By Alanis King staff writer at Jalopnik
NASCAR teams are working on an online racing league where they would draft players to compete for a six-figure payout, according to a report from Sports Business Daily. The league would take place on iRacing, a subscription simulator that even professional drivers practice on, and likely be broadcast online.
Sports Business Daily reports that Rob Kauffman, a chairperson for the Race Team Alliance that acts in the interests of NASCAR teams, said the online league is in the works. The report didn’t say how many races the league would have, and it also hasn’t been decided whether they’ll be on weekdays or on race weekends.
There were no details on drafting players for the league—whether it would be by players’ iRatings or whether qualifying would be an entire competition in itself—or on the breakdown of that six-figure payout. Those six figures could be a lot of things: a payout to the person who wins the league’s title, the amount of money given across the top finishers in the championship, the overall payout across all of the races, and so on. Sports Business Daily didn’t specify.
The report did, however, say some current NASCAR drivers could participate in the league. Here’s what we do know about it all, from Sports Business Daily:
Under the business plan being drawn up, teams will commit to a six-figure payout for the first tournament and are planning to hold a draft where all chartered outfits will pick up the most skilled players, who will then represent them in competition. Each chartered car from teams in the RTA, of which there are 30, will receive a franchise. Cars will likely carry the same paint schemes as their actual team, providing a value-add to sponsors. The plan is to stream the races online, though distribution is still being determined. Options would include NASCAR.com or even possibly Motorsport.com.
When the tournaments will be held is still being planned, but options would range from holding them in the middle of the week to possibly around a race weekend.
This mimics what other professional racing series are getting into as well: using a simulator to find talented drivers, which is where 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion William Byron learned how to drive in the first place. The FIA went the same route two years ago, when it partnered with Gran Turismo Sportto allow gameplay to count toward a racing license.
Simulators are a much cheaper way of learning how to drive a race car, and they open up the sport to more people than just the ones who have enough money to go out and wreck a car every weekend. Recognition from top sanctioning bodies only makes them more legitimate, and maybe it’ll help break up the typical racing mold—wealthy and taking up the family hobby.