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iRacing » Setting Up iRacing: A Complete Starters Guide To iRacing
In this iRacing setup guide, I'm going to run through the best settings for iRacing, how to set up your racing wheel and pedals, how to create car setups and much more. All with the aim of guiding you through the iRacing setup process.
Getting started in iRacing can be a pretty daunting task. There is much to do including setting up your sim racing wheel and pedals. And many systems to learn from licenses and car setups to the correct field of view.
In this guide, I’m going to provide the best iRacing setup to help you get started in iRacing as quickly as possible. I’ll look at what equipment you need, how to adjust iRacing settings to get the best feel from the game, and some tips on how to increase your pace and earn your licenses.
iRacing is unlike most other sim racing titles. It revolves almost entirely around a fiercely competitive online racing mechanic which will have you racing other sim racers around the world. The goal, really is to have fun and enjoy sim racing, but also, to progress as a driver and increase both your license level and iRating over time.
I’m going to start this whole guide with a very brief overview of how iRacing works. If you want to learn about iRacing in more detail, check out our comprehensive guide to safety rating, iRacing career progression, and how seasons and series work.
The first thing to know is that iRacing requires a monthly/annual subscription in order to access the platform and servers. Check out our iRacing discount codes for the cheapest way to start iRacing. With your subscription, you get access to a small number of cars and tracks, enough to get you started and out of the rookie class.
As you race, you’ll earn iRating which is the measure that defines which other drivers you’re matched with. This can be seen as an overall skill rating. The faster you are and the better your results, the higher your iRating.
You will then choose series to race in which give you a set schedule and series of races as well as a limited car choice. You may need to purchase additional cars and tracks to be able to participate in all events during a series. And these are the microtransactions that are at the heart of iRacing.
I’d always recommend planning your car and series choice, as doing so can help you minimise how much you spend on content that you may not race overly often. Check out our guide to the cheapest way to progress through iRacing.
Beyond these core systems and progression, there are a host of settings you can change, and things you can setup to get the most out of your iRacing experience. I’ll cover these in detail as we progress through this iRacing setup guide.
As mentioned, to get started in iRacing, you’ll need a subscription. This can be purchased via iRacing’s website. If you’ve not subscribed before, I’d highly recommend using an iRacing promo code to get a cheaper subscription.
After this process, you can jump into iRacing and start to configure your settings, set up all other parts of your iRacing setup, and get on track.
Before we do jump onto the track in iRacing, it’s important to have your sim racing setup ready. This includes everything you’re going to use in iRacing from your racing wheel and pedals to shifters and button boxes.
To start playing iRacing, all you really need is a controller. Yes, that’s right, you can race iRacing with an Xbox controller or gamepad. It’s not the ideal way to get the most from iRacing, but it does work.
Typically, to enjoy iRacing to its fullest, you’ll need a racing wheel, pedal set and a way of mounting it all such as a cockpit, table clamp or sim rig. Below is an example of a sim rig showing the different parts that combine to create a complete sim racing setup.
To quickly show you a few ideas of sim racing setups for iRacing, below are some builds that I would recommend. These include everything you need to start iRacing using sim racing products across different price ranges.
The beginner column is ideal if you’re starting your iRacing journey. The intermediate column is a fantastic iRacing setup which will suit many sim racers. And the professional setup showcases the best products around.
Included with G923
Gomez Formula Pro
Included with G923
If you have a racing wheel or are planning on buying one, you’ll need to consider how to mount it. A desk clamp or table clamp works fine for lower-powered racing wheels. But if you jump into a higher-powered wheel or the world of direct drive racing wheels, you’ll most likely require a sim rig.
Sim rigs come in all sizes and shapes, from compact wheel stands to all-in-one sim rigs and industrial-looking aluminium profile sim rigs. And your needs will be down to which sim racing gear you’re planning on using.
I’d recommend planning ahead a little bit when choosing a sim rig. Are you going to upgrade your racing wheel in the future, or add additional peripherals? If so, it may be beneficial to opt for a larger or sturdier sim rig. On the other hand, if space is tight, choosing a compact and collapsible wheel stand may be a better option.
Choosing a sim racing wheel for iRacing comes a lot down to your budget, along with what sort of performance you want to achieve. There are some fantastic lower-cost racing wheels such as the Logitech G923 and MOZA R3 which I’d highly recommend if you’re just starting your sim racing journey.
Best Budget Racing Wheel
Best Mid-Range Wheel
Fanatec GT DD Pro
Best Premium Racing Wheel
Fanatec ClubSport DD+
Up to 2.2Nm
Up to 8Nm
Up to 15Nm
PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC
PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC
PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC
From £269 / $350
Once you’ve chosen a racing wheel and mounted it to your sim rig, we can start to ensure that your wheel is correctly configured for iRacing. This all starts in your racing wheel’s software. You will want to check that your wheel is calibrated and you’re running the latest firmware with the best settings before we start iRacing.
Each racing wheel typically uses a different piece of software to configure your wheel. Fanatec uses the Fanatec Control Panel, MOZA uses Pit House, and Simucube uses TrueDrive. You will definitely want to download the correct piece of software before continuing any further. I’ve included some links below linking to each wheel’s software page.
Once you’ve downloaded the correct software for your wheel, go ahead and install it. You will be able to launch the installer and follow the install wizard for each piece of software. After you’ve installed it, you can jump in and ensure that your racing wheel and pedals are being recognised.
Then, each piece of software lets you check and update the firmware to the latest version which is important. Firmware updates can carry improvements to your racing wheel and compatibility and big fixes.
