters without the expensive (now impossible) booking of a real-world practice track. The downside to this, however, is that it will not be available on YouTube or Twitch.
At the same time, other real-world athletes are spending their social distancing time either playing video games or starting their own streaming channels. NASCAR has already started its own “eNASCAR” iRacing sports series on YouTube, apart from the one that is already streamed on Fox. There is also a virtual NCAA basketball tournament beings streamed on YouTube, along with many other games modifying their gameplay to accommodate and help people get through these quarantine times.