Holland College athletics department officials believed in the "build it and they will come" mantra, and they were right.
The department has a full field of 35 people registered for its first foray into eSports with the Canadian eMotorsports Series. Holland College is using NASCAR Heat 4 on the PlayStation 4 console as it tests the market for potential growth opportunities.
People had until Tuesday to register, but the remaining spots were claimed during the weekend.
Daniel Cudmore, athletics development and communications co-ordinator at Holland College, said they are pleased with the response.
“It’s been all-around positive,” he said. “It’s fun, too, because the people that are into it are absolutely loving it.”
Drivers are excited about the beginning of the series and are looking for ways to help grow it. About 40 per cent of the participants are from Prince Edward Island with a few from Ontario and Nova Scotia and the remainder coming from the United States. It was able to attract the Americans by doing some promotion in Facebook groups.
Organizers reduced the field of series drivers from 39 to 35 to provide some flexibility during the season to add special drivers for specific races. They have also added a driver assessment session to gauge the experience level and try to ensure the tour will be a positive experience for all racers. Some drivers were given things to work on and the option of being reassessed to gain entry into the series.
The first race of the season is The Clash at the Daytona International Speedway Sunday at 9 p.m. Atlantic. It doesn't count towards the regular season points standing, it will determine the first two drivers for Tuesday's season opener, Holland College 250, also held at Daytona.
The series has held weekly exhibition races since April 14 to adjust race formats, improve live broadcasting practises and build the series driver roster. Ryan Gibson, who controls the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro, and Darcy Ford, who handles the No. 64 Suck it Up Septic Ford Mustang, have each won multiple races.
“I really think the pre-season was just a taste of what we are going to see once the green flag waves at Daytona,” said Ford. “The intensity and competition is going to be the highest we will have seen so far and I can’t wait to get the season started and show what the 64-team can do.”
The champion will be crowned following the last race of the year on Nov. 17. Each of the 26 races have been sponsored and will be broadcast on Facebook. Some drivers have also secured sponsors.
Registration was $50 and there are cash prizes for each race and the season championship.
For more online, go to www.hollandcollege.com/eSports.