iRacing License Explained – How To Progress in iRacing

iRacing offers a unique competitive sim racing experience, but to progress into better cars, you'll need to earn licenses. This guide runs through how to progress your iRacing license.

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iRacing License Explained

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What are iRacing licenses?

iRacing licenses range from Rookie, through to A and Pro licenses. This is an overall skill ranking system which dictates what racing series you can participate in. You can earn additional licenses by meeting certain criteria through an iRacing season. But you can also lose your current iRacing license if you don’t meet the minimum requirements.

You will have four licenses in total, one for each of the disciplines within iRacing. These include Oval, Road, Dirt Oval, and Dirt Road. You’ll have to progress each of these licenses individually. You can’t use your Road A license to jump into A license Oval events for example. You’ll need to progress your Oval rookie license up to A to unlock these events.

As well as your iRacing license which allows you to compete in different racing series, you also have an iRating and a safety rating. Both your iRating and safety rating sit independently of your current license. These determine the skill level of other racers that you can compete against, and dictate whether you get promoted or demoted at the end of a season.

I’ll run through both your iRating and safety rating in much more detail further down in this guide. But first, let’s take a look at each iRacing license level.

iRacing license levels

There are seven individual licenses in iRacing in total. These are;

  • Rookie license
  • D license
  • C license
  • B license
  • A license
  • Pro license
  • Pro WC license

When you first start iRacing, you’ll automatically have your rookie license for each discipline of racing. This allows you to compete in the rookie events. There are only 1 or 2 rookie events for each racing discipline. This is where you will learn the racing dynamic within iRacing.

The rookie series provides slower cars such as the Mazda MX-5 cup car for you to learn how to compete against other drivers in iRacing. You can use these events to familiarise yourself with the driving physics, improve your racecraft and learn the iRacing scheduling.

How do the license classes work?

Each license will dictate which series you can enter. If you want to race faster cars and different tracks you will need to progress to the required license. As you progress up to the next license, you will automatically unlock a range of race series. You can then enter any of the unlocked series, including series in lower licenses.

Your license won’t necessarily dictate the quality of opposition you’ll face in events, as this is dictated by your iRating.

What types of cars are in iRacing?

What is iRating?

As well as your current license, you will have your overall iRating. Your iRating is affected by your performance on track. If you race and finish above expectation, you will improve your iRating. This includes finishing highly in races. Winning races is one of the best ways to improve your iRating.

Your iRating will dictate how fast the other drivers around you will be. If you have a high iRating, you will be grouped with other drivers with high iRatings. These will generally be faster drivers. If your iRating is low, you will be racing against slower drivers.

Your iRating starts at 1,250 but can go lower if you race poorly. If you race extremely well, your iRating can stretch up towards 10,000. The very fastest drivers have an iRating of around 6,000, with some extremely fast drivers rated even higher. On average, most drivers will hover between 1,000 and 2,000.

What is safety rating?

Your safety rating sits independent of both your license and your iRating. However, your safety rating does have a direct correlation with your current license class. Your safety rating (SR) is a score of how safely your drive during races.

If you have incidents during any session including qualifying, warmup, race and time trials, your safety rating will be negatively affected. If you race closely with other drivers without any incident, your safety rating will increase.

Your safety rating improves based on the number of corners you drive through without incident. This is why it is much easier to improve your safety rating in longer races than in shorter ones. Drive consistently, stay on track and don’t make contact and your safety rating will improve.

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    An incident counts as coming off track and making contact with a wall or other driver. And there are different severities of incident, with each one affecting your safety rating across a range of extremes. Incidents range from 1x, 2x and 4x. Light incidents will net just 1x safety rating penalty, while severe incidents can net up to a 4x penalty.

    The lowest level of an incident is light contact with a wall or another car. Then, slightly higher is coming off track. Then there is hard contact with a wall or losing control of your car or spinning. Finally, the most severe incident level is hard contact with another car on track.

    Your safety rating is a number between 0.00 and 4.99 and will start at 2.50.

    Read our complete iRacing safety rating guide.

