Following last year’s successful sim racing events, NASCAR has once again joined forces with iRacing to recreate the Pro Invitational Series.
Last year’s events took place during the coronavirus pandemic’s halt on sporting events. Many series, including Formula One, IndyCar and Le Mans also held their own virtual events as there was a wait for the return to racing. NASCAR’s iRacing endeavours were pretty successful, boasting some of the top US network television ratings for esports – although both Le Mans Virtual and F1 boast overall higher global figures.
This new iteration of the series is slated to “compliment” NASCAR’s real-life racing schedule that will take place mid-week. Only the first five race dates have been announced so far, and are “designed primarily to preview the upcoming weekend’s ‘real life’ race” – you can see the schedule so far at the bottom of this page.
It isn’t yet known which drivers will turn up for the series. Last year saw the majority of the NASCAR Cup Series drivers take part, with a number of drivers from the Xfinity and Truck series supporting as required.
Last year’s events weren’t without controversy. Bubba Wallace lost a sponsor after “rage quitting” following an incident with fellow Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer.
There was another iRacing incident involving Kyle Larson and a racial slur, outside of the Pro Invitational series, that resulting in him losing his “real-world” seat and being sent to “sensitivity training” by NASCAR. He was allowed to return by NASCAR for this year’s season but was “suspended indefinitely” by iRacing so it remains to be seen whether he’ll be allowed to take part.
Of the races announced so far, the one that catches our eye is the visit to Texas. The Circuit of the Americas road course will be the first time that NASCAR visits the facility best known for Formula 1 so the Pro Invitational will serve as a prelude to the real thing. This release also (essentially) confirms that Bristol will receive an update to allow the cars on a dirt surface prior to the race on the 24th March.
We’re also intrigued by race five’s “TBC” – maybe there is a new track coming to the iRacing service?
The races are yet again due to be broadcast on television and will be hosted on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) on Wednesday nights.
2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Schedule (First Five Races)
|Wednesday, March 24||Bristol – Dirt||FS1||8-9:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday, April 21||Talladega||FS1||7-8:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday, May 5||Darlington||FS1||8-9:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday, May 19||COTA||FS1||7-8:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday, June 2||Track-TBD||FS1||8-9:30 p.m.|
Only half of the race dates have been announced so far, the remaining events will be announced “at a later date”.
It’s not yet known if we’ll be able to watch live on digital channels such as YouTube, Facebook or Twitch.
Will you be watching? Let us know what you think about the return of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.