NASCAR announced today the formation of a youth esports racing series, the first esports competition created to attract and identify young talent. The series will be hosted on iRacing, the world’s premier racing simulation platform. NASCAR’s youth esports series establishes an easily accessible entry point to real-world racing and provides young competitors with an unparalleled simulation experience on iRacing’s ultra-realistic software.
The youth series will be open to participants ages 13-16 worldwide. The inaugural 12-week season is slated to kick off in June on virtual renderings of iconic short tracks like Langley Speedway, The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The regular season, comprised of the first eight events, will be open to all participants. The 50 racers accumulating the most points over the regular season will qualify to compete in the four-week playoffs. The top 30 in points after the playoffs will advance to a final championship event at the iconic Martinsville Speedway. The season will include a mix of single and heat race formats. Participants can register today on NASCAR.com/iRacing.
NASCAR currently sanctions the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series, an esports series now in its ninth season and features the most elite oval sim-racers competing on virtual versions of NASCAR-sanctioned race tracks. The addition of a youth series on iRacing will provide driver’s seat experience for competitors looking to hone their talent, including those with professional racing aspirations.
“As we expand our presence in esports, NASCAR is uniquely positioned as the only sport that can develop skills transferable to real world competition," said Blake Davidson, NASCAR vice president of consumer innovation. “We’re excited to see the young, diverse and global talent pool this series attracts, especially as we cultivate our next generation of drivers."
William Byron, a rookie driving the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, started his racing career on iRacing in 2011 at 14 years old. In just two years on iRacing, Byron accumulated more than 100 wins and finished in the top five in an additional 203 races.
Now, only seven years later Byron is leading the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings in NASCAR’s top series, complementing a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship (2017), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship (2015), and Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2016) and Xfinity Series (2017).
“NASCAR has been at the forefront of competitive online racing for years and its enhanced involvement in esports will be even more evident through the launch of its youth esports series on iRacing," said Tony Gardner, iRacing president. “NASCAR drivers have used iRacing to accelerate their development beginning at a young age, as well as to hone their skills throughout their careers. We look forward to cheering on the alumni from the youth series when they compete at the highest levels of NASCAR in the years to come."