Darren Cox, the mind behind the GT Academy project that turned one-time console gamers into professional racing drivers, has started a new venture in creating a professional race team for eSports competition.
eSPORTS+CARS is the first of its kind, and will be the closest thing to a real motor racing team without putting wheels on a track.
Cox’s main aim is to tap into the millions of people who have already been influenced by racing games in order to build audience figures at actual motorsport events.
“Research in the US shows us that the millennial generation first become engaged in football through gaming,” said Cox.
“The growth of MLS has been driven not initially by fans by going to matches and inheriting a passion for the sport, they are instead playing online and then becoming engaged with what happens in the ‘real’ professional leagues.”
“We know that motorsport audiences are dwindling; we know we need something to bring the younger audience back to the sport and I firmly believe gaming can help do this.”
eSport is one of the fastest growing competition platforms, with prize money at the largest events exceeding £13.5 million – more than the amount given to the winner of the Daytona 500.
Over a billion people currently participate worldwide, and viewing figures for the recent League of Legends final out scored the most watched NBA Basketball game for 18 years.
“If you look at the broader eSport market – including first-person shooting games, fantasy strategy games, even football – you can see how effectively they have both embraced and been driven by this vast new fan base,” said Cox.
“Professional teams compete in global championships, driving millions of dollars worth of revenue, but more importantly in some instances, driving millions of new fans to real sport.”
“We want to use the team to shine a light on the huge opportunity that is virtual motorsport and we will do it by mirroring the approach of the best teams and brands in the real motorsport world.”
eSPORTS+CARS has also announced its first official partner, in the form of 2015 European Le Mans Series champion Greaves Motorsport.
“We have seen the professionalism of gamers first hand in the real world and as an entrepreneur I have watched the growth of eSport with great interest,” said team owner Tim Greaves.
“I am excited to explore the opportunities in gaming for our current and future partners.”
You can watch the launch video of eSPORTS+CARS below.