Richmond Raceway has no desire to just be one of the premier short tracks in the country – they want to engage and dominate in the world of competitive gaming, too.
Earlier today, Richmond Raceway announced it has formed an inaugural iRacing team. The group of six, branded the CHAOS CREW, will compete in the 2018 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series beginning on Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. ET and broadcast live on iRacing Live.
The eMotorsports athletes are Marcus Richardson, Nick Ottinger, Jimmy Mullis, Logan Clampitt, and Brian Schoenburg. The sixth member will be announced on Feb. 12. The NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series is officially sanctioned by NASCAR.
Richmond is now the first track to sponsor a team in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series.
“When you look at the engagement that the Joe Gibbs Racing Off-Season Action Series had his past December and January, you had to be impressed. When we tuned in to that content, it was entertaining,” said Richmond Vice President of Marketing and Communications Mike Waddell on the track getting into iRacing.
“As we looked deeper into what NASCAR and iRacing had built with the PEAK Antifreeze Series, our play was to engage some of the eMotorsports athletes and help them tell their stories, promote their craft, and show them that Richmond Raceway would be a place that could be ‘the place’ for sim racers as eSports booms forward. In putting together the CHAOS CREW, we have been blown away by the commitment these athletes put into their careers. The stories behind these drivers are inspiring, as fans will see as we share them over the coming season.”
If Darlington Raceway is NASCAR’s throwback track, Richmond wants to be the destination for eSports, and the move into iRacing follows a series of announcements made by Richmond in hopes of regularly engaging fans throughout the racing season.
eSports has become a popular competitive online gaming venture, and Richmond has already formed Richmond Raceway eSports and partnered with 704Games – the official licensee of NASCAR video games – to hold weekly competitions and other events. Richmond Raceway eSports will hold its virtual season from Feb. 11 to Nov. 18.
Richmond believes eyes could be brought to both NASCAR and its track through eMotorsports. Younger fans as well as individuals in secondary schools, area colleges and universities use competitive gaming for areas other than driving, such as developing crew chiefs and technical advisors for setups.
Richmond has also invested in a two-seat, in-car driving simulator for 2018 that debuted at the NASCAR Hall of Fame last month during NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day. The simulator runs iRacing and allows fans to not only turn laps at Richmond, but 79 other tracks and select Racing Virginia tracks.
Racing Virginia is an unprecedented collaboration among Virginia’s motorsports venues established by Richmond Raceway in the spring of 2017. It launched as a digital platform, racingvirginia.com, with the mission to promote racing at the grassroots level along with more than 25 motorsports venues in the state. The website shares exclusive news and information from Virginia tracks including a master schedule of racing events, weekly columns by Randy Hallman and Joe Moore, motorsports athlete bio pages, social channels and more. The platform has expanded with a podcast, shared outbound events and marketing efforts, youth initiative Team Racing Virginia, and even held its first Racing Virginia Congress with track executives last week in Richmond.
“The goals of Richmond Raceway eSports are three-fold,” said Waddell. “To engage a group of people who are interested in sim racing and get them out to the track for a NASCAR event. Two, capture the imagination of students with talents in the STEM curriculum and help them learn more about NASCAR, and get out to the Raceway for one of our events and tune into races on television or MRN Radio. And three, establish Richmond Raceway as the innovators for eSports through all of the above.”
With Richmond also going through a $30 million infield redevelopment project, Richmond Raceway Reimagined, to be completed by the fall, the track is working with groups such as Virginia Tourism Corporation and Richmond Region Tourism to bring eSports events to what Waddell calls the “Southern Capital of Cool,” Richmond, Virginia.
“We have a great culture in RVA that when people learn more about it, they are going to want to be a part of it,” Waddell said.