From the world-renowned Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit to the digital universe, V8 Supercars’ entry into esports has been an outstanding example of how to pivot in trying times.
The forced shutdown of the sporting and entertainment industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced clubs, orgs and teams to think outside their comfort zone, with many turning to esports to continue to engage fans around the world.
Over the course of ten weeks, the V8 Supercars professional drivers raced against each other with the world watching, with one catch – they were driving simulators from their own homes in the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries. Although it was a whole new world to a lot of these elite drivers, for many viewers it felt like Supercars was actually back on their screens at home.
James Cowan, Esports Technical and Production Advisor for the event, gave some insight into the overall product and his involvement with the competition.
“The BP Supercars All Stars Eseries was Supercars’ response to the global halt in all race activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to remain on TV and honour sponsors and media commitments. All 25 drivers involved in the main series partook, and was key to the success of the series. The series proved to be one of the most successful sim-racing products ever, and has done wonders for Supercars in reaching new demographics and attracting new fans across the world.”
“I was tasked with integrating the iRacing esports product into the Supercars broadcast. Being the iRacing lead on this project has meant that across the life of the series, I was responsible for a broad spectrum of tasks related to both the league operations, and broadcast of the series. Things moved quite quickly, from my initial conversations, to literally being pulled into a full Supercars teams and stakeholders meeting the following day. The series’ success really is a testament to the level of passion and professionalism of the Supercars Media and broadcast team.” – James Cowan, Esports Technical and Production Advisor for the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries.
For the a-typical Supercars fan, watching the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries was a first glimpse of sim-racing. But as we in the industry know, sim-racing is a growing genre in the esports industry, with gamers from all around the world competing week to week.
Jake Burton, an aspiring real life Supercars driver and one of Perth’s top sim-racing competitors, spoke about the growth of sim-racing and the impact it has provided for those in a more traditional racing landscape.
“While the COVID crisis has had devastating effects across the world, it has had a positive effect on the sim racing scene. Spectator sports globally have been put on hold and we are very fortunate as sim racers to have an esport that closely resembles what the ‘real’ variant of that sport is. With many real life motorsport heroes competing in sim racing, the fans of these drivers, their teams and their sport have had their attention drawn to sim racing where they might not have before, and that’s brought huge growth to our Esport.”
“Motorsport is one of the cruelest sports in the world. You need a huge amount of luck and money to make it to the top, and I think sim racing is fantastic for aspiring race drivers like me, as it provides an opportunity to showcase our talent without the millions of dollars to even get that chance. So from a competitors perspective, the impact sim-racing has provided is fantastic.
“Real life racing is tied down by sponsorship negotiations, time, teams etc, so we don’t get to see Formula 1 drivers race against Supercars drivers for example, but in the sim, this is easily possible at the click of a button. Seeing relationships develop between guys like F1 star Max Verstappen and Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, fans really enjoy it and it helps unite the wider motorsport community, and something like this just wouldn’t be possible without sim racing,” – Jake Burton, Perth based sim-racer.
Another of Perth’s top sim-racing competitors, Cian Butler, spoke to us about sim-racing, it’s rapid growth around the world and his overall thoughts on the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries.
“For a long time now, virtual racing has struggled to gain as high an acumen among real life motorsport fans, often being cited as just some people playing a game. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the consistent search to have better and better software and equipment has meant that in some instances, it hasn’t been as accessible to a newcomer as other esports such as fortnite. However, through global circumstances, namely the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the apprehensions of both sides have fallen away.”
“As the world came grinding to a halt, with sporting events globally being postponed or cancelled to deal with pandemic, virtual platforms were poised to give the fans exactly what they wanted, racing.”
“With the BP Supercars series on iRacing, a platform many (including myself) consider to be the upper echelon of the sim racing ecosystem, it provided yet another platform for the virtual racer to shine.”
“Though I’ve only dabbled in iRacing, it’s something I’ve always set my sights on and understood as the place to be when it comes to racing in the virtual world. It’s amazing how it’s progressed over the years with the constant updates, tweaks, and patches, and with no end in sight for its continued support and development, I’m sure we can count on many more amazing years of racing on its behalf.” – Cian Butler, Perth based sim-racer.
At Pentanet.GG, we see sim-racing as beneficial to the elite racers of the traditional racing world and the elite racers of the esports industry. Seeing elite traditional sporting organisations like Supercars and F1 embracing esports during the COVID-19 pandemic is a strong beacon of acceptance for our industry.
Our PGG team is passionate about bridging the gap between traditional and esports. We hope the new esports fans have enjoyed dipping their toes into sim-racing, and stick around once the rubber is back on the road!
If you’re a Perth based sim-racing competitor, we invite you to register your interest with us via our website or otherwise jump in our Discord to get involved with the conversations in the WA esports local scene.
We are WA’s own esports platform, creating real opportunities for gamers to work towards a professional career. It doesn’t matter what age, skill level, or interest – there’s a game for everyone!
Pentanet.GG launched into the Australian esports scene in 2020, competing in Oceanic Pro League (Pentanet.GG) and Oceanic Challenger Series (PGG.RISE).
Bringing Perth’s internet up to speed, Pentanet delivers next-generation internet speeds backed by local service and support from the company’s headquarters in Perth.
Pentanet owns and operates Perth’s largest Fixed Wireless network consisting of approximately 300km of dark fibre connecting multiple strategic metro tower locations. Delivering high speed internet to over 80% of the Perth metro area, Pentanet is proudly WA’s top-rated internet service provider.