Our on-line Editor Darin Mandy asked if there were any positives coming from COVID for Motorsport after he noticed Nine News actually running Supercars stories of the eSeries along with footage, and almost a minute long story. Something almost unheard of when the “real” racing is on. The opinion piece below comes from our glossy Velocity magazine Editor John Morris.
Amidst the confusion and suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been challenged to think of some positives that have emerged from the social distancing, lockdowns, isolations and cancellations of motorsport activity across the globe.
For one, my family are not distressed in the slightest, to see me at home for the longest continuous period of time in my family’s 18 year history. While we are blessed to also enjoy good health to this point, it has also provided the opportunity to finally attack projects around the house that had gathered cobwebs as they cued on the perennial back burner.
From the events of Black Friday at the Australian Grand Prix to the subsequent closure of public gatherings as social distancing became the buzz word of 2020, motorsport events have fallen like dominoes as all levels of government implement strategies to limit the footprint of the virus.
While sport in general has relied upon an endless series of re-runs and ‘best of’ broadcasts, the motorsport industry has had a ‘virtual’ option to supplement the vast library of highlights from years gone by.
From arcade based beginnings, the home entertainment revolution saw the keyboards pushed aside for pedals and steering wheels, while Mario Kart gave way to serious Grand Prix Racing. iRacing brought a level of reality into homes often beyond the limits of the standard home computer. Manufacturers followed with purport built simulator rigs and multi screen viewing to a standard previously only seen on professional set ups.
Simworx, Velocity’s SIM racing partner and our Supercars Category Sponsor is at the cutting edge in Australian racing rigs, with a number of Supercar teams and drivers using their products in the newly formed E-Series racing.
As the stars of most sporting pursuits remained in hibernation, our motorsport heroes can be seen battling with the world’s best on an almost weekly basis. While it may not fill the void for the diehard fan, the broadcasting of these races through internet streaming has introduced racing to a whole new generation of fan. It has also bridged the gap between the real and virtual motorsports world. The Supercar E-Series in particular has featured in mainstream news outlets starved of sports news.
With this in mind, here is a list of ten positive points based on the current situation.
- Motorsport still has a product to show to fans that bears some relationship to real life. The cars, liveries and drivers are by and large the same that fans have seen during the first months of 2020.
- The drivers, teams and sponsors remain in the public domain through the virtual racing platform.
- Virtual racing and realms such as iRacing have been brought into a broader public footprint and may encourage more to take up this form of motorsport.
- Drivers are still able to race and hone driving skills from their own home. This may have a positive effect on an eventual return to racing, while many other sports will require a lengthier pre-season period before full competition resumes.
- Fans have been able to see drivers, such as Max Verstappen take on the best of the Supercar brigade.
- The postponement of racing has given car owners the opportunity to make repairs and improvements to their cars when normally there simply wouldn’t be enough time between meetings.
- The loss of real world motorsport might provide a stimulus for fans who have drifted away from the sport to return. The old saying that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ might have a positive impact on crowd numbers.
- With potentially half the year gone by the time racing resumes the second half of the year may well contain an absolute feast of motorsport, with events possibly running well into the New Year and category managers work out how to complete some form of championship season.
- Championships may run to a reduced series. This may well be a benefit to teams and drivers who had struggled to gain a budget for the full season. There is also a very likely negative as well, though we will keep that for another story.
- State level racing may well start up before national championships and series can commence, given the closed borders to Queensland and Western Australia at this point in time. Should this be the case there may well be an increased level of interest in state based racing and subsequent telecasts on tv or the internet.
As has been mentioned, not everyone will see some or all of these points from a positive perspective, be they a half glass full or half glass empty kind of person. Our website and social media pages have seen a mixed response to the E-Series racing. It has, however, been great to see driver personalities shine during these dark times with some unexpected gems coming to light.
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