i Chariots of Thunder (iCOT) is an invitational iRacing Sprintcar series designed for real Chariots of Thunder drivers and prominent personalities to engage with fans, sponsors and have a bit of fun in these uncertain times. iCOT is based on the annual Chariots of Thunder (COT) sprintcar series held over two weekends at the Northline Speedway track in Darwin.
The Darwin Speedway Riders and Drivers not for profit volunteer association's own iCOT sub-committee teamed up with a local production company PRLX to professionally live stream the races. It has been based on the successful Supercar E-Series, the free live stream is based on keeping the fans entertained and engaged. The focus is to try to emulate the atmosphere at the track as close as possible, including commentators, multiple camera angles, in house studio, in house simulators, professional sound mixing, quality broadcast production graphics and thirty of the who's who of racing on the track at the same time.
Measures have been implemented to keep the competition as fair as possible with an array of inexperienced to experienced drivers have been included in the series, including handicapping drivers who are too experienced.
The production of the series is based at a local office from August to October, the final race night will be live streamed at the Northline Speedway clubhouse for members to enjoy and maintain the camaraderie and provide fans with a speedway fix.
The club had to cancel the entire 2020 season due to COVID-19, the initiative was prompted to maintain fan engagement and presence for members, drivers, crew, volunteers and sponsors. The 2020 - 2022 strategic plan milestones had to be revised to be achievable during this time. We wanted to maintain 30% of the membership and subscribers to the Facebook page which required new and exciting content.
Volunteer retention Is always a challenge, by offering other creative opportunities for our volunteers we wanted to keep them interested and engaged with the club whilst improving their skill set and knowledge. Examples include volunteer commentators receiving on the job mentorship and training from professional commentators. Fire/recovery volunteers have received basic training in being a production assistants. During this year we have provided teams with the opportunity to race in cost effective and safer environments whilst including all speedway and motor sports fans.
Our expectation to the response of iCOT was hoping fans and members would be happy to see some form of racing with real drivers relative to their club. Drivers would be happy they get to race with fellow drivers. Race teams and sponsors would be happy that they are getting coverage and recognised for their support. The main aim was to keep fans, members, drivers, crew, volunteers and sponsors engaged with the club and sport. The amount of views during the live stream and comments during the racing and the promotional posts is one method we adopted through social media to evaluate interaction from all stakeholders.
To date we have received over 27,000 views of the iRacing series. Interviews with drivers and personalities have gained so much traction that when the Supercars were in Darwin last month, they engaged our club to assist with their promotions.