As the world yearns for real-life motorsport, esports have surged in prominence, and NASCAR is perhaps leading the charge with its.
These are real race car drivers taking to virtual versions of well known race tracks, and sponsors continue to pony up monetarily to get their due airtime. Afterlast month, Fox agreed to air the entire series across its broadcast networks. This past weekend's race, however, played host to some immature behavior.
The incident involved Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. and Clint Bowyer on a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. After a move by Bowyer pushed Wallace into the wall, Wallace was clearly upset -- do note there's adult language in the video below.
After Bowyer rejoins the track, he appears to purposefully crash into Wallace, sending his car to the pits. But immediately, Wallace decides to call it quits and tells viewers to "have a good one" before adding this type of incident is why he doesn't "take this shit seriously."
That didn't sit well with sponsor Blue-Emu, which agreed to sponsor Wallace and the-based series race this past Sunday.
"Bubba's actions were disrespectful to iRacing, NASCAR and especially their fans. That's why Blue-Emu discontinued his sponsorship," said Ben Blessing, Blue-Emu's executive vice president. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with Landon Cassill, iRacing and NASCAR. We are friends of RPM and Bubba but we are not long-term partners, this was a small iRacing deal and has no direct impact on RPM as a team."
The situation continued to unfold on a separate digital platform: Twitter. Wallace tweeted about the incident and joked he "ruined so many peoples day by quitting a video game." He added, "Damn quarantine life is rough."
Blue-Emu's official Twitter account first responded with a gif of President Trump delivering his famed "You're fired" line from The Apprentice before saying, "(Good to know) where you stand. Bye bye Bubba. We're interested in drivers, not quitters."
As for Bowyer, he didn't have much to say about the situation and only tweeted once about the incident, saying, "Maybe this shit is more real than I originally thought. One guy leaves happy everyone else leaving Bristol Motor Speedway pissed off."