Every spring since 1970, Dover has become the epicenter of the racing world for one weekend, but this isn't your typical spring.
When the COVID-19 pandemic put almost all of the sports world on pause, it included NASCAR and its weekly touring series, as they were forced to postpone what has being eight races, including this weekend's planned race in Dover.
While Delaware's capital will be much quieter, and far less crowded, than usual this week, "Miles the Monster" and Dover's one-mile concrete over will still hit the FOX & FS1 screens as part of the iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
iRacing is a Boston-based company that has made a racing simulation for various series from dirt tracks to IndyCars--and everything in between--and Dover International Speedway Director of Marketing Doug York said iRacing has gone all out to make it as real as virtual gets.
"They really scan the whole facility, they get every little bump, every dip, every piece of concrete throughout the facility and digitize it. On the iRacing surface you feel all of that, you're really driving it digitally like you would drive it in real life."
It has managed to find an audience, as the races have attracted over 1 million fans starving for any sort of "live" competition.
The races feature current, past, and potentially future Cup drivers, according to York, playing something more than what you'd experience on your XBox or Playstation.
"Unlike an EA, or a Madden, or an NBA, you have all 40 guys on the field driving their own race cars. There's no [artificial intelligence] going on, there's no computer competition out there, it's the NASCAR Cup Series driving their cars out out there just like they would in real life."
Dover CEO Mark Tatoian said one positive about the iRace is that he doesn't have to stare at weather forecasts all week, but he's hopeful that virtual Dover can translate over to the real thing.
"Regardless of how good the graphics are, regardless of how good the gaming is and the competition, nothing replaces a sporting event when you're in person. We have a track that a lot of new eyeballs will see, and we hope that would convert into fans actually coming to the track to see it for real."
Dover fans will have to settle for pixelated images on a screen, as York said it promises to be a strange "spring week" in Dover.
"It's a little weird to see the property as empty as it is, to not see our eight-acre fan zone getting filled up vendors, displays, tractors, and RVs. Even the signage around Dover, there's not the same 'Welcome Race Fans' signage, there's not the same atmosphere we usually get around now."
The likely good news for Dover fans? NASCAR has continuously said they are committed to running their entire schedule, which would mean two races in Dover.
Currently, Dover is scheduled to host it's traditional fall race at an earlier time this year, on August 23. Whether that turns out to be a doubleheader, or how NASCAR chooses to try to get Dover its second race, will have to be seen.
For now, if you want to see Dover, it will be a simulation, and thankfully if the "Big One" happens like what happened to Jeff Gordon in the iRace at Talladega on Sunday, no one will actually get hurt.