Wednesday night marked the start of Fox Sports 1’s Wednesday Night iRacing series that the television network decided to start during the COVID-19 crisis.
Featuring the World of Outlaws Sprint Car and Late Model series, the debut night of racing didn’t disappoint.
“We see the NASCAR stuff on Sunday’s and now with the Outlaws coming on board, (we are) getting to run sprint cars,” NASCAR driver Christopher Bell said on the FS1 broadcast after the race. “It’s really cool to see iRacing really capitalizing on this moment of everybody being at home. It gives us something to do and it’s really fun to race against competitive drivers.”
Bell was the winner of the night’s first feature event, a 35-lap sprint car race at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
As a driver who helped get the World of Outlaws and dirt racing started on the popular racing simulator, Bell took a lot of pride in winning on Wednesday.
“I’ve had the honor to work with the iRacing group and help get these things going a little bit when they first released the dirt,” Bell said on the broadcast. “So, it’s been a lot of fun to be a part of that.”
After the sprint cars ran, it was the World of Outlaws Late Models turn for a 50-lap main event.
A few drivers like NASCAR’s Kyle Larson took part in running both events. He finished in the top six in both races.
“If we were racing for points, I’d take that,” Larson said on the FS1 broadcast. “I had so much fun.”
Although Larson couldn’t get the job done, Trent Ivey was able to in his DirtVision.com late model car.
Ivey put on a couple of slide jobs going against Nick Stroupe for the lead to take the win to round out the night.
“I was racing Monday night and my computer blew up under green,” Ivey said on the FS1 broadcast. “I was on the outside pole with (Mike) McKinney, so I felt like this one owed me. I had a good time in the sprint cars. I’m super excited I can’t believe it.”
The racing was as real as it gets, at least for a simulator, and provided a lot of the same features that a regular World of Outlaws event would on television.
FS1 even brought in voice of the World of Outlaws Johnny Gibson to announce the famous, four-wide salute.
“It was so much fun to be a part of this and I think we showed a lot of people tonight what dirt track racing is all about,” Gibson said on the broadcast. “This was fun. I hope we get to do it again.”
The television station brought in the same crew to call the race as they have for the past two, televised, NASCAR iRacing events.
It works out in their favor that Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer both got their starts in dirt.
“I love dirt racing,” Gordon said on the broadcast. “Short tracks and grass roots racing are so important. It’s just cool to give these guys some air time and see this type of racing on Fox Sports 1. I loved it. Seeing the track change, (cars) sliding it sideways, banging off the wall, slidejobs… I don’t know. It just doesn’t get much better than that.”
Bowyer had similar things to say and agreed with the others that it was a big event for the dirt track community.
“As a dirt owner and coming from dirt and my background, I just appreciate the opportunity for this sport,” Bowyer said. “This is huge for dirt racing. This is a good opportunity for everybody involved, and a lot of fun for a fan.”
As the entirety of the country is directed to stay home in the midst of a crisis, iRacing has risen to the top of the sports entertainment world.
The previous two NASCAR events on FOX set records for being the most watched eSports event on television of all time. They were major successes.
Although we won’t have ratings for a few hours, this was no exception and it gave a lot of deserved exposure to the World of Outlaws.
“It’s just been really cool to see the evolution of iRacing,” Bell said. “I’ve been on this thing for so long, now. It was be a game. It was a lot of fun for all my friends and I to get on and race on, but I guess it’s kind of our job right now.”
There are two iRacing events scheduled for television later on in the week. The NTT Data IndyCar iRacing Series will take to Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for a race.
Not to mention, the NASCAR Cup iRacing Series will be on Fox’s national television for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
We’ll try and provide fans with as many updates as we can for these events. In the meantime, during the uneventful period, check out our hub of historical races as we look back at meaningful motorsports events.