Virtually the entire world of sports may be shut down in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t virtual versions taking place. Or that they are completely lacking in the drama and emotion of the real thing.
Witness what happened Sunday at the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series at the digital version of Bristol Motor Speedway. There, during the 11th lap of the 150-lap race, driver Darrel “Bubba” Wallace Jr. managed to get in a collision with Cup Series veteran Clint Bowyer, quit the game and lose a sponsor over it. All in real time, streamed and followed on social media. Humiliating!
“I used to work in NASCAR and you aren’t going to find the dollar-for-dollar return on investment we were getting on this,” Ben Blessing, the executive vice president of Blue-Emu, an emu oil-based topical pain reliever told The Action Network. “We thought this was a blessing in disguise for us. But then you find out that you aren’t sponsoring a NASCAR driver, you are sponsoring someone like my 13-year-old son who broke his controller playing some game where he builds houses.”
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) April 5, 2020
Video footage showed the two drivers appearing to engage each other, with Bowyer initially walling Wallace as he tried to overtake him on the right, then deliberately dooring him, sending his own car spinning into oncoming cars and eventually to a halt.
“I got Bubba’ed,” said Bowyer, who was serving as Fox Sports’ in-race reporter.
— Davin (@DriveThrough_) April 5, 2020
For his part, Wallace, driving car No. 43 with the Blue-Emu logo on the hood, could be heard shouting at Bowyer, then just quitting after being slammed into the wall. “That’s why I don’t take this (expletive) serious,” he said, before shouting, “Peace out!” His stream then went dark.
Blue-Emu had been sponsoring Richard Petty drivers starting in 2015 and had participated in 10 real races over five years.