When the news of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Esports Series was first announced in my social media and email feeds last night, I was working on my “Breaking Down the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Provisional Entry List” article that have fallen behind schedule due to unexpected real-life stuffs that I had to work upon during the past few days.
With that article being finished just before I reached my planned sleep schedule for the day, I figured that I should wrote an article to cover the EuroNASCAR Esports Series on the following day. However, when I was opening Twitter for the first time earlier this morning, I discovered a rather interesting Tweet by The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck – the Tweet itself is a quote retweet on Motorsport.com’s Jim Utter’s Tweet on this – that brought me awareness of this controversial rule that I want to give my opinions on in today’s article.
As I was reading the official announcement article, I found out that one section of the announcement stands out from the rest. The following section reads (marked for emphasis):
“The best NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers will battle for this new Esports title and at the same time will score points for the real life NWES Teams Championship, making the EuroNASCAR Esports Series the first ever sim-racing series to impact a real life international racing championship.”
In the wake of eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series’ event at Bristol last weekend that brought in controversies such as Blue-Emu dropping their sponsorship on Bubba Wallace as a result of his rage quit early in the race and Daniel Suárez’s second disqualification in a row (which also led to the disqualification of Kyle Larson from the race due to his retaliation on Suárez), this controversial rule by Euro Series was met with mostly negative opinions from race fans.
The above-mentioned Tweet by Jeff Gluck says:
“If I’m reading this right, this is freaking stupid. I’m sorry, I’m all for eSports as some entertainment during this downtime. But having points from a virtual race count toward a real-life racing series is a terrible idea. Maybe I read it wrong. Hope so.”
Discussions that I found on social media sites such as Twitter, Reddit, and Discord brought in similar negative opinions, with the following quotes below being examples of the fans’ overall negative opinions on this rule.
- “Literally nobody in the sim racing community, or real life racing community, was asking for this. They have completely lost the plot in a desperate attempt to appear hip and with the times.” – Sim and late model racer Austin Ogonoski on Twitter.
- “Not everybody has access to iRacing, so some drivers are probably going to be unfairly disadvantaged. Imagine if somebody loses the championship by a few points because they don’t have a computer capable of running iRacing.” – An undisclosed user on the r/NASCAR Discord server.
- “Don’t get me wrong, I love that everyone is doing iRacing events and they are really enjoyable to watch. However, this is starting to get out of hand. I thought the whole point of doing these events was for entertainment and fun but it seems like they’re starting to be taken ridiculously serious.” – A comment excerpt on r/NASCAR’s thread on this.
There are some who expressed positive thoughts, however. One of them is Shepherd Racing Ventures driver Landon Cassill, who tweeted:
“Do I get flamed for saying that I think this is cool?”
Another undisclosed user on the r/NASCAR Discord server offers a different point of view on this topic. To this user, they suggest that:
“It’s going to be more difficult for the Euro season to start because of the different regulations in different countries. So, this could be away to get some ‘races’ in.”
With the fans’ opinion on this rule listed, I’m going to give my opinions on the situation that is currently unfolding.
Personally, I find this rule to be a bad idea. I’m fine with the idea of approaching sim racing more seriously for racing series’ all around the world and of course we don’t know yet on just how much points the teams can possibly earn from this Esports Series, but I consider the idea of integrating the results from an esports series into the real-life championship standings can led to possible implications that are implied on one of r/NASCAR Discord’s user opinion. I also find that this integration could lead the Teams Championship losing its status and integrity as one of the official championships awarded by the series on each season.
The integration also puts the teams on a considerable pressure, as this means that they are going to be pressured to participate in the series if they don’t want to lose the possibility of gaining extra championship points that can be vital later in the year.
In addition, not all drivers in the EuroNASCAR championship owns either a subscription to iRacing or a sim rig. For some, such as FEED Vict Racing’s primary owner-driver Jacques Villeneuve, they even had already expressed that they aren’t interested to take part in sim racing and criticized the usage of simulators in modern day racing.
The sim racing events that was held in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including the previous 3 sim races held by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, was held for one primary reason: entertainment. It’s supposed to be a way for race fans all around the world to keep themselves entertained during the very tough times the world is facing right now, yet by taking this too seriously, we will see profound negative effects such as the controversies with Wallace, Suárez, and Larson in the Pro Invitational Series.
With these points in mind, I’m imploring the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to reverse their position on this and discontinue the integration rule, as this has brought in a considerable amount of negative attention that could very much challenge the continued growth that the series is experiencing right now.
Should NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Team FJ wanted to continue their intentions to integrate EuroNASCAR with sim racing, I’m going to suggest that instead of integrating the Esports Series results into the real Teams Championship, make the Esports Series as a separate championship for the sim racers – allowing the pros to compete temporarily during the pandemic postponements or as one-off entries in the future seasons – where the winners of the series are allowed to test the EuroNASCAR stock cars during the annual Drivers Recruitment Program.
The idea I’m proposing is inspired by Polyphony Digital and Nissan’s highly successful Gran Turismo (GT) Academy. Participation in GT Academy has allowed drivers such as Lucas Ordóñez and Jann Mardenborough (pictured above) to make a highly successful careers in real-world motorsport despite their sim racing background.
Within the EuroNASCAR itself, Mishumotors driver Ben Creanor made impressions with several strong performances during the 2019 season despite being only 16 years old at the time, all thanks to his vast experience in sim racing prior to his participation in the series last year.
The idea I’m proposing, in theory, should allow for a better integration between the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and sim racing, an integration that would not hurt either the series themselves or the Teams Championship’s status to the race fans. Ultimately though, it is up to the series and Team FJ if they want to continue or to backtrack their decision with this controversial Teams Championship integration rule.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.