iRacing Beginners Guide – Getting started in iRacing 2023
iRacing offers sim racing with a subscription model. It may seem daunting at first, but this beginners guide to iRacing will cover everything you need to know to start racing!
How To Get Started in iRacing?
iRacing is a racing simulator that uses a subscription model, where you pay monthly to gain access to a competitive online sim racing platform. This ultimate iRacing guide will cover everything you need to get started in iRacing.
What is iRacing and why is it subscription-based?
As iRacing is such a huge sim racing platform, I’m going to spend quite some time in this iRacing guide to break down all of the aspects of the game, and how you can get started in iRacing. That means this beginners guide is going to be fairly long and in-depth. You can use the quick links above to skip to sections that you are interested in.
iRacing is an absolute goliath in the sim racing world and is one of the most competitive sim racing platforms. It certainly isn’t a platform to jump into thinking you can knock out a few races and leave. It is highly competitive, requires a lot of time and patience to progress and certainly isn’t the cheapest hobby.
Despite its complexity, iRacing is a hugely enjoyable sim racing platform featuring some of the most competitive and skilled racers across the world.
So why does iRacing utilise a subscription-based pricing model rather than a one-time purchase?
iRacing is ever-evolving and improving over time. It is a platform that has been supported since it was released in 2008, and one which will hopefully be supported for many years to come. This means the developers thought it’d be better to be a service that you subscribe to rather than a one-time purchase.
Unlike more traditional games, iRacing is constantly being added to and improved. And the developers host and organise different seasons throughout every year for you to compete in.
Think of it as a subscription model to your favourite streaming platform. There is constantly new content added and a huge amount of support from the developers when it comes to new features and organisation.
How much does iRacing cost?
The subscription costs $13 every month to gain access to the platform, online racing and a selection of cars and tracks. If you are a new member, you can find iRacing promos and deals to reduce this initial cost.
After you have paid for the monthly membership fee, you can also gain access to additional in-game content which are priced as one-off purchases. These include new cars and new tracks. Some of which are required to race in certain racing series.
You can pick and choose which cars and tracks you purchase, so you can tailor your own experience. If you are buying multiple in-game cars or tracks at once you can reduce the cost by using iRacing’s bulk discounts.
As a fun note, if you were to purchase every piece of current iRacing content without using bulk discounts it would cost over $2,000!
What’s included in an iRacing subscription?
As mentioned, when you first sign up to iRacing you gain access to the platform which is where you’ll spend most of your time. This is where you will organise races, take part in series, and manage your virtual iRacing career.
As part of this, iRacing gives you access to a selection of cars and tracks to get you started on your iRacing journey. Currently, in 2023 the number of cars included in a base iRacing membership is 16. And there are 22 tracks included initially.
iRacing does add new content throughout the year, so this number may increase over time.
The great news is that every car and track in iRacing is laser scanned to bring you the most accurate representation of each car or track.
How much is additional in-game content in iRacing?
There are over 100 cars and 100 tracks with over 300 configurations available currently in iRacing. If you would like to purchase any of these additional items the pricing structure is;
- Individual car = $11.95
- Individual track = $11.95 or $14.95 (dependant on track)
- Discounted car = $2.95 or $4.95
This can make iRacing pretty pricey if you are looking to add a lot of additional content. However, there are bulk discounts available as mentioned above. The bulk discounts are as follows;
- Purchase 3 or more cars or tracks at once = 10% off
- Purchase 6 or more cars or tracks at once = 15% off
- Purchase 40 or more cars or tracks at any time = 20% off all future content
- Own everything in-game = 30% off all future content
There are also some seasonal promotions that iRacing run throughout the year which offer special deals for current members. These are well worth looking out for as they can be in the form of discounted cars or tracks.
Finally, the last piece of additional content comes in the form of being able to host private servers. This feature allows you to organise your own race or series of races with friends or as part of a league. This cost is only for the host of the event and not for all participants.
