Roger Diez: Real tempers flare during fake race
Last Sunday NASCAR showed us frayed tempers at Bristol are not confined to racing there physically. The iRacing version of Bristol created just as much drama as the real thing. Bubba Wallace got so upset about an altercation with Clint Bowyer that he “rage quit,” a gaming expression meaning he left in a huff. Then Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez got involved in a retaliation battle that caused race officials to park them both.
William Byron cruised to the win, leading most of the laps. His simulated racing background, with 1,499 simulated races under his belt, was certainly a factor. Watch for him in the next few races. Just like in real life, the NASCAR drivers get Easter Sunday off. I wonder if their kids will be hunting virtual Easter eggs online.
When organizers canceled the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader due to COVID-19 pandemic organizers, NTT IndyCar officials reacted quickly to salvage the season. They added a second race to two already scheduled events, making them doubleheaders, and added a third event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to close out the season. The addition of these races, the season will still have 15 events. The Iowa 300 is scheduled for July 18 and will now also have a race on July 17. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca on Sept. 20, will have a race added on Sept. 19. This was to have been the season finale, but the added IndyCar Harvest GP on the Indianapolis road course Oct. 3, will now be the season-ending event. Roger Penske’s ownership of the Indy facility and the series was a big factor in IndyCar’s ability to make some of these changes. I hope the schedule will hold.
Formula 1 is also taking a hard look at what to do about the season. With the Canadian Grand Prix now postponed, the series will be hard-pressed to run the full season. Monaco has already been canceled due to logistics issues, taking one race off the table for certain. Ross Brawn, Managing Director of the Formula 1 Motor Sports Division, thought that a June start in the European theater is the best-case scenario. Even then, some of the early races may be run without spectators, depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time. “We have a race with no spectators. That’s not great, but it’s better than no racing at all. We have to remember there are millions of people who follow the sport at home,” said Brawn. One thing he does not want to do is to restart the season and have to stop again. In any case, the usual August shut-down has already gone by the wayside, and once the series starts it will probably be on a three-weekend on, one-weekend off schedule, with two-day rather than three-day weekend schedules. The season could also possibly run into January of 2021. Brawn hopes to salvage an 18-19 race calendar, but FIA regulations require only eight races to constitute a world championship schedule.
While live racing is off the table, the NBC Sports Network has been airing racing content all last week and will finish up early Sunday morning. There’s a variety of motorsports on tap, from flat track motorcycles to classic IndyCar, endurance racing, NASCAR races and more. Check your listings for exact details.