NASCAR Next Gen Cars Invade Wildly Popular Video Game

Michael McDowell

Getty Michael McDowell races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Stock car racing fans can now get their hands on virtual versions of the Next Gen cars, albeit in a unique way. NASCAR has once again joined “Rocket League” with new schemes and vehicles.

Psyonix, the developer of the free-to-play automotive soccer video game, announced the news on April 18. The company released a trailer for the new Fan Pass, which features the Next Gen Toyota Camry, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Camaro, complete with the updated Goodyear tires and audio from all three manufacturers.

Psyonix also announced that the new Fan Pass will include banners and schemes for Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher, and Ryan Blaney.

The NASCAR Fan Pass will become available for a limited time, starting on Wednesday, April 20, and running through Tuesday, April 26. The cost will be 1,100 in-game credits ($9.99 USD or regional equivalent), and it will also include two more content releases later in the year. The updates will include NASCAR Next Gen promotional Decals for the three manufacturers and “NASCAR-inspired” decals for the base Octane, Fennec, and Dominus vehicles.

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The partnership with Psyonix provides NASCAR with the opportunity to potentially expand its fanbase. According to ActivePlayer, more than 92 million people played “Rocket League” on its various platforms during the month of March. This is down from the peak of 99,501,147 in July 2021, but the user base has not dipped below 90 million since January 2021.

NASCAR & Psyonix First Joined Forces in 2021

The Next Gen Fan Pass continues a relationship between NASCAR and the “Rocket League” developer. The two companies previously joined forces during the 2021 season for a special release featuring some other prominent drivers and schemes.

The first NASCAR Fan Pass, which became available on May 6, 2021, featured nine banners and schemes from the 2021 season. The list included Ryan Newman (Oscar Mayer), Chase Elliott (NAPA Auto Parts), Bubba Wallace (McDonald’s), Aric Almirola (Smithfield Foods), Kurt Busch (GearWrench), Joey Logano (Shell Pennzoil), Austin Dillon (Bass Pro Shops), Erik Jones (Armor All), and Kyle Busch (M&M’s).

This initial Fan Pass ran through Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway and featured a higher fee. The 2021 NASCAR schemes and cars set gamers back 2,000 credits.

“This is one we’ve had circled from the very beginning of when we wanted to get into this space,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief digital officer, in a 2021 press release announcing the partnership. “There’s no game that is more of an obvious choice of where there’s some degree of organic integration for the NASCAR brand into a game, so this was one we had at the top of our list. To see it come together has been huge.”

Race Attendees Can Test the Fan Pass

There are likely some portions of the NASCAR fanbase that aren’t familiar with Psyonix’s unique mashup of motorsports and soccer, so they don’t know if they will want to download “Rocket League” and purchase the new Fan Pass. However, many will have the opportunity to take the virtual Next Gen cars for a test drive.

According to Psyonix, the Allied Esports gaming truck will be at Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500 on April 24. Attendees of the Cup Series race will be able to sit down and play some rounds of “Rocket League” while channeling their favorite drivers.

NASCAR and Allied Esports joined forces in 2021 to create North America’s first-ever 18-wheel gaming truck. This massive, 80-foot hauler, which traveled to several Cup Series races in 2021, features a “main stage, caster booth, roof deck, and full production capabilities.” NASCAR and its partners have used the truck to bring “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Rocket League” to the fans. They also highlighted “NASCAR 21: Ignition” and iRacing during the 2021 season.

The Allied Esports gaming truck returns to the schedule for 2022, and it features more NASCAR action. The trip to Talladega Superspeedway with the focus on the new “Rocket League” Fan Pass is only one example.

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