NASCAR: Off to the Races
After almost a year putting it together, NASCAR and the Race Team Alliance finally launched their new esports venture last week, the most significant move yet by the sport into the burgeoning space.
The eNASCAR Heat Pro League will be played on 704Games’ “NASCAR Heat 3” video game in 2019 and feature up to 16 actual race teams fielding spots for 32 drivers. The league will be novel in that this marks the first time that participants will officially represent NASCAR’s actual teams in esports competition.
Each team will field two drivers — one who will compete on PlayStation 4 and the other will compete on Xbox One. Participants will include all of NASCAR’s most well-known teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series — like Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske — plus Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team, JR Motorsports.
The league will hold a draft in early 2019 — potentially during Daytona’s Speedweeks — and will start a 16-race season in the spring that will wrap up during the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs. All races will be livestreamed on NASCAR.com and Motorsport.com, the latter of which became a major investor in 704Games earlier this year.
NASCAR has dabbled in esports for years including a pro league with the subscription-based iRacing simulator, but that league is aimed more toward real-life racers and doesn’t include the involvement and backing of NASCAR’s actual teams.
Not all of the 16 teams have signed up, but the industry is working to get all of them into the fold before the launch. The RTA consists of 12 NASCAR teams, but a handful of others are not members, including Wood Brothers Racing and Front Row Motorsports.
Colin Smith, the former CEO of Motorsport Network, consulted on the deal on behalf of 704Games and Motorsport Network.
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