In an effort to appeal to a younger generation of fans, NASCAR is reportedly finalizing a venture into "eSports" for video game tournaments. The tournaments would potentially take place at NASCAR events and could potentially start as early as the 2018 season.
Sources told Sports Business Journal that plans were not finished and it's unclear when the eSports league will officially be announced. It's likely that two separate tournaments will come from the venture, per the report: one for iRacing and one for the "NASCAR Heat" franchise. iRacing is a subscription-based racing simulator that offers an advanced platform for racers, while the "NASCAR Heat" franchise offers a blend of arcade-style racing and hardcore simulation.
Professionals believe bringing eSports into NASCAR is a natural fit since many real-world racers already train in similar ways. It also highlights the age shift in many sports as younger generations find other recreations or pastimes.
The finer details are still unknown, but the publication's sources added that International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. have been involved in the venture. The two companies own 20 tracks where NASCAR holds its races. The tournaments could take place in mobile trucks that will attend the various rounds of the real racing series.
The virtual world has become a more revered area for not just motorsports, but automakers, too. Last year, McLaren launched the "World's Fastest Gamer" competition to compete for a 1-year contract as the company's lead simulation driver. And Nissan's GT Academy program has seen numerous gamers turned into real racers.