    How to get promoted in iRacing

    As I mentioned above, your safety rating does directly affect your license level. To progress through iRacing licenses, you’ll need to improve your safety rating and meet the minimum requirement for a promotion.

    To be promoted in iRacing, you simply need to have a safety rating between 3.00 and 4.00 at the end of a season. You will also need to meet the minimum participation requirements. You can gain an instant promotion mid-season by having a safety rating over 4.00 at any point.

    If however, you finish a season with a safety rating below 2.00, you will be demoted to the previous license level.

    Every time you get promoted to the next license in iRacing, you will automatically take a -1.00 safety rating hit. This will lower your safety rating from say 3.45 down to 2.45 on promotion. This is designed to stop drivers from gaining automatic promotions every season without having to earn their safety rating.

    What are the minimum participation requirements?

    The minimum participation requirements (MPR) in iRacing are the requirements you have to meet to be promoted. Not only will you require a safety rating of above 3.00, but you’ll also need to meet the MPR by the end of the season.

    The MPR is different for every license, but you can check what the MPR for your current license is by clicking on your iRacing profile in the dashboard.

    Does iRating affect license?

    Your iRating doesn’t affect your license at all, only your safety rating directly affects your license level. You can have a very low iRating but still progress through the licenses if you drive safely and meet the next license MPR.

    This is great news for drivers who are slower and don’t have the same levels of speed as faster drivers. You can still have a lot of fun with iRacing regardless of your skill level. The most important thing to remember when racing in iRacing is to race safely.

    It is much better to finish low down but without incident than to race fast and dangerously.

    How do you get a safety rating in iRacing?

    Everybody starts their iRacing career with a safety rating of 2.50. This can be increased by racing safely during all race sessions. If you finish race sessions without incident, your safety rating will improve.

    Because your safety rating is dictated by the number of clean corners you race around, the best way to improve your safety rating in iRacing is to race cleanly. If you race on tracks with more corners, your safety rating will increase at a quicker level. Especially compared to tracks with few corners.

    This is the reason why long races can net large safety rating gains.

    For example, a clean 20 lap race will increase your safety rating. A 20 lap race with multiple incidents can negatively affect your safety rating. A 200 lap race with a few incidents can increase your safety rating. A clean 200 lap race will increase your safety rating a lot.

    It isn’t recommended to drive slowly and try to grind your safety rating, as this will lead to more difficult scenarios in the future that you may not be prepared for. It is much better to learn to race slowly in lower series such as the Mazda cup. Practice in the slower cars, and practice racing close to other drivers without contact.

    Top tips for improving safety rating in iRacing

    • Race lower series
    • Practice racing others without making contact
    • Race shorter tracks
    • Participate in longer races
    • Avoid sprint races where you’ll be close to a lot of other drivers and the chance of an incident is high

    iRacing progression paths

    iRacing series

    As each racing discipline is ranked individually, you will need to progress through each discipline if you want to race in the top events across the board. Each racing discipline has its own progression path from Rookie to Pro class.

    Every racing discipline starts with two rookie events for you to choose from. And if you complete either rookie event you’ll get promoted up to D class.

    Read our iRacing career progression paths guide to find out how to progress each discipline.

    Competing in unranked iRacing events

    If you want to race in cars from higher racing series that you don’t currently qualify for, you can do so in unranked series. These unranked series are available right away, giving you access to race in faster cars.

    Being unranked, these events wont affect your safety rating or iRating in anyway. So you are free to have some fun during these events. However, because of this these events can be chaotic. If you fancy trying out a faster car before you unlock it with your license, you can do so in these unofficial events at any time.

    Are there any iRacing promo codes?

    iRacing often run promotional codes giving reduced price memberships. These normally apply to new members only, but sometimes you can pick up a renewal code, so it’s always worth checking.

    Read our iRacing promo code guide for a full list of working 2022 iRacing codes.

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    Article written by Rich

    Co-Founder of

    Rich is the co-founder, and one of the main F1 setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. With over a decade of experience as a graphic designer, marketing director, competitive sim racer and avid motorsport fan, Rich founded to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.

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