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iRacing Review: Learning How to Race

For many who cannot afford a race car or have never climbed behind the wheel of many oval/road-racing style race cars in a simulated environment. One of the most notable SIMs many experienced Saturday night short-track superstars and “wanna-be” individuals turn to is iRacing which we’ll review to show what racing series and cars are available, some of the perks, and the major requirements to making the most of the experience in this simulator.

Community Driven SIM Platform…Or Is It Really

Schedule Submission

Since 2008, iRacing has always made a called commitment to make the SIM platform “community-based” but this fact about the platform is not entirely true as updates to the physics, tire model, and the graphics are controlled by iRacing and have the final word on the evolution of the SIM.

However, the iRacing community (the subscribers of the service) can have a say in creating custom schedules for a racing series if a majority of the community wants to race a different race track configuration (usually within a road-racing series like the Sim-Lab Production Car Challenge) or vote on race distances (ex: changing a 40 minute sprint race to a 1 hour sprint race at Watkins Glen for the Production Car Challenge).

So the answer to this question is: iRacing is NOT 100% community-driven with the community only getting an estimated 1-3% so say in how a racing series is orchestrated and run each season.

Participation in Special Events/Endurance Races

Sprint racing is not the only feature that matters on iRacing, there is also the opportunity to create an endurance team to participate in a number of endurance races as done in real life like the Daytona 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, or the Nurburgring 24 GT and Prototype cars take part in.

Other examples of special races anybody can take place are the annual Daytona 500 (NASCAR), Indy 500 (IndyCar), Bathurst 1000 (V8 Supercars), and the Chili Bowl Nationals (Midget racing).

To participate in endurance racing, every team must have a minimum of 2 people on their team other the team that is racing solo would face disqualification at the conclusion of the event with the results for a solo team being nullified.

Also, there are specialized rules including a set amount of incident points a team can have in the event before getting a drive-through penalty and further penalties for excessive incident points.

iRacing Class Licensing System


Unlike any other racing SIM, iRacing has a state-of-the-art licensing (iRating) and safety rating (SR) system that measures your skill level regardless of where you finish and how well you have a “clean” race.

iRating benefits you the more you finish on the podium and the more you beat a higher iRated drivers (with higher skill points), the more points you would likely earn for the race finished.

For SR, it’s more measured by how many incident points accumulated per race session meaning the more incident points you do in a race will lower your Safety Rating and a 0 incident race by you would guarantee maximum SR points to raising your SR towards the 4.99 maximum.

So, if you’re not a wise driver and instead have a “chrome horn”, over-aggressive mindset then you’re SR could be put into jeopardy to forcing a license demotion (going from A class to B Class, B Class to C Class, so on and so forth…) during a race season

iRacing License & Race Series Limitations

Tied in with whatever racing license you currently have unless you don’t have a Pro license, your license class will only restrict you to running a number of racing series that fits your license and supposed skill level.

Starting out as a rookie when creating your account for the first time, you would only be restricted to running the Rookie Streets Stocks Series (oval), Global Mazda Mx-5 Cup (road), Rookie Rallycross Series (dirt road), and the DIRTcar Street Stock Series (dirt oval) as a way of racing with “training wheels” on before moving to more advanced series that require setup knowledge.

The same can be said for A-Class licensed drivers who can run any series not restricted to rookies or pro licensed drivers (with exception of the Global Mx-5 Cup that allows any licensed drivers to compete) unless they compete and finish within the top 5 (sometimes top 10) final stands for a preliminary series to qualify for a pro-licensed series.

How to Obtain a Pro License in iRacing?

To compete with the best of the best in any of the 4 racing style types, iRacing requires an individual A-Class driver to not only maintain good standing with your racing license; but, also the other requirement of racing your way in through a qualifying series destined by iRacing on what car and series to use for the Pro series (with exception of the A-Class Cup Car on the oval racing side which has been used every year as the car of choice for Pro racing).

The preliminary qualifying series would be the NASCAR iRacing Series (with the iRacing Road to Pro Series serving as another path to qualify to race in the NASCAR iRacing Pro Series on the oval side), Porsche iRacing Cup (sometimes an individual Porsche Qualifying Series maybe run to determine who gets a pro road license).

For the dirt oval and dirt road pro preliminary series to qualify for a pro license, the current racing series to qualify is the iRacing RallyCross Series (to qualify for the iRX RallyCross World Championships on the dirt road side) and the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series (to qualify for the WoO Sprint Car World Championship Series on the dirt oval side).

