Can Racing Survive in Esports?


Last year saw the wider spread success of iRacing as motorsport athletes from many different disciplines including NASCAR and Formula 1 took part in a number of online competitions to not only promote motorsports virtually, but also prepare for the return of the different offline motorsport events that would shortly follow. But in the grand scheme of things, racing remains quite a niche interest in the space as bigger titles cast a big shadow, and with the likes of NASCAR investing in their own esports league, it begs  the question of whether or not racing can survive in the virtual space, and what may be needed for it to grow much like other big esports have.

Keep the big names involved – The first step to generating interest must be in getting the talent involved, as this had been much of the reason why success had been found last year. Big names in F1 like Lando Norris regularly stream online, and so do keep a steady number of eyes on these games when played, but many drivers who actively stream don’t often stream driving games either. If the virtual racing scene through games like iRacing are to grow, it may need the help of these familiar names to push more viewers and more players to giving it a go, as it may remain a little too niche for regular motorsport viewers who may typically be a little older to tune into.

Keep the drama away – The first round of iRacing events had been met with a little drama following disciplinary action needed against two or three NASCAR drivers following disputes online, and whilst the saying goes that no press is bad press, that didn’t really seem to be the case here – if drivers are going to be asked to participate more, perhaps some PR training is needed to ensure they stay level headed online, as reports similar to what had happened the first time round will only hurt the fledgeling sport too. The good news is that these platforms could be perfectly used for streaming practice sessions or simulation sessions, and may not necessarily be only used for racing, which could keep some of drama away.

Investment through hard times – Whilst an initial investment has been made by the likes of NASCAR to develop its own virtual racing league, continued investment through tougher times will ultimately be what is needed to keep things moving forward. Success won’t be found overnight, and bailing out overnight will make any recovery harder – with supporting markets such as betting at for virtual racing already existing, there is at least some growing interest being shown, but it’s certainly a marathon and not a sprint.

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