For those who enjoyed NASCAR’s iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which helped bridge a gap in the NASCAR action during the COVID-19 shut down in 2020, you’re in for a treat. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is set to return in 2021.
On Tuesday, NASCAR and iRacing announced a 10-race schedule in 2021, where real-life NASCAR Cup Series drivers will compete virtually. FOX Sports will provide the broadcast of the first half of the schedule on FS1, while NBC will cover the final five events.
“The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief digital officer. “This year the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend.”
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will kick off on select Wednesday nights beginning with March 24th, and it will include events at tracks that mirror the speedways on the real NASCAR Cup Series schedule, including the dirt race at Bristol, Talladega Superspeedway, Darlington Raceway and Circuit of the Americas, according to a release.
Television Schedule for the first-five 2021 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series events:
Wednesday, March 24 — Bristol Dirt — FS1, 8-9:30 PM ET
Wednesday, April 21 — Talladega — FS1, 7-8:30 PM ET
Wednesday, May 5 — Darlington — FS1, 8-9:30 PM ET
Wednesday, May 19 — Circuit of the Americas — FS1, 7-8:30 PM ET
Wednesday, June 2 — Track TBD — FS1, 8-9:30 PM ET
The Pro Invitational Series was unique, not only because it featured virtual NASCAR racing on television, but because it also offered a chance to shine a spotlight on underdog racers, who usually don’t have the level of equipment to compete for wins on the real-world NASCAR tracks.
Timmy Hill was an obvious star in season one of the Pro Invitational Series, while Garrett Smithley and others opened eyes as well. There were also appearances by retired legends like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
The lack of injury opens the door for potentially more of these types of appearances, you’d imagine, in 2021.