Road to Pro Begins with You: Choosing the Right Racing Path

Even-though not every race series or car type (open wheel, short-track car, prototype, etc.) will lead to the front doors of turning pro, iRacing gives the option of choosing which racing series suits your liking and “confidence” similar to real-life racing.

So, if you’re a short-track oval ace or maybe a CARS Tour series driver (even a fan) then starting with the Street Stock C Series (Class C) and progressing through until getting to the iRacing Super Late Model Tour would be your goal.

If looking to start a “Road to Indy” or “Road to F1” SIM path in iRacing open wheel racing, starting out in the Skip Barber Racing Series then proceeding through either the iRacing Formula Renault Series (both 2.0 and 3.5)..from there it’s choosing F3 or going to the iRacing Indycar Series.

Basically you’re in control of your racing talents wherever it takes you…

Beyond “Dirt to Daytona” – iRacing Race Tracks

north wilkesboro speedway turn 1

iRacing race track selection goes beyond the typical dirt oval to the high banks of Daytona and Talladega in the world of NASCAR…instead iRacing provides access to more than 100 race tracks and over 300 track configurations to choose from whether it’s choosing a Roval that hosts both oval and full/infield only road course racing to a race track that can be converted from asphalt to dirt oval racing.

In addition to oval race tracks, the Lucas Oil Pro 2 & Pro 4 trucks on the dirt oval side of racing share the inside road-course tracks at the “old” daytona and phoenix race tracks with the Global Rallycross series although the off road trucks do get a choice of 3 independent off-road tracks (currently as of 2020) with Crandon, Wild Horse Pass, and Wild West while the GRX only has HellRx as the independent Rx track…as anyone can see not many independent race tracks for the dirt road side (as of 2020).

Create Your Own Rules – League & A.I. Racing

If following a set schedule or the “rules and procedures in public race sessions is not how you would want to run your own racing series, another option to possibly getting the most of iRacing is by creating your own league.

So if you’re an old school racer, you may could create your own “Winston Cup Series” with the old school points/racing format and the 1987 Thunderbird/Monte Carlo cars or in road racing create your own multiclass racing series with GT3/GTE/LMP2 cars

Just send out invites to anyone you want to join your custom series and you’re off to the races!

Compete against other “Computers”

One of the newest and recent major updates iRacing made back in 2019 is the addition of implementing an A.I. system in place for people to compete on a “custom” career schedule and at race-tracks that are not possibly seen in a community-controlled racing series or in other cases for people to get away from online public session racing in whole since racing with “humans” is not as friendly as racing against a computer.

While the A.I. system is early development, it is very limited at the moment and is only used with a number of racing cars and racing series types…like GT4 racing with the BMW M4 & Porsche Cayman GT4!

Hold Your Temper…iRacing’s Sporting Code

Just about everybody has heard the old saying…”An Elephant never FORGETS”

The same can be proven true for racecar drivers who have been dumped on the track and wronged in other ways imagined; but, any aggressive race car driver especially SIM racers with the same mindset have one true intention…that is Paybacks and Retaliation!

iRacing does not have a “boys have at it” or a “free for all” rule where you can just turn into someone on a straightaway under caution let alone going bowling by killing other competitors that don’t face someone’s wrath

What I’m mentioning here is iRacing has a sporting code to go by and Retaliation is prohibited in their eyes since everyone who subscribes to their service is given a right to race; but, that can be revoked by suspension or worse…a permaban if you’re a troublemaker enough on the virtual track.

Besides getting mad turns an “evil eye,” another example of protestable behavior is racing on the apron (applies to asphalt racing only) in the corners of any asphalt oval track where stock cars and multi-class racing takes place on the rovals.

For filing protests for prohibited behavior, iRacing has a 30 minute cool down period between public racing sessions and everybody must submit a replay file (.rpy) and supporting evidence for a protest to be successful.

If a protest is a successful whether you’re on the sending or receiving end of it, then iRacing will notify you and of the outcome…I myself have been on the receiving end a few times; but, have only gotten a slap on the wrist (a warning) most times because I’m not always wrecking people on purpose or using offensive language in chat (another prohibited act by iRacing’s sporting code).

iRacing Hardware/Software Requirements

corsair 110q logitech g920

Since iRacing still uses “legacy” software and minimalistic graphics, CPU/GPU requirements don’t have to be “overkill” in a custom gaming PC.

The major requirements are using 16 GB RAM and at least a quad-core (4 core) Intel/AMD processor that at least has 3.2GHz processing power. For GPU, iRacing only requires a 2 GB VRAM GPU like the NVIDIA GTX 1030 to meet the minimal requirements.

