90 seconds of virtual NASCAR racing for real money

March 05, 2013 3:00 AM
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Much the way reality TV has drawn in viewers, virtual sports has definitely captured an audience with authentic graphics and high entertainment.

NASCAR and South Point have capitalized on a neat venture, which is tied to this weekend’s racing card at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We have worked with Bally (Technologies) to use their technology for virtual racing in which our players who select the winner split a $5,000 free play pool,” said Ryan Growney, general manager at South Point Hotel and Casino. “The race lasts about a minute and a half and takes over the entire sound system in the casino.”

There’s even a race announcer, the unmistakable voice of Eli Gold. Eli has done NASCAR forever it seems and is also the longtime football voice of the current national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Gold is a legend in the South, much as the late Larry Munson was as the football voice of the Georgia Bulldogs and Cawood Ledford who called Kentucky basketball and football for 39 years.

Few are better in NASCAR than Gold, who has worked for years on radio with the Motor Racing Network. His voice brings tremendous realism and buzz for the four races that will be held each day from March 7-10.

The actual promotion at South Point is called the “$80,000 Virtual NASCAR Racing” giveaway. Casino Club players have the opportunity to participate in four daily races Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Slot players who earn 100 points within the hour of each race qualify to participate.

“Not only are we featuring the giveaway, but we have 12 race teams staying with us plus our driver Brendan Gaughan signing autographs here Wednesday night and Saturday at the Speedway at 9 a.m. at the South Point’s booth.

As for the virtual race, players can choose among eight drivers selected by Bally. The choices are Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr.

“Bally and NASCAR did the choosing,” Growney said. “All are well known names in the sport. We first did the promotion in October. There are no handicaps, each driver has an equal chance to win.”

The $5,000 winner’s prize money is split among all the players who pick the correct driver. Back in October when the race was tested, Martin Truex had the least support so when he wins the pot stands to be higher than if say Gordon were to have won.

“People do tend to pick their favorite driver so that can affect the pot,” Growney said. “We didn’t have a say in the driver choices, but if Bally asks us next year, I’m sure we’ll bring up having Danica Patrick as one of the eight.”

South Point was the first in Las Vegas to purchase the Bally system, which was first seen at G2E last year.

“G2E wanted a showcase casino to see the product in action and we were delighted to work with Bally and NASCAR,” Growney said. “It was a significant purchase and we enjoy our relationship with them.”

So players this weekend will have the opportunity to qualify to participate in the virtual races when playing slots.

“We just plan to do it for this weekend to coordinate with the Vegas races,” Growney said. “The plan next year is again the same.”

For more information, please visit the South Point website (www.southpointcasino.com.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at MarkMayer@GamingToday.com.

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