- Richmond Raceway has teamed up with the Virginia State University to leverage esports in popularizing motorsports
- The partnership will seek to attract a new generation of race fans as well as reach out to historically Black colleges
- Esports proved a worthy safety net for competitive NASCAR in 2020, and the organization is keen to keep the momentum going
Richmond Raceway has teamed up with Virginia State University as the popularity of competitive video gaming in NASCAR continues to grow.
Esports Finds New Foothold in NASCAR
When NASCAR had to take a temporary hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were disappointed. Many sports had to shutter activities at the time, though, but few have bounced back as well as NASCAR has. Thanks to SIM races' availability for years prior, the racing organization was able to channel this in photorealistic esports races.
Today, NASCAR is not driving away from its esports series's success, and if anything, Richmond Raceway has picked Virginia State University (VSU) to operate the track's dedicated esports team in what is a ground-breaking partnership.
With collegiate esports shaping up nicely in the United States, NASCAR is just one of the latest organizations to tap into the momentum of competitive video gaming and give students hands-on experience to popularize both esports and the mainstream racing experience.
The eNASCAR iRacing invitational series was a hit in 2020, generating millions of views, even though it fell a bit short of regular numbers. Richmond Raceway is presently sponsoring two drivers in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola Series, with Zack Novak and Jimmy Mullis representing the track. The momentum from last year has not died down.
Driving Innovation and Inclusion via Esports
Commenting on the partnership, VSU president Makola Abdullah said: “Virginia State University is proud to partner with Richmond Raceway for this pilot program. We're excited about the opportunity this will present our students.”
NASCAR is also looking to connect with historically Black colleges, as per the words of NASCAR Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Brandon Thompson. “As NASCAR continues to strengthen its diversity and inclusion platform, partnerships with schools like Virginia State University will exemplify our creative approach to reach the next generation of sports leaders,” Thompson added.
He was joined by his colleague, Richmond Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier, who said that the esports program is designed to attract a new generation of race fans. The partnership with VSU is a stepping stone for the future of NASCAR.