We are in an unprecedented time in our country and in most of the countries around the world. Most of us have never been through anything like what we are going through in our lives. Racing has always been there for us. Sure, races have been delayed or canceled but never has an entire season been at risk! Just as the seasons for all the major series to really get going, a major pandemic has us all shut in our homes with nothing to do but watch old movies, old races or the new virtual races being broadcast.
The last anything close to this was right after 9/11 when everything was shut down for security reasons. I remember that my wife and I, though she wasn’t my wife just yet, had tickets to the September NASCAR race at Loudon, NH. It was going to be a fun date and her first NASCAR race. The race was one of the first sporting events to be canceled. NASCAR decided to run the race in November. It was the last race of 2001 and was won by Robbie Gordon.
The Indy 500 was postponed twice in it’s more than 100 year history. It took 2 years off during WW1 (1917 & 1918) and several years during WW2 (1942 to 1945). Then there was the Dakar rally that was canceled in 2008 due to concerns of a terror attack and the race was moved to South America between 2009 and 2019 before moving to Saudi Arabia for 2020. And of course races have been delayed for weather many times over the years but we are definitely into uncharted territory right now!
This pandemic has led to several series moving to virtual races to keep us all entertained and so the drivers can sharpen their skills in anticipation for the day soon that we can all return to normal. The World Endurance Championship was the first series to run a virtual race in place of the 12 Hours of Sebring race on the iRacing platform. The IndyCar series and NASCAR have now run several races on the virtual platform with the races being broadcast on network TV. The NASCAR races have drawn in an average of over 1 million viewers!
As a sim racing/virtual racing enthusiast, I think it is pretty cool that we are still able to watch our racing heroes battle it out on a virtual race track but it is not the same and has had it’s issues. The NASCAR and IndyCar iRacing races have been crash fests and one NASCAR driver lost a sponsor for quitting a race after getting wrecked.
It is not great but it is the best we have for right now. Sure, you can watch old races but you know who wins or you could watch races from other places but you won’t know the drivers or the makes of cars. I do like that this has brought attention to virtual racing and it has been fun for both the drivers and a lot fans but it is time to get back to the real thing! Let’s hope that this is over soon and it will all seem like a bad dream!