NASCAR races once more, Barefoot Hamlin wins Digital Homestead – CBS Detroit
The grandstands were full, Jimmie Johnson caused several wrecks, Denny Hamlin raced barefoot, and damaged cars were repaired at the push of a button – some virtual signs that NASCAR was sponsoring a rather unreal race.
NASCAR released the brakes on the real sports world suddenly stalled by the coronavirus and introduced the country to iRacing with some of the sport’s biggest stars. Hamlin, the three-time Daytona 500 winner, defeated Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final corner of the Homestead-Miami virtual speedway on Sunday to win the bizarre spectacle.
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“So that the community, the racing community, the NASCAR drivers come together and bring drivers to the racetrack at short notice, everyone is buying simulation equipment this week and last week to prepare for the event, so that everything comes together and has a great finish , I think it was definitely a success, “said Hamlin.
“IRacing got involved and emailed everyone saying, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about.’ NASCAR got in, television got in and said they’d be interested. But no one really spoke to the drivers about association and participation. It was all free will, and the exciting thing is that there were full-time cup boys out there willing to spend their time with it. “
It was Hamlin’s 31st iRacing win, where it was first spotted by Earnhardt, long before he made it to NASCAR. Hamlin was heavily involved in putting together Sunday’s fake race, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 and called up by his core team of Mike Joy and Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.
NASCAR has suspended racing until at least May 9th and with literally nothing else to do, the executives of the series and iRacing put together the first eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series in about a week. The first event was held in Homestead, where NASCAR was scheduled to race on Sunday before COVID-19 brought the sport to a standstill.
This was a unique competition for most of the home viewers and ended with a well-known winner.
It could serve as a petri dish for other sports to try out the whole gamer thing. The classic games that were televised on weekends are getting old fast, and broadcasters are desperate for something new until the sport resumes.
The drivers immediately showed interest – even those with little or no experience in simulator racing. Some rushed to buy “rigs” to get into the field of 35 riders, and the social media show-and-tell of the setups made the event a fun build-up.
Hamlin, who raced barefoot on an elaborate rig in the living room of his North Carolina home, had said earlier this week he would donate $ 5,000 to COVID-19 families in Miami if he won the race, and Kevin Harvick said he would with Hamlin’s promise. Hamlin also set the odds for the race and was instrumental in a group chat among the participants.
Ranked one of the best iRacers in the world, Truck Series driver Ty Majeski competed from a computer set on a wooden table with a steering wheel attached. Kyle Larson said he spent $ 6,800 building his rig, while many of the lesser-known riders who use iRacing to improve their skills can build a setup for a few hundred dollars. All a competitor needs is a chair, computer, steering wheel, and pedals, but NASCAR’s superstars have spent a lot more to outsmart their simulators.
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Hamlin estimated the cost of his rig at over $ 40,000 – but defended the price because his simulator has motion capabilities – and said better gear made no difference. He also said he walked barefoot because “I like to feel the pedals”.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson, who practiced sports car and IndyCar racing on the simulator in his garage, competed from a device that seemed better suited to one of those cars than his virtual # 48 Chevrolet. But Johnson turned out to be early on than less than Elite iRacer with a weird crash that made his car seem like a ping pong ball off the wall and several other cars.
“I hope everyone enjoyed that today. I clearly have a lot to learn, ”said Johnson.
Among those hit by Johnson was Alex Bowman, Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports and one of the highly rated computer racing drivers. But drivers can reset to “fix” the damage and continue.
“Don’t worry, my virtual crew used a quick fix and it’s as good as new. I also eat an uncrustable one, ”Bowman tweeted after Johnson destroyed it. “And yes, I still tweet and fake driving.”
The drivers took the event seriously, and most took the opportunity to present their sponsor – Landon Cassill even hired a sponsor specifically for the event – and to satisfy the fans’ hunger for racing. Many recruited their real spotters and crew chiefs to help. Bowman’s real crew chief Greg Ives and spotter Kevin Hamlin watched the event from home in team shirts and gave Bowman advice.
Many of the younger NASCAR drivers are world-class iRacers and use the game to work on their craft. The iRacing game is as close to reality as any professional sport can get because of the granular details and precise rendering of every NASCAR track. The venues are laser scanned to capture the bumps and imperfections in the asphalt as well as duplicating the grandstands and billboards and pit lane.
The race, called Dixie Vodka 150, led over 100 laps around the virtual 2.4 km long Homestead oval. Dixie Vodka said it will donate $ 10,000 to the NASCAR Foundation, which centralizes charitable donations in the NASCAR industry to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional iRacing drivers – NASCAR hosts a league – can create their own setups, but a fixed setup has been installed for Sunday’s event.
The event gave NASCAR the opportunity to showcase its esports offering on live television while providing entertainment at a time when most of the world is locked in for fear of the coronavirus spreading.
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