The postponement and/or cancellations of real world motorsport events for the next two months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted with several esports events being set up in their place, with The Race’s All-Star eSports Battle, Veloce Esports’ Not the Australian GP, and Podium eSports’ The Replacements 100 last week all proving to be a huge hit for the racing fans all around the world.
With more all-star exhibition races planned for this week, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series have also decided to enter the sim racing competitions as four EuroNASCAR drivers – defending champion Loris Hezemans, two-time champion Alon Day, last year’s Elite 2 runner-up Giorgio Maggi, and two-time Elite 2 podium finisher Alessandro Brigatti – will enter the “Campionato Italiano NASCAR” (CIN) sim racing championship as guest entries for the race at the virtual Watkins Glen in iRacing, scheduled to be held next Monday on 20:00 CET.
Monday’s virtual race at Watkins Glen was scheduled as the penultimate round of CIN’s 2019-20 season. Originally named the “M7 Help Volantes 110 at the Glen”, the event has been rebranded to the “NASCAR Whelen Euro Series 110 at the Glen” to reflect on Euro Series’ participation in the championship.
“I am very excited about joining the I-CIN for the upcoming CIN Cup Series race at Watkins Glen,” said defending series champion Loris Hezemans to euronascar.com. “So far Alon, Giorgio and I joined the training sessions and the competition from the front guys looks pretty good. It’s really nice that even in these difficult times we are able to still enjoy our passion for racing in some way and share it with the fans.”
The news of NWES drivers’ participation in Campionato Italiano NASCAR follows upon the lead set by the NASCAR drivers and personalities who collectively hosted last week’s The Replacements 100 at the virtual Atlanta Motor Speedway on iRacing. High profile names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bubba Wallace, William Byron, and Parker Kligerman all took part in The Replacements 100’s 100-lap race that was won by Team Penske spotter Josh Williams – unrelated to the DGM Racing driver with the same name.
Broadcasted by Podium eSports live on Twitch, the race was a huge success with more than 23,000 people tuning in to Twitch to see the race live and received an 81% Yes approval by the fans on Jeff Gluck’s “Was It a Good Race?” poll held after the race.
“We are going through hard times right now all over the world. I feel so sad to see motorsports events getting cancelled and postponed, but this is the reality and I am happy to see that Italians haven’t given up and they keep the flame of the passion alive,” said Alon Day to euronascar.com.
“I came into racing through simulators and racing virtually is the same for me as reality so all I know is that I will give my best to win everything I can. But more important than anything else right now, is to keep everybody safe and healthy so we can go back to the car as soon as possible.”
Dating back to 2002, Campionato Italiano NASCAR is the oldest sim racing league in Italy and the 2019-20 season is CIN’s third season of competition in iRacing. A total of 43 drivers have entered the 2019-20 season of CIN’s Cup Series season and with the Euro Series drivers officially joining the fray next Monday, the stakes for the CIN drivers will be increased by tenfold.
”It’s really exciting to be able to race against drivers coming from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, some of which also had real life experiences in NASCAR in the US. At the same time, it is also a great opportunity for all of us simracers. I can’t wait to be on track with them on Monday!” said Alessio Fabbri, three-time CIN champion, to euronascar.com.
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series have confirmed that they will continue explore opportunities for its drivers to take part in sim race competitions across Europe as we wait for the new start date of the actual 2020 season on 6-7 June at Brands Hatch.
In the meantime, NASCAR themselves have also recently announced that they will host an official sim racing exhibition series. Called the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, the series will feature an all-star field of 35 drivers from the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series. Big names such as Dale Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Denny Hamlin – including Euro Series alumni Myatt Snider – all will take part in the Invitational Series.
The first race of the series is scheduled to be held at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, broadcasted live on Fox Sports 1 with Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, and Larry McReynolds all will be commentating in sim racing for the first time in their broadcasting careers.
Disclaimer: All photos are courtesy of the respective sources.