Nascar and iRacing plan for 2010 launch of online gaming series

CHARLOTTE, NC: Nascar and iRacing.com are planning media outreach and involvement from Nascar drivers to promote the launch of a Nascar-branded online virtual racing series in early 2010.

CHARLOTTE, NC: Nascar and iRacing.com are planning media outreach and involvement from Nascar drivers to promote the launch of a Nascar-branded online virtual racing series in early 2010. The two companies announced the partnership and series at Nascar's All-Star race on May 16, reaching out to motorsports media, gaming press, and mainstream outlets like USA Today.

IRacing hired Maverick PR about two weeks ago, in order to increase the brand's presence within the gaming community and to support the efforts around the Nascar partnership, said Steve Potter, director of communications for iRacing.

"Our strategy was to reach people who play video games and who are ready for something that is a bit more of a challenge," he said. The second audience for the game is current Nascar fans. To the gamers, the message is that the game is more like a simulator game than a regular video game, and for Nascar fans, it is all about getting more involved with the sport.

Tom Sullivan, manager of business communications for Nascar, said the big PR push will come toward the end of 2009 and leading into 2010. Nascar has Catalyst PR on retainer, but the agency has not yet gotten involved with PR for this partnership.

"A number of our drivers also compete online [in iRacing games], and we're looking to utilize that and utilize our most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has been a part of the group that developed the game," Sullivan said. The message is that "not only is this entertainment, this is also a competitive, sanctioned series that Nascar is going to be following."

The campaign will target mainstream and trade press, including broadcast, print, and online, Sullivan said. A Web site for the series will be updated with visuals, he added, and the campaign will work to incorporate social media aspects as the release date approaches.

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