In a category that placed NASCAR, the NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA Tour, UFC and the WNBA in a battle for the Sports League of the Year at the 2021 Sports Business Awards; NASCAR took home the prize in their first time on the ballot. The award is one of the most prestigious awards in the sports industry.

In the virtual event, NASCAR president Steve Phelps was named a finalist in the ports Executive of the Year and the eNASCAR iRacing was a finalist in the Sports Breakthrough of the Year for its eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Steve Phelps spoke on the honour saying, “we’re honoured to be named 2021 Sports League of the Year and thank Sports Business Journal for this incredible recognition. This award is a testament to the collective resolve and creativity of our industry as we worked through some extraordinary circumstances in 2020 and in the process led the way for live sports in our country.”

In a year plagued by a global pandemic, cancelled events, empty stands, and altered schedules; NASCAR was the first major sport to return to competition, to welcome fans back to the venues, and the first to have a full season of events.

During the seven weeks that all sporting events were shut down, NASCAR premiered the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series where drivers competed via simulator rigs on a virtual track. A hit series, the six “races” produced some of the highest ratings in history.

Last year was also a year of racially charged events that resulted in riots and murders across the country; NASCAR took a stand against racism when it banned all Confederate flags and related material from all NASCAR tracks and events after a push from Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace. In a step toward more diversity in the sport, NASCAR’s two newest car owners are basketball star Michael Jordan and iconic Latin music star Pitbull.

Being called the best season yet, NASCAR has expanded the series to a more diverse schedule with seven road courses including the iconic Circuit of the Americas and dirt track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.