NASCAR tried its hand at the sitcom when it released The Crew on Netflix earlier this year. Now, it’s giving fans what they’ve been asking for: a documentary series in the style of Netflix’s Formula One series Drive to Survive, which will be airing on the USA Network.
DTS is a massively popular docuseries that has done a damn good job at interesting new fans in the motorsport world. They may not be watching races, but folks have enjoyed the drama, the storylines, and the personalities that are revealed on Netflix’s show; you could argue that it’s been one of the best pieces of unintentional promotional material F1 has ever produced, and its success has other racing series asking how they, too, can capitalize on the trend.
NASCAR’s first try at a Netflix show came in the form of The Crew, a Kevin James sitcom that reinforced more of NASCAR’s stereotypes than it challenged. It didn’t need to be a paragon of social justice, but recycling the same material about ambitious and bitchy Silicon Valley women, pop-culture nerds, and vegetarians didn’t exactly start the show off on the right foot, and it didn’t get better as the first season progressed. To no one’s surprise, the show was not green-lit for a second season.
Which means NASCAR needed to look somewhere new, and that new place is an actual docuseries. Filming will start during this season’s playoffs, Deadline reports, and it’ll be an eight-part series that follows the drivers as they progress through each round. Its current working title is Race for the Championship.
Unfortunately, after its previous Netflix faux pas, NASCAR didn’t score a streaming service to debut its new show. Instead, Race for the Championship will be aired on the USA Network, where the Cup Series will be airing after NBC decided to shutter NBC sports.
Here’s a little more from Deadline:
With Race for the Championship, USA is using the same programming strategy it has applied to its flagship WWE Raw franchise, which is joined on the schedule by hit docu-reality series Miz & Mrs. It follows the lives of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and Maryse Mizanin in and out of the wrestling ring. Unscripted fare also has become a key growth area for ad-supported cable networks like USA, taking over from scripted originals.
I’m not a wrestling fan, so I can’t personally speak to the quality of the series style that’ll be used, but if NASCAR pulls this off, it could be damn good for the sport. It’s a great way to interest fans, both old and new, and to show off a side of the sport that might be more interesting than the on-track action.
This isn’t the first time NASCAR has tried its hand at reality-style series. NASCAR Drivers: Non-Stop, also known as NASCAR Drivers 360, was an hour-long series that took viewers behind the scenes to show them what NASCAR drivers did outside the track. There was a similar series called NBS 24/7 that followed what was then the Busch Series and today would be considered the Xfinity Series.