Sim Racing Is Getting So Serious a NASCAR Driver Got Parked for Crashing
That and more from a weekend full of virtual motorsport action.
Even though we won't be seeing actual racing anytime soon, that doesn't mean we're totally out of luck. iRacing and other sim platforms have paired with the likes of NASCAR and more to broadcast virtual races from nearly every corner of the motorsport world. In fact, this past weekend was packed with action featuring some of the sport's biggest names. We caught the IndyCar results here, but there are a few other notable outcomes from the weekend. Let's take a look:
The Race All-Star Legends Trophy
Unsurprisingly, being a quick driver in real life does wonders for one’s esports career. Dario Franchitti, who amassed win after win in multiple series—including the Indy 500...three times—took the checkered flag in The Race's All-Star Legends Trophy event. The Scot grabbed the lead after Emanuele Pirro and Juan Pablo Montoya collided in the opening moments and was able to keep his position for the remainder of the 11-lap race. As a result, Franchitti beat out a stacked field that featured the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Helio Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan.
Each driver piloted a vintage Brabham BT44B F1 car for the sake of parity—in other words, completely unlike actual Formula 1 racing.
Timmy Hill won his 674th iRacing event at Sunday’s NASCAR Pro Invitational, which was held at a virtual version of Texas Motor Speedway. Hill’s sim experience paid off as he was able to challenge Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron in the closing laps to win the race on a bump-and-run. As a result, he also staved off a slew of experienced NASCAR pros including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished seventh, and Kurt Busch in eighth.
Meanwhile, Daniel Suarez was ordered to park his car after intentionally wrecking Ty Dillon. Who says iRacing isn't serious?
The race was broadcasted on Fox Sports following a well-received kickoff the week prior, and the next round is set to take place on Sunday, though the track is yet to be announced.
Alex Marquez won MotoGP’s Stay At Home Grand Prix, beating out Pecco Bagnaia and Maverick Vinales, who took second and third, respectively. The reigning Moto2 champion was able to consistently string solid laps together, though he admitted he wasn't as fast over a single lap as his rivals. Much of this comes down to the equipment they're using as there's no dedicated sim rig setup for MotoGP—only a controller, which can be challenging to say the least.
The race was MotoGP’s first virtual contest after canceling several events in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The next round is scheduled for Easter Sunday, April 12.
In the End
While there are still a few kinks to work out with these widely viewed sim events, the potential is there, especially as the drivers become more involved and the championships continue on.
It’s also interesting to see how each of the pro racers has chosen to set up their sim rigs at home. Money doesn’t buy skill or success in virtual racing, as the weekend’s NASCAR results illustrate. Timmy Hill, who had already started 1,677 virtual races before his win on Sunday, is a veteran of the platform by any measure. His setup includes a 12-year-old steering wheel strapped to a $75 desk that came from a local office store. The whole thing runs through a $1,400 laptop that he uses for everything from tax preparation to sending emails. On the other end of the spectrum, Denny Hamlin finished 25th using a $40,000 setup that includes a full custom racing seat, three monitors, and an elaborate pedal system.
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