The last several years have seen NASCAR experience a notable decline in viewership. The shift led the sport to embrace other avenues to grow the brand recognition and popularity. The latest venture involves a thrilling collaboration with an Esports giant.
NASCAR expands its brand to the Esports community
2020 was a challenging year for many reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s also opened the door to a new avenue for NASCAR to expand its reaching into the Esports community. With the drivers initially being unable to compete in races due to health and safety protocols, the sport embraced iRacing.
The transition to that allowed drivers to compete virtually against each other on an entertaining platform. The avenue allowed retired drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Bobby Labonte to compete again.
All that led to the creation of eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series due to the pandemic. It initially began as a one-off event but quickly became a weekly series.
The tremendous success of the league led NASCAR and iRacing to announce in back January that the series will return this year. With the sports’ immense success in that realm, it has led to another exciting new partnership.
NASCAR expands its brand with an exciting new partnership with popular Esports game
Over the last few years, NASCAR has increased its efforts toward expanding its brand.
One of those moves has seen them further embrace the video game scene to add a broader fan base to the sport. NASCAR is heading that route again with a unique partnership with Rocket League, a video game centered on cars playing soccer.
The pairing will see the popular video game release a NASCAR 2021 fan pack for fans to purchase starting at $4.99. The set includes nine cars across all three of the sports manufacturers of the vehicles (Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet). The pack will feature nine digital NASCAR team decals, player banners, a NASCAR/Rocket League decal, and Goodyear brand tires.
The racing teams involved are Stewart Haas Racing, 23XI Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Roush Fenway Racing.
The vehicles included represent drivers Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Erk Jones, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, and Kurt Busch.
Rocket League’s decision to head this route is part of a Season 3 update. According to The Esports Observer, the teams will not receive revenue on this first partnership, which is a multi-year deal.
The F1’s cars will become available at a later date in the season. Beyond that, it’s another avenue for NASCAR to garner a younger audience.
Bigger opportunities lie ahead
NASCAR’s continued embracement of the Esports world can do nothing but further expand its popularity.
It’s no secret that the sports’ popularity has declined in the last few years. A significant void developed after Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart all stepped into retirement. NASCAR may have an avenue ahead to recoup some of that lost interest through their Esports partnerships.
Phil Piliero, Psyonix’s vice president, recently outlined how the pairing with NASCAR will open the sport up to an entirely new wave of fans.
“For us, we’ve got some fast rocket-powered cars in our game, and NASCAR has a couple of fast cars out there on the track, so we’re always looking to bring in new partners and with them being the No. 1 motorsport in the U.S., it was just a natural fit to collaborate with them,” Piliero said.
“The real advantage for this one is letting fans of NASCAR and Rocket League celebrate and enjoy their favorite teams inside the game, and also introducing the huge fan base that’s in NASCAR to the game and the sport of Rocket League.”
There will be plenty more opportunities ahead for NASCAR to open up new doors in the Esports world.