US racing series Nascar has partnered with Race Team Alliance and video game developer 704Games to launch the inaugural Nascar esports league.
The competition will comprise of up to 16 race teams and 32 drivers, which will be owned by prominent existing Nascar race franchises. The series will be known as the eNASCAR Heat Pro League.
Fans across the US who own racing game Nascar Heat 3 will be given the chance to qualify for the Heat Pro League Draft, which is set to take place in early 2019.
The esports league will then feature a 16-race season beginning in spring 2019 and culminating during the 2019 Nascar Playoffs.
704Games, already the racing series’ exclusive video game esports partner, was behind the release of Nascar Heat 3 in September.
Nascar.com and Motorsport.com will live-stream every race from the esports series online, with each team housing two drivers on different consoles – one on Xbox One and the other on PlayStation 4.
Among the teams taking part in the digital competition are Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
Craig Neeb, executive vice president of innovation and development at Nascar, said: “We look forward to taking this first step with our teams to introduce Nascar-style racing to the massive esports audience on consoles.
“Our partners at 704Games have delivered an incredible product and we are enthusiastic about engaging gamers to create new fans and grow our sport."
Jonathan S. Marshall, executive director of the Race Team Alliance, added: “This is an exciting moment in Nascar history.
“The race teams are taking this new league very seriously and will be looking for the best competitors in the nation to represent their respective teams. We expect the competition level will be high and we challenge these new esports drivers to become the best of the best.”
Paul Brooks, chief executive of 704Games, said: “This partnership creates a once in a lifetime opportunity for Nascar Heat 3 players to work with a Nascar race team and represent their team on a global esports platform.”