- Every 1 hour of private server hosting = $0.50
What types of cars are in iRacing?
One of the greatest aspects of iRacing is the diversity in its racing disciplines. There are currently five different categories of racing, each with its own subcategories in each. These are road racing, oval racing, dirt road racing, dirt oval racing and time attack Hillclimb.
The road racing category is possibly the most popular. This encompasses all racing series that take part at a road circuit. It’s here that you will find everything from your Mazda MX-5 cup through to higher-powered GT3, open-wheeled and Prototype cars.
I say that road racing is one of the most popular racing disciplines in iRacing because it is here that you find some of the most prestigious events and tracks. Tracks like Monza, the Nurburgring and Spa Francorchamps are all within the road racing discipline.
Within road racing, you’ll find team endurance events, as well as open-wheeled racing, including the newly added Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 Formula 1 car.
Nascar has had a long-standing partnership with iRacing, which means that a lot of the oval racing includes Nascar events. There is a selection of Nascar oval tracks included in iRacing along with current and classic Nascar cars.
You will also find some open-wheeled series take part on ovals as well and iRacing roster of cars also features the current generation of Indycar.
Dirt road racing
The dirt road racing series encompasses rallycross racing as well as off-road truck racing. The rallycross series take part across a range of real-world rallycross tracks and feature some classic and modern rallycross cars. The off-road truck series is just as well supported with a range of off-road trucks included to race with.
Dirt oval racing
The dirt oval racing series all take place across some of the worlds most famous bullrings and speedbowls and feature an extremely intense style of oval racing.
Time attack Hillclimb
Time attack Hillclimb is iRacing’s newest racing discipline and mixes up the online racing into just you and the road. While you are still competing against other real drivers, you won’t see their cars on track. The goal here is to set the best time possible.
Currently, there is only a single time attack course in iRacing, and that is the real-world destination of Mount Washington. Although I’m sure over time other destinations will be added.
What is the iRacing license system?
At the core of the multiplayer experience is iRacing’s license system. This is what will determine which series you can take part in and the level of drivers you will be racing against.
You will start out your career in the D license bracket, and your goal will be to progress up and through the C, B, A and Pro licenses. As you progress through the licenses higher powered cars become available to race in more competitive series, and the online competition will be more competitive.
The reason that iRacing has a license system is to allow a form of progression. But also to ensure you are racing against other drivers of similar quality and in fair races. It improves the matchmaking within the online aspect of iRacing, whilst giving you goals to work towards.
How does the license system work?
The license system is made up of two parts, your iRating and your safety rating (SR). Both of these elements sit separately but come together to closer match the drivers you race against.
As you participate in every ranked race your on-track actions and accomplishments are taken into account. At the end of each event, you will either gain or lose both iRating and safety rating based on the event that just ran.
If you race closely and safely with other drivers your safety rating will improve. If you perform well during events and series, your iRating will improve.
iRating vs safety rating
iRating is the accumulation of your accomplishments within ranked races. If you race well and place higher in events you will gain iRating. If you performed poorly, you will lose iRating.
Your safety rating (SR) is based solely on how fairly and clean you race. Clean racing means a higher safety rating, whilst making contact with other drivers will harm your safety rating.
How to progress through the licenses
It is your overall safety rating as well as individual feats that will allow you to move up through the licenses. For example, when you first start out in iRacing as a rookie, you will need to participate in a number of events and achieve a higher safety rating than 3.0 to be promoted.
Is iRacing multiplayer or single-player?
iRacing is primarily a highly competitive online multiplayer sim racing platform. It is almost entirely geared around competitive online racing which takes part across organised events, series and championships.
There is, however, a single-player game mode within iRacing. In 2018 iRacing introduced single-player racing where you can race offline against AI-controlled drivers. When racing in the single-player game mode, your iRating and safety rating won’t be affected, allowing you to race as much as you like to improve without consequence.
