NASCAR swaps race tracks for pixels in pivot to esports amid coronavirus race cancellations

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Credit: Fox - Edited

Professional NASCAR drivers are taking to virtual worlds in the hopes it’ll provide a welcome alternative to the now mostly canceled race calendar.

[Read: Pro and amateur cyclists meet in VR amid coronavirus race cancellations]

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the NASCAR race calendar has been postponed until May. But broadcaster Fox Sports and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (aka NASCAR) have taken the unusual step to launch the first ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series to keep viewer figures up during the season’s pause, Engadget reports.

Fox Sports is going to televise the virtual races, which are said to attract top flight pros from the sport including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, and Kyle Busch.

Races will take place using driving and race simulator, iRacing. Fox says that it’s following the CDC‘s guidance to ensure no drivers or production staff are put at risk during the series.

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Credit: Jeff Favignano
Drivers will race on esports simulator iRacing.

If you want to tune in, the first race is going to take this weekend on March 22, at 13:30 Eastern time on FS1.

Virtual worlds rescuing sport

NASCAR isn’t the first sport to be affected by coronavirus, it’s also not the first to take to virtual worlds as the season is put on hold.

Over the past few weeks, online cycle game-come-training platform Zwift has played host to a number of events and group rides in place of canceled races. It’s actually given chance for many amateur cyclist and fans to ride alongside their heroes, well, virtually at least.

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