The most important technical requirement is using at least a gear-driven racing wheel like the Logitech G920 or similar racing wheel to satisfy a budget racers needs to suiting integration with setting force-feedback easily. Otherwise, a direct-drive racing wheel can be a simple upgrade for the fact of upping the allowable wheel range that a gear-driven FFB wheel doesn’t have.

Optionally if you have the money to throw around, a Sim-rig that can bolt down a racing seat, racing wheel base of choice, and hold (3) 35″ monitors can be beneficial to maximize SIM racing experience while benefiting with Field of View improvements.

Overlay and Paint Customization Options

iracing sk modified racecar

Other than the basic hardware and software requirements of iRacing, there are some 3rd party overlay software options that can add-in additional overlays iRacing does not have available like real-time fuel consumption/re-fuel calculations to more detailed relative black boxes with another driver’s current SR/iRating, estimated Strength of Field of the current race running, and detailed “Delta” timing (current intervals to sector information against other competitors).

A free overlay supported by iRacing to download and use within a recording software to stream/record races could be iRacing Browser Apps by Kutu.

For custom paint schemes, you don’t have to use default paint templates and logo stamps iRacing provides since iRacing does allow anyone to paint their own paint schemes with a image manipulation program like PhotoShop or similar program where you can put together your own graphics designs and graphics found on the web into a masterpiece you want.

In addition, your custom paint scheme will only show up if you’re running a paint downloader program called “Trading Paints” that will load not just your paint scheme; but, other competitors paint schemes in a race session.

Personal Views about iRacing

iRacing is a subscription racing service rather than paying only once for a racing game meaning that everyone must only pay on a month-to-month/year-to-year basis to continue racing not to mention paying to buy new cars/tracks on the service. This makes iRacing an inexpensive option and disadvantage for people racing on a budget besides putting together a custom PC and getting a racing wheel.

Although not considered a “beginners” platform for SIM racing, iRacing does give options for either jumping into fixed or open setup racing with fixed setup racing being the best option for beginners that are not familiar with the first-hand feeling of a race-car and the horsepower to race others with the same gear ratio, tire pressures, suspension/aero settings, etc.

On the realistic subject of iRacing, the only areas of the SIM that make it “realistic” is the dynamic weather model (minus the fact there is no “rain” model in this SIM while others like ACC have a rain model already up and working properly) and racing for cash purses in any of the pro racing series.

Besides these two factors, the tire model (currently v7 & physical tire model as of this review) is unrealistic and too aggressive (too much slip-angle more or less) especially on cold tires to handle with the weather changes with any race-car that make it harder to develop or use iRacing as a testing model for real-life racing.

In addition, iRacing’s development is far behind other SIM platforms where there is already an efficient tire model, damage model, and a fully dynamic weather model.

iRacing is not a SIM platform that takes much of the community’s feedback seriously when it comes to fixing existing problems within the SIM (like fixing bugs found on some of the tracks and the new damage model to fixing physics/setup issues that should be realistic in real-life; but, is not carried over to the SIM). They only care about adding content to make money and nothing more in my opinion. A big disadvantage if wanting to find reliability!

On top of feedback, iRacing does not give the community a chance to take part in private or public beta sessions to test new content before releasing it during “Week 13” off-season events where the new content is normally released to the public.

Finally, the iRacing community is not the best to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of in the forums since many iRacing members (many are referred as “fanboys” protecting iRacing’s product) are “toxic” and don’t care about others feedback except their own which makes the culture not the most mentally stable/sensible.

The community basically doesn’t want to hear naysayers…instead the community promotes the whole “Shut Up and Drive” attitude instead of promoting the forum for argumentized and legit feedback on what can be done better. This is why I call iRacing another “Smoke-Filled, Madhouse Community.”

Bottom Line, only use iRacing as a testing platform to practice hand-eye coordination instead of using it as a “competition” platform.

Review Summary

  • Many different oval and road course series
  • Yearly endurance racing events such as Daytona 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • Recognized and endorsed by IMSA & NASCAR
  • Access to private racing leagues
  • Not a realistic SIM
  • Toxic SIM community in the public online races and forums
  • Can only run limited racing series in license class held
  • Poor officiating in the protest system
  • Too expensive due to microtransactions and subscription only service
  • Periodical UI software crashes/bugs
  • Poor tire model and physics model

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About The Author

Chief, Author/Writer for TornadoTwistar Gaming. 15+ year gaming experience. Always a big fan of most first-person and third-person, action/adventure, and racing games from Forza Motorsports to Rainbow Six.
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