The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for sports fans to find content while everyone is social distancing. Fox Sports 1, however, has helped NASCAR fans continue to enjoy the sport through iRacing esports events. Over the last few weeks, the network has been airing iRacing competitions featuring real-life NASCAR drivers. Despite some early reservations, fans have been surprised to see just how much it feels like the real thing. In fact, it's getting so real that it's leading some racers to have some very real emotions during competitions. Such is the case with professional driver Bubba Wallace, who quit in the middle of a race after another driver intentionally ran into him.
While many fans have seen a bit of humor in Wallace's actions, his sponsor in the race, Blue-Emu, wasn't laughing. The sponsor dropped Wallace on Twitter as a direct result of his actions in the game, and his subsequent posts on social media following the incident. Some fans found the punishment a bit harsh, but it should be noted that drivers have two resets of their cars. Wallace could have used one and gotten right back in the race, and Blu-Emu's image would have remained part of the broadcast. Instead, the company was essentially paying Wallace for nothing.
It will be interesting to see what impact Wallace's actions will have on iRacing events, moving forward. If Wallace and other racers bash the iRacing format, or refuse to participate, it could result in fewer NASCAR viewers tuning in. However, some extra drama could also get more people to tune in each week, especially if there are real-world consequences for the way some racers choose to behave.
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was intentionally bumped in this past weekend's iRacing event, ragequit the game on national television and stream, and then got dropped by his sponsor after the race for doing so
esports are definitely sports now pic.twitter.com/XvCAq8eJnW— Rod 'keydaddy' Breslau (@Slasher) April 6, 2020
Either way, it will certainly be interesting to see how these iRacing broadcasts perform. The format could very well have a major impact on the perception of esports as a whole, but that could go either way, depending on how seriously the participants are willing to take it.
What do you think of Bubba Wallace's iRacing rage quit? Is his sponsor justified in dropping him over it? Let us know in the comments or share directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!