Sporting events were among the first event victims of the coronavirus shutdown, and the motor racing world has been hammered by the loss of ticket sales, sponsorship promotions, and more. Races everywhen began canceling as soon as it became clear that we were in the midst of a serious global event, which left drivers, teams, and fans to figure out how to best navigate the pause. For some, the answer has been to compete virtually on sim platforms like iRacing, and as a result, iRacing alone has seen its subscription base balloon by nearly 50 percent amidst nationwide stay-at-home orders.
Big-name professional drivers have signed on in a hurry, racing in televised events on major sports networks, and regular Joes are doing their part by streaming them on services like Twitch and YouTube. This pits drivers of various skill levels against one another, helping to salvage at least a bit of fan interaction that's been missing in 2020. Pro racing driver and The Drive contributor has even shared his own journey into sim racing—and let's just say that things got expensive pretty quickly.
Anthony Gardner, iRacing's chief financial officer, explained to Roadshow that in January, iRacing had around 110,000 active subscribers. A subscription is defined as people paying an $8 to $13 monthly fee to access the service. As of now, more than 50,000 new racers have joined, bringing iRacing’s active customer count to over 160,000.
Gardner later added that new signups are coming in eight times faster than usual, but the company hasn’t stopped trying to recruit more.
Part of that growth can be attributed to iRacing’s aggressive discounts for new members, which can reach up to 50 percent in some cases. Live race broadcasts from the platform haven’t hurt either, as plenty of life-like action and drama has unfolded in recent weeks. Whatever the reason, growth will likely stay strong for iRacing because there’s no clear end to the quarantine orders.
While full-blown simulators are awesome, you don't need a big rig to compete in iRacing. Yes, a proper setup certainly helps when you're driving against esports' elite, but many have made do with bargain-basement wheel and pedal combos, and even Xbox controllers. Heck, Jordan Taylor's crash during last weekend's race was so strong that even his high-dollar sim collapsed on itself.
We've reached out to iRacing for comment on the company's growth projections and will update this article when more information becomes available.
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