2024 Daytona 500 Feb 19, 2024; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver William Byron (24) leads driver Ross Chastain (1) during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Many of NASCAR’s current stars honed their driving skills playing racing video games. Now the sport is coming full circle in a way, trying to turn real races into virtual reality experiences for fans.

Sports Business Journal reported Friday that NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced a VR fan interaction concept at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

“One idea that we’re contemplating which is, in real time, participating in the race,” Phelps said, per Joe Lemire, SBJ. “As the race is going on with 40 cars, you are the 41st car. You’re participating as part of that AR/VR experience, which would be really cool.”

This apparently isn’t some distant vision; SBJ reported the tech could be available “within a year.”

Development began on Meta VR headsets, but it is expected to be available on the Apple Vision Pro platform as well.

It’s anyone’s guess how this would function, but it makes sense it would be similar to a hyper-realistic “EA Sports NASCAR” game, only instead of the other drivers being fellow gamers, you’d be mixing it up with stars such as Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.

You wouldn’t be able to purposely cause a crash, of course, which might disappoint some fans.

While the details are still unclear, NASCAR would seem to be more adaptable to this type of VR experience than, say, basketball or football.

[Joe Lemire, Sports Business Journal]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.