DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — More than 1,000 miles of racing will take place at Daytona International Speedway leading up to the Daytona 500. There is a race happening outside the racetrack that fans are taking part in that gives them a feeling of what it’s like to be a NASCAR driver.
The Coca-Cola iRacing eNASCAR Arcade is stationed right outside the main grandstand. Of course, you’ll find your typical handheld controller games on-site, but fans can also be a virtual NASCAR driver.
There are four iRacing rigs that are set up, giving fans an experience of what it is like to drive a racecar at Daytona. Fans have the opportunity to race virtual trucks on Friday, Xfinity cars on Saturday, and Cup cars on Sunday.
“For fans, we feel like it’s a cool way for them to experience the race before getting into the race. Now they know what the drivers are experiencing before they go into turn one or coming out of turn four,” said Ray Smith from eNASCAR.
“They have a better understanding and hopefully what happens here before the race enhances what happens in the race for them,” explained Smith.
Setting up the arcade is a race within itself. Once the semi-truck arrives, 15 people work for five to six hours putting things together. It’s something they will do multiple times this season as the arcade is scheduled to stop at 17 races.
The same people who set up the arcade also work in the control room throughout the weekend. The control room is where the crew can watch fans race and stream the race onto a big screen high atop the arcade stage.
Real NASCAR drivers often stop by. At Daytona, it was William Byron who hosted a question and answer session on Saturday. Byron is a well-known NASCAR driver who also races weekly on the iRacing platform.
iRacing is the official simulation used by NASCAR.
“Our drivers use it as a tutorial tool. Our fans use it as a way of gaming and it’s in a way changing to how you get your start in the racing world,” said Smith eNASCAR has created a college series that is available to 500 schools nationwide. The fastest drivers are eligible for $50,000 in scholarships.