The single-player races are limited though. You can only race with a selection of the iRacing roster on specific tracks only. You can’t unfortunately take any car you own and race on every track available. This single-player mode is accessed through iRacing’s beta interface which is a desktop app.
You can however choose to set up a full season within the single-player game mode if you fancy testing your skill across a range of races. Or you can arrange single one-off events to test out a certain car and track combination.
What are seasons?
During each calendar year, iRacing arranges its public races into four seasons. Each season marks the introduction of a new iRacing build which is their term for a game update. And each new season gives you the chance to enter or re-enter different series and compete against online drivers.
Every single season is 12 weeks long, and each week within a season presents a new track to race on. At the start of the next week, a new track is introduced. During a season it is your goal to score as many points as you can across these organised races.
Due to some disruptions in the scheduling, there is occasionally the need for a week 13 or week 14 in some seasons. These take the form of more light-hearted series where the track will change on a daily basis rather than weekly. These will often throw up unconventional car and track combinations and can be seen as a fun week to refresh before the next season starts.
What are iRacing series?
Within each racing discipline and license level are a selection of series. These are the name of the championship that you will be entering. Each series consists of a selection of tracks with a limited number of cars that you can drive.
As you progress through the license system you will gain access to more series which often feature higher powered cars and more prestigious track locations.
The fixed series is often the most competitive. Here you will only have access to the car that is assigned, and you can’t change your car setup. This ensures every racer has access to the same machinery, and it is truly a battle of skill.
A multi-class series is what you will see if you watch motorsport like the FIA World Endurance Championship. Here multiple classes of cars participate in the same event, with each car competing within its own sub-class.
The team series is where you will join a team of other racing drivers to compete as a team. These often require the highest amount of commitment as you will be racing alongside other team members in the same event. It is here you will often find the longest endurance races where driver swaps are crucial.
What are iRacing builds?
As mentioned above, iRacing builds are the term for the version of iRacing that is currently running. Look at builds like game updates. At the start of every season, a new build is deployed which features core updates and tweaks.
New builds are where new content will also be added. This new content can come in the form of new cars, new tracks and new gameplay features.
Can my PC run iRacing?
iRacing in general is a pretty lightweight game to run, especially in comparison to a lot of other sim racing platforms. It is easier to hit higher FPS numbers and run on higher graphical settings with iRacing.
Despite this, you do want to ensure that your PC can run the game smoothly. A high consistent FPS is a key to having an enjoyable racing experience.
Below are the minimum and recommended PC specifications that iRacing states. I would always aim a touch higher than these if you have the budget for it, mainly to future proof your PC set up.
If you are in doubt whether your current PC can run iRacing, I would recommend checking with a website such as PCgamebenchmark.
Do I need a racing wheel or controller?
Ah, the old controller vs racing wheel debate! Believe it or not, despite iRacing being a hardcore racing simulator, you can play it with a controller. And for some, this works extremely well.
Despite this, iRacing is heavily geared towards the use of racing wheel hardware. With a racing wheel, you increase your immersion and in most cases gain better control when wheel to wheel racing.
iRacing supports a wide range of racing wheels from brands such as Fanatec, Logitech, Thrustmaster and more. So finding a racing wheel that fits your requirements should be easy.
Check out some of our favourite sim racing wheels of 2023 using the links below for some recommendations on the best racing wheels to buy.
Are there driving assists available?
Good news for new iRacing members or those who are struggling to tame a certain car, there are driving assists within iRacing.
There is a selection of assists available which can all be found in the options menu. These include assists such as a racing line, brake and throttle assists and auto blip.
Despite being available, these driver aids are only really useful as you start your iRacing career. Once you progress to the D license tier you will no longer be able to use any driver assists other than the auto blip driver aid.
Are there any iRacing promo codes for new members?
There is a selection of iRacing promo codes that new members can use when purchasing their first subscription. Normally these only apply to members first purchase, but occasionally iRacing will offer a discount code for existing members too.
Below are the current working iRacing discount codes for 2023.
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