I feel like post-lockdown esports streams have kinda taught us that this "top level esports!" stuff isn't really something most people are that interested in on its own and instead it relies on following someone competing in it. Watching along with someone who is talking to their chat and you can root for or relate to seems to be much more valuable than being the best in the world when it comes to this stuff.
Jimmy Broadbent is the perfect example, his streams from 2nd or 3rd split often have 3x (or more) the viewer count of the official iRacing top split streams, and likewise with several other streamers. The individual streamers' coverage of the Porsche "All-Stars" or whatever series with all the streamers participating often had around twice as many views as the actual proper Supercup... Contender series? Whatever it was called, the one for the top guys.
That doesn't mean we need to know more about the top esports competitors though, as trying to force us to care about them won't work. That has to be brought up organically or whatever you want to call it, which is why it works for guys like Broadbent and Jardier and Quirk and so on, who entertain and engage their audiences. Of course, it doesn't help when several top esports guys have revealed themselves to be toxic, arrogant douchebags and/or perfectly willing to make a mockery of an event for their own benefit, and there is a reason why people know guys like Dave Cam and GamerMuscle but can't name more than 2 top level guys, if any.
I would think their $500k in prize money would probably earn more eyes and positive attention for the game if it was spread out more, with more splits and smaller prizes where everyone has a place to compete. That $500k could pay out $100 to 5,000 players and give lots of people a chance to compete for a prize, making a lot more people interested in getting the game to participate. Having a chance for the game to pay for itself even when you aren't top 100 in the world seems like it would appealing to many. I dunno maybe I'm off-base here, but as someone who does actually watch like 2 or 3 esports things (which seems to be more than nearly anyone else I know), I won't watch this Rennsport series and it doesn't make me care any more or less about the game than I did before... But if myself or some of my friends could be involved and competing for prizes, I'd be interested.
Of course putting money on the line for all those people might just make things even worse with more dirty driving, exploits and terrible attitudes... But at least in the lower skill lobbies it could be funny.