IndyCar’s virtual racing will be televised beginning with Saturday’s iRacing event, which has been picked up by NBC Sports.
In this image taken from a video provided by iRacing IndyCar, IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood, foreground, collides with Alexander Rossi (27) during the early running of the American Red Cross Grand Prix virtual IndyCar auto race at Watkins Glen International, Saturday, March 28, 2020. (iRacing IndyCar via AP)
The debut virtual race last weekend drew 433,000 combined viewers to both IndyCar and iRacing’s online stream. Total viewers jumped to 600,000 when IndyCar tallied how many watched drivers’ social media feeds or gaming channels.
NASCAR has done well in its virtual racing series, setting records for viewership the last two weeks. Its Sunday virtual race that aired on some Fox affiliates and nationally on its cable channel drew 1.3 million viewers.
Tony Kanaan crashed out of the first race on the second lap.
NBC Sports is IndyCar’s broadcast partner but had declined to air the first iRacing event. Now it will use its booth of Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell to call the race at virtual Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
More than two dozen IndyCar drivers are expected to compete, including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, who did not take part in last week’s event. Sage Karam won the event at virtual Watkins Glen in New York.
NBC Sports first worked with iRacing last October when it aired the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Championship in a two-hour event live on NBCSN.
Several racing series have gone virtual during the shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. The iRacing platform gives drivers an opportunity to hone their skills in a realistic environment, as well as provide content to fans and showcase their teams and sponsors.