NASCAR and iRacing will utilize the Next Gen car for the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series at Darlington on Wednesday. The race will follow the public unveiling of the cars earlier in the day.
“The Next Gen car has been designed in collaboration with NASCAR, its OEMs — Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota — and teams in order to boost competition,” NASCAR said in a statement announcing the news. “The car has been developed and tested extensively, but Wednesday night’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series race will mark the first time a full field of drivers have competed in the fully stylized cars.”
Given the prominence of sim racing and the collaboration between NASCAR and iRacing, it was practically a guarantee that the Next Gen cars would be available on the service at some point. For the cars to be race-ready in the simulator on the day of their public unveiling, however, is a strong indication of the level of cooperation between NASCAR, the OEMs, and iRacing.
When the cars will be available to the general public on iRacing is not yet known. NASCAR and iRacing employed a similar tactic when the service, in partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr, resurrected North Wilkesboro Speedway in the virtual world. That content was also showcased by the pro drivers before becoming available for the public.
Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte, along with fan-vote winner Jesse Iwuji, will join a field NASCAR Cup Series drivers for the race on Wednesday.