The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series needs a big season.
It needs teams to be engaged on social media and in marketing efforts. It needs drivers who are equally engaged in the promotion of the series and who carry themselves in a positive manner.
But with the opening race of the season upon us, there are some things that may be impossible to address during the year.
The series needs teams to commit to multiple years to limit the amount of turnover we saw in the off-season when 25% of the grid was replaced with new outfits. The race lengths should be longer as they feel disappointingly short for what is the pinnacle of oval sim racing.
The prize pool, once impressive at $330,000 with $100,000 to the champion, needs to keep up with other sim racing events. Despite the purported growth of the series and interest in iRacing, the prize pool has not reflected that with the money remaining at the same level it was in 2020. For comparison, Formula 1’s eSports championship handed out $750,000 in prize money.
It’s not all gloom, however. The series’ production quality has increased dramatically in recent seasons and the championship finale at the NASCAR Hall of Fame last year was a significant milestone. iRacing as a platform remains stable and NASCAR is committed to having a presence in eSports and doing that with iRacing.
I don’t doubt that iRacing and eNASCAR can have a big season this year. In fact, I’m already seeing positive changes. The new teams seem committed to the series and drivers have been giving press and social media training at NASCAR headquarters to help them acclimatize to the landscape.
While simple, teams have begun to realize the usefulness of the press release. A once foreign concept for many in the series, some are beginning to understand the purpose they possess, particularly when trying to make news in a field where others have not made similar efforts.
The eNASCAR website is beginning to fill up with releases from teams like Elliott Sadler eSports announcing new sponsors and RISE eSports detailing its entry into the eNASCAR Qualifying iRacing Series. While the announcements may not be worthy of stopping the presses, their existence tells me that the teams in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series are making progress.
Teams are starting to look more structured such as the aforementioned RISE eSports which added Dylan “Mamba” Smith as its general manager and James Pike as its media representative. The Kansas City Pioneers, entering its first season in the series, has hired a new staff member to oversee the team’s efforts.
“We can’t wait to get the 14th season of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series started at Daytona,” iRacing president Tony Gardner said. “Every year, the series continues to take steps forward, and last year’s finale from the NASCAR Hall of Fame was the perfect example of just how far it’s come over the years. This year should be no exception, with so many new names expressing interest in taking part and a brand-new schedule.”
NASCAR remaining committed to the series is equally important.
“Interest in eNASCAR is at an all-time high and the competition in this year’s Coca-Cola iRacing should be stronger than ever with our championship drivers all returning and so many talented newcomers joining the field,” Ray Smith, NASCAR’s director of gaming and eSports, said.
With the off-season over, the window for large, structural change has likely closed. For now, I’m more than happy to shift my attention to the racing, but I’ll be equally interested in seeing if iRacing and NASCAR can continue to grow the series and implement positive changes in the ensuing off-season.
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