In brief

  • Bitcoin fan Bryan Cook won a virtual NASCAR race in a car emblazoned with Bitcoin logos.
  • Other drivers in the race included Dale Earnhardt Jr. and current NASCAR champion Kyle Busch.
  • Cook, a digital marketer, designed the digital skin for his vehicle himself.

While a crowd of 50,000 people, quarantined in their homes, looked on, Bryan Cook, a digital marketer from North Carolina, this week beat honest-to-God NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and others in a virtual “iRace,” organized by the industry. And printed on his car? A huge Bitcoin logo, designed by Cook himself. 

This was, apparently, good for Bitcoin. 

Cook’s post about the race on the r/Bitcoin subreddit yesterday went viral, with 3,200 upvotes and 223 comments. “Congrats man! Bitcoin as a sponsor!!! I'm sure a lot of viewers will be searching for this symbol tonight,” wrote one. “Outstanding. You are one of the stars aligning for bitcoin mass adoption (and to the moon),” posted another commenter. “Way to represnet [sic] Bitcoin in iracing and visa versa,” wrote a third.

Bitcoin believer

Cook, 34, is  “a big believer in Bitcoin,” he told Decrypt. He said he got interested in Bitcoin around three years ago, when huge price booms hit the headlines. 

He used to race street cars as a teenager, but turned to graphic design in college. Later, he merged his two passions and began designing the racer’s paint jobs. Now, he handles digital marketing for five-time Cup Series winner, Joe Gibbs Racing, and gets his sim-racing fix on iRacing, a PC-based racing simulator that claims to have more than 100,000 subscribers.

Even in virtual racing, NASCAR designs have to be visible as the cars hurtle around the track at a virtual 200 miles per hour. Cook was conscious of that when he designed the Bitcoin logo:  “Having that big logo on the front was a very visible thing to have on a car,” he said. 

Cook is fascinated by the idea of digital scarcity. “With graphic design and digital photography, I’ve always wondered, well, if I make a piece of digital art... what will make people want to collect it [or] make it unreplicable?” 

He said that he’s toyed around with the idea of implementing cryptocurrencies at his company—digital signatures, licensing of designs for virtual race cars and collectible cards—but he has yet to release anything concrete yet, such as an NFT

On Tuesday, Cook raced around the oval in a virtual rendering of Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. He was pushed to the front of the pack of 40 racers when his real-life colleague, reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Busch, sneaked him into his slipstream. As the finish line neared, Busch and Cook were neck and neck. Glory took over from workplace camaraderie, and Cook sidled through to take the chequered flag. 

On Reddit, not everyone was thrilled with the result. “I love bitcoin but where is dogecar?,” harrumphed one commenter.