Every Monday, a group of NASCAR drivers, crew members, and motorsports journalists come together for an intense competition of virtual stock car racing. Monday Night Racing is entering its second year as one of the most popular sim racing competitions in the world. The Monday Night Racing league is symbolic of a shift occurring in the motorsports realm, giving up-and-coming drivers (and even champions like Kyle Busch) extra opportunities to have fan interaction and promote their sponsors. Not only can drivers add these leagues to their sponsorship decks that they send to potential partners, but it also helps them prepare for a given race weekend.
“Monday Night Racing put out a letter on Twitter asking drivers in the motorsports community (NASCAR drivers, crew members, media members) to join a league where we could all come together to race and be sort of a virtual networking league in motorsports,” said Ford Martin, Co-Founder of Monday Night Racing. “After each race went by using my connections through motorsports, each season that went by it became more attractive to younger and retired NASCAR drivers to help grow it.”
Monday Night Racing is one of several competitive leagues that formed during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which saw the creation of the sanctioning body itself from the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Ever since, drivers and sponsors alike have been excited to get involved in additional programming as a way to boost their engagement. Monday Night Racing is so popular now that Busch’s Rowdy Energy drink is the title sponsor of the series’ top division. Market Rebellion, which is a partner of Alpha Prime Racing in the Xfinity Series, sponsored the series’ most recent race and plans to increase its support in 2022.
Each race is seen by more than 45,000 fans, with the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mario Andretti, Ryan Vargas, Rajah Caruth, and more competing in the Monday evening spectacle.
NASCAR is seeing a rise in interest from college students thanks to its own esports leagues, such as the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. NASCAR’s virtual racing became increasingly popular in 2021, with 10.9 million total minutes watched on live streams, including a 72% year-over-year increase in average minutes watched.
(All information was provided by Forbes)