Professional drivers from NASCAR, INDYCAR, NHRA, USAC and a host of other motorsports sanctioning bodies competed last Sunday in World Wide Technology Raceway’s inaugural iRacing event, the Bommarito Automotive Group Throwback 500. The race was managed by the Elite Racing League (@EliteRacing_), and was broadcast free of charge on Speed51.com.
The iRacing-on-TV concept has been popular with fans as they await the start – or resumption – of their favorite auto racing series.
"We were very pleased with the results of the first event and it’s a terrific starting point as we develop the World Wide Technology Raceway eSports League,’ said Chris Blair, WWTR’s Executive Vice President and General Manager. "The response from the racing community was amazing and to be able to watch the stars of so many racing series competing against each other at our virtual track shows you how our industry can pull together. While there have been other events in recent weeks, our race raised the bar by showcasing world champions. We fully engaged the best from the traditional motorsports world as well the top level of eSports racing."
The next WWTR eSports event will be fine-tuned to make it more enjoyable for participants and viewers alike.
"In the future, we are going to condense these professional all-star events so they aren’t as long and we’ll limit the starting field to hopefully lessen the amount of caution periods," Blair continued. "There’s some tremendous entertainment potential and we need to remain fluid as it evolves.
"We’ve been working for some time to dig deeper into eSports to broaden the appeal of racing to a younger audience. Our WWTR eSports League is developing multiple tiers of player options to include standard gaming consoles, such as X-Box, to the more advanced, PC-based racing programs such as iRacing. We want to offer a variety to develop young gamers into racers and then provide a ladder system to professional eSports."
Australian sports car driver Scott Andrews took on a stout field of professional stock car and open wheel drivers Sunday to claim victory in the Bommarito Automotive Group Throwback 500. The 2015 U.S. F1600 champion is sort of a sim racing veteran.
"I’ve been sim racing on and off for over a decade," said Andrews, who now is based in Miami. "I started in my later karting years, (jokingly) back when you could get by with a Logitech steering wheel. I moved to the U.S. eight years ago and have been racing sporadically, using friends’ equipment. I haven’t had my own (sim racing rig) until five days ago. Sim racing like this at home keeps you sharp."
Andrews was confident going into Sunday’s race against the likes of longtime iRacers Alexander Rossi, Ron Capps, Spencer Boyd, Ty Gibbs and Austin Blair.
"I knew I’d be competitive. It’s all about strategy, to be there at the end. I was stoked to make that late-race pass and I was very satisfied and happy to get the win."
Bommarito Automotive Group Throwback 500 (iRacing) official finish: 1. Scott Andrews, 2. Ryan Gavel, 3. Conor Daly, 4. Simon Sikes, 5. Chad Frankenfield, 6. James Davison, 7. Vincent Isabella, 8. Jacob Abel, 9. Damien Leininger, 10. Austin Blair, 11. John Poole III, 12. Josh Bilicki, 13. Carson Hocevar, 14. Austin Wayne Self, 15. Shawn Langdon, 16. Ty Gibbs, 17. Graham Rahal, 18. Colton Herta, 19. Alexander Rossi, 20. Colin Mullan, 21. Mark Rebilas, 22. Jordan Anderson, 23. Cabot Bigham, 24. Braden Eves, 25. Daltyn England, 26. Santino Ferrucci, 27. Garrett Smithley, 28. Robert Megennis, 29. Ron Capps, 30. Tim Doyle, 31. Tyler Ankrum, Gabby Chaves, 33. Stefan Wilson.
— World Wide Technology Raceway —