March 24th: Auto Racing Off To A Racing Esports Start

How did 903K viewers end up watching esports racing?

Right now Formula1 and Nascar are jumping in to esports fast and furiously, partially because racing simulators have always been very good - and are providing a great stepping stone for the drivers and fans.

For example, on March 15th, Lando Norris, a Formula 1 star - the 2019 F1 Rookie of the year, took to streaming when the Grand Prix was canceled. He had been a semi-regular streamer, while actually racing, and averaged around 2,000 viewers. Within minutes of Lando starting the stream “Not the AUS GP,” hosted by Velos Esports, he had 18,000 viewers, within 30 minutes he had cracked the 24,233 record for F1 on Twitch, and within 90 minutes, it was over 70,000 viewers. The fans were totally supporting him. He joked, “I’m more nervous now, then when I drive the actual car!,” He is luring other racers to the platform, and they are bringing followers. Velos is looking forward to Lanos being joined by Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.

A week later, on Sunday, March 22nd, Velos Co-produced with MotorSport Games, “Not the Bahrain GP,” – an official F12019 game, developed by Codemasters, which launched to a cumulative peak audience of more than 600,000. Despite Lando’s crashing in the first round, and disconnecting, he managed to keep his viewers entertained by telephoning other drivers while getting his system back up and finished fifth overall, while being followed by more than 100,000 viewers. One of his friends suggested that he turn the computer off and back on.

The next day, March 23rd, Team Redline held the inaugural sim racing series – “Real Racers Never Quit,” featuring Max Verstappen (who refused the F1 2019 – because it is not his game), Lando Norris and many other racing drivers from different classes. Drivers race in 6 races each week with 2 qualifying laps and a –minute racing format. The game randomly selects a track and car, 5 minutes before each race. Max Verstappen won.

Simultaneously, NASCAR worked Fox Sports, teams and drivers putting together their version of simulated racing, called the Pro Invitational Series that also launched on Sunday, March 22nd. It commanded the number 1 trending topic on Twitter for almost three hours - from mid-race to well after it was finished. Sports Business reported that, “winner Denny Hamlin, who edged out the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a last-lap, last-turn pass, said he did more media interviews and appearances for Sunday’s win than he does for a normal race, aside from his two Daytona 500 victories.”  Fox reported there were 903 thousand viewers of the event.

Next week, both NASCAR and Formula 1 will return with their virtual or esports series with talent and significant followers.
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The racers have significant followers which is helping the transition to esports. The existing esports audiences are also enjoying the greater access and regularity with which the competitions are now being held. Esports and racing will never be the same again. This is a win/win.   Esports fans are writing "The NASCAR stars are playing. That’s the entire point of this. These aren’t esport pros but actual real life pros. It's really cool."   and Racing fans are posting "Almost as much fun as being at a race."