Racing for Local Businesses

A new Kiwi-flavoured e-racing series, Racing Local, has already attracted formidable competition with the likes of Brendon Hartley, Hayden Paddon, Earl Bamber, Scott McLaughlin, Greg Murphy and plenty more.

A new Kiwi-flavoured e-racing series, Racing Local, has already attracted formidable competition with the likes of Brendon Hartley, Hayden Paddon, Earl Bamber, Scott McLaughlin, Greg Murphy and plenty more lining up to tackle a diverse range of circuits in some equally amazing race cars.

The first Racing Local event will stream live on Friday 1 May, 7pm NZT.

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Time to shake those preconceptions. E-racing has fast become a big deal and is quickly converting die-hard, real-life motorsport fans to the digital format.

Broadcast rating auditors, Nielsen, reported a recent NASCAR e-race, which featured a 35-car field stacked with current and past Hall of Fame drivers, drew a staggering audience of 903,000. That’s just shy of 50% of the average audience for a real-life NASCAR race broadcast. All-of-a-sudden, the category is appealing to new demographics with a higher percentage of 18-34-year-old viewers for the digital series.

This bodes well for an exciting new e-racing initiative right here in New Zealand.

Created to help local businesses across the country get up and running again, Racing Local has been put together, in part, by Kiwi driver’s Brendon Hartley and Chris van der Drift.

With the support of the Giltrap Group, Racing Local brings together a diverse group of 60 Kiwi racers from all types of motorsport to join forces and compete in the virtual world of iRacing. The broadcasted rounds will raise money for local cafés and eateries by leveraging the innovative pre-pay hospitality app, SOS Business.

The confirmed Racing Local series entry list is already impressive and includes Brendon Hartley, Chris Van Der Drift, Christian Hermansen, Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen, Greg Murphy, Earl Bamber, Mitch Evans, Simon Evans, Andre Heimgartner, Tom Blomqvist, Hayden Paddon, Liam Lawson, Madeline Stewart, Marco Giltrap, Hayden Guptill, Sam Waddell, Marcus Armstrong, Nick Cassidy, Reid Harker, Brendon Leitch, and Jaxon Evans.

A further 25 spots are open for any motorsport license holder (Speedway New Zealand, Motorsport New Zealand, Kartsport New Zealand, D1NZ competitors etc) and a further 10 wild card entry positions are available for anyone else with access to a simulator and an iRacing account.

The shift to virtual racing and the rapid growth in popularity of e-racing broadcasts over recent weeks has seen a big upswing in the quality of race commentary, with event promotors quickly realising familiar – and knowledgeable – commentary teams make the digital races all the more ‘real’.

Take Australia’s superb BP Supercars All Stars E Series for example: the rounds are almost as elaborate as real-life live broadcasts, with dynamic commentary, live crosses to drivers and outstanding direction of the action on screen.

Racing Local will also aim to provide an engaging experience for viewers with an expert commentary team comprising of former Supercars Australia broadcaster Greg Rust, and Steve Daniel, D1NZ and Speedway commentator, describing the action on track.

With a diverse mix of drivers comes an equally diverse mix of tracks and disciplines. Week 1 will see competitors tackle the lightweight Radical SR8 around the iconic Daytona Speedway road course before jumping into 720hp Sprint Cars at the Knoxville Oval.

Veteran racer and iRacing Rookie, Greg Murphy, is hoping the variety could be the leveller he needs to have a competitive shot.

“Being probably one of the oldest in the field this is all pretty new to me and I’ll definitely be rolling that excuse out as needed!” Murph laughs.

“But the mix of disciplines could prove pretty challenging for these guys that use simulators regularly. Look at the likes of Scotty McLaughlin and Shane Van Gisbergen on iRacing; they genuinely are on a whole other level. But these different cars and tracks might at least give blokes like me a chance!”

“In all seriousness though, consistency is going to be the hardest challenge. Without that seat-of-pants ‘feel’, keeping consistent, smooth and fast in e-racing is really challenging. Consider someone like F1 driver Lando Norris, who has been racing simulators since he was a kid, and there’s no question it contributes to developing your skills and reactions in the real world,” says Murph.

The first Racing Local event will stream live on Friday 1 May. The link will be posted on the Racing Local Facebook page.