Real world racing may be on hold due to COVID-19, but the digital side is showing no sign of slowing down.
As the major racing series cancel or postpone much of their calendar, they’re increasingly turning to sim racing to keep the viewers—and drivers—engaged. The move has thrust sim racing into the mainstream spotlight, leading to record viewership numbers. Having the real-world pros fighting it out on track against each other, as well as established sim racing experts, has been a welcome bit of fun in these uncertain times. A lighter mood is something we can all appreciate, right?
The digital revolution comes with its own packed weekend schedule. So we’ve rounded up the main events for this weekend and listed the important details here.
F1 is running Virtual Grands Prix in place of the real deal. This weekend was meant to be the first held in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. With that out of the picture—and not available in the current F1 2019 title—the digital circus is instead heading to Albert Park, home of the Australian Grand Prix. Five current F1 drivers will take part, including Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell.
When and Where: The action takes place on the traditional Sunday, April 5. All of the drivers will be competing remotely, with a commentating team live from the Gfinity Esports Arena in the UK. The show begins at 19:00 UTC, and will be available at F1.com in addition to the official F1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook pages.
America’s motorsport has taken the lead in these digital times, being first to broadcast on a major network. It will continue with this week’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which heads to Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers will come from the many NASCAR feeder series, including the Xfinity Series, truck series, ARCA and the Mexico series.
When and Where: The main event, the Food City Showdown, starts at 13:00 EST on Sunday, April 5. NASCAR is also bolstering the weekend with a new “Saturday Night Thunder” event the day before. You can check out Saturday’s racing online at enascar.com, while Sunday’s race will be available on Fox, FS1 and the Fox Sports App.
The other big open-wheel race series will run its second virtual event this weekend. Most of the current driver grid will take part, including the most successful driver: Scott Dixon. Last week’s winner, Sage Karam, will need to fight off Dixon, Josef Newgarden, and a total of 28 other drivers.
When and Where: IndyCar action gets underway Saturday, April 4 at 14:30 EST. Catch the action on NBC Sports Network, complete with the broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.