The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series has seen an increase in teams with backgrounds in professional video gaming, as opposed to professional racing, join the series in recent years. The series’ latest entrant, the Kansas City Pioneers, are another example of that.
Through its experience at Kansas Speedway and its previous collaborative efforts with eNASCAR, the Pioneers were interested in expanding from traditional video games to NASCAR.
“We started off by building a relationship with eNASCAR and racing through the Kansas Speedway,” Eddie Dee, the Pioneers’ head of eSports said. “We did a lot of activations last year at the speedway that were really awesome and got to give us a real in-depth look of iRacing and the community and what it could potentially be about.
“As we built our relationship with the eNASCAR staff and continued to find more about iRacing it started to become a no-brainer for us to take part in something that is only going to continue to grow,” Dee explained.
The Pioneers join XSET, Spacestation Gaming, and the Charlotte Phoenix as eNASCAR teams that stem from non-racing backgrounds.
The group has been extremely active in the Kansas City community including helping to construct a video game lounge at the KC Boys & Girls Club and exposing children to the career possibilities gaming has to offer. They have also partnered with Kansas City Chiefs’ players Trey Smith and Andrew Wylie to help increase its outreach efforts.
Last year, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas proclaimed July 21 to be Pioneer Day in the city, in honor of the team’s founding. It previously partnered with the Kansas City Royals to host a pre-season practice event for one of its eSports teams at Kauffman Stadium.
Today is KC Pioneer Day in @KansasCity.
On the Mayor’s visit with @PioneersGG last year, he saw the many skills youth built while gaming.
Kansas City is full of champions and it’s clear we have a bright future in esports! pic.twitter.com/V45aHaXTfB
— Mayor Quinton Lucas (@MayorLucasKC) July 21, 2022
The team has signed Derek Justis and Wyatt Tinsley. It is not setting its goal too lofty for its first season of competition, instead hoping to see steady progress and increased community involvement.
“Honestly, I would say a win for us is growth,” Dee said. “Our biggest mission through this is to continue to learn more about iRacing and eNASCAR and the things that it has to offer and progress throughout the season.
“With us being the new team and not really having much of an opportunity to prove ourselves in different areas throughout previous seasons, we’re coming in fresh. We’re coming in with not a lot of background so us trying to slowly build with small wins and doing things little by little through the community is what will make us feel like this was worth it.”
The Pioneers have entered the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series 🏁
— Pioneers (@PioneersGG) January 13, 2023
Darius Boyd, whom the Pioneers brought on to lead its expansion into iRacing, said that eNASCAR first reached out for last year’s Kansas Speedway spring race and sought their advice on its eSports-related activations at the track. Boyd hopes those conversations can lead to the Pioneers becoming even more involved with eNASCAR’s at-track offerings.
“We’re getting in contact with some of the representatives from Kansas Speedway,” Boyd said. “We’re still figuring out what exactly we’re going to do but we wanted to have some keynote events there. Even when the races aren’t going on, bring some people out, and get some things going with our content creators.
“I think we have a pretty unique way through ourselves and our content team and our marketing agency to do a lot of cool, virtual, and in-real-life things.”
It took roughly six months for the team to join the series as it weighed whether or not it was the right fit for the organization.
“We honestly just wanted to take advantage of (having) as much time as we could and really work on just building the right relationships and connection within the space before we made any huge commitments,” Dee said. “I think through that, now we can all say we feel super-confident in the decisions we’ve made and we’re super excited for the future just due to all the information we’ve been able to gather throughout this time.”
The 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will begin on January 31 with The Clash at the LA Coliseum. The first points-paying race will be on February 14 from the virtual Daytona International Speedway.