So you’re racing wheel and pedals are connected to your PC and turned on, and you’ve installed the correct software. Next, the first thing to do is always calibrate them. This will ensure the correct inputs are being registered and highlight any issues.
Each piece of software goes about this in a different way. Some make you run through a manual calibration process. Others simply show your inputs in the control panel so you can check they are working and correctly calibrated.
The goal with calibration is to first check that inputs are being registered. Then ensure that your pedals are registering the full range of movement, and your wheel rotation is being recorded correctly. With some software such as Fanatec’s control panel, you can manually calibrate your wheel center. Doing this will ensure that your wheel tracks straight.
Once calibration is complete and you’re happy everything is working, you can look to fine-tune some of the force feedback settings. Generally, each piece of software has different force feedback settings. Then, in iRacing itself, you can also tweak the in-game force feedback.
But always change your wheel’s own settings first. Choosing the best settings will make sure your wheel is performing at its best for iRacing. Below are links to our recommended iRacing wheel settings for a variety of racing wheels.
All of the settings in the pages above can be input into your software to really optimise how the force feedback feels and performs.
The guides that I linked above also include recommended iRacing in-game wheel settings. You can change iRacing settings after jumping into any session. I’d recommend starting iRacing and launching a practice session. I’d also recommend choosing a car which you’re likely to be racing.
As soon as you launch into a session with a new racing wheel, iRacing will run through a quick setup wizard. This will prompt you to turn your racing wheel and press each pedal to calibrate it in iRacing.
Once your wheel calibration is complete, you’ll see a link to the options screen. Here, you can change a wide selection of settings. The ones that we want to focus on right now are the steering and force feedback settings.
You should make sure that your steering wheel range is set to match your choice in your wheel’s software. This should normally be set to 900° for most cars but can be lowered to 360° for open-wheeled cars, or somewhere in between.
Then, head down to the force feedback settings, and refer back to the links above. Use the settings that I recommend in those guides for your racing wheel. When you’re happy, click done to save your settings.
Setting up your pedals follows a similar process to setting up your racing wheel above. The calibration for pedals is often more important than the calibration process for a racing wheel. It’ll normally consist of you having to press each pedal to its fullest and release to ensure that the full range of movement is recorded and correctly set up.
Follow this calibration procedure in your pedal’s software. On PC, you can use pedals from a different brand to your steering wheel, so you may often need to download different software to calibrate your pedals.
Then, back in iRacing, you should have calibrated your pedals for the first time when launching into a race or practice session as I mentioned above. Again, this just involves fully pressing each pedal and releasing as well as selecting if you’re using a physical clutch or not.
Outside of this calibration, there isn’t much else in iRacing to set up for your pedals. Most of the heavy lifting is done via your pedal’s software. In your software, you can normally adjust deadzones as well as the input curves of each pedal.
During the calibration process in iRacing, you’ll be asked what type of shifter you’re using. You can choose between paddle shifters, sequential or H-patten with a clutch. You’ll be asked to push the button for shifting up and down to assign it correctly in iRacing.
The only thing you need to do here is to ensure that you choose the correct form of shifting and that your input is correctly set up. If you want to change your shifting type after assigning it, you can do so using the gearbox settings in the options screen.
One of the key settings that you’ll need to get just right is your field of view (FOV). This determines the camera position when driving from inside the cockpit, as well as the distance to elements around the track. Using the incorrect FOV settings can distort your viewport, make certain elements appear too large or too small or impact your sense of speed.
There is a science to achieving the correct field of view, and it comes down to both the size and style of your display and your distance from the screen. If you have a larger monitor or if you’re running triple screen monitors, you will almost certainly need a different FOV setting than someone using a smaller single screen monitor.
You can change your field of view in iRacing in the options menu. This is the same screen where we adjusted our wheel and pedal settings earlier. There is also a handy automatic calculator in iRacing which will help you determine the best field of view setting.
In the graphics tab at the bottom of the options popup, there is a display section right at the top. This will allow you to adjust your screen resolution and various graphics settings. On the right of this screen, you can input your display size.
Quickly go ahead and measure your monitor width along with the distance between your head and the monitor. iRacing will then tell you what FOV setting it recommends. You can then head over to the options screen to input this recommended FOV.
Now, iRacing’s recommendation may not quite be 100% accurate, but it will get you into the correct ballpark. From here, you can make smaller adjustments to your FOV until you’re happy with what you see.
One thing that will almost certainly have changed while adjusting your iRacing FOV settings is your seat position. You may find yourself incredibly close to the windshield and unable to see your dash or your mirrors to the side.
I’d recommend going ahead and adjusting your seat position forward and backward to get the correct distance. You can also change your seat height so you aren’t sitting too low that you can’t see over the hood of your car, or too high that you can’t see your full dash.
The quickest way to adjust your seat position in iRacing is to open the cockpit menu while you’re sitting in the pit lane. Do this by pressing CTRL + F12. You can then use the shortcuts of X, Y and Z to move your seat position. Be sure to save the settings to your car after adjusting these settings.
Right, so we have the correct wheel and pedal settings now, and we should have found the best field of view. All we need to adjust now are the graphics settings in iRacing and then we’ll be good to head out onto track.
iRacing runs on a very dated game engine, which means it will almost never look as good as games such as Assetto Corsa Competizione or F1 23. This also means that you can typically set your graphics settings higher than you would in those games.
Back in the graphics settings screen in the options, you’ll find a load of settings under the performance tab. Here, you can change the overall quality, as well as the quality of different details from particles to car textures.
Generally, the choice here is how much you favour performance over graphics. In a game that is as competitive as iRacing, I would always ensure that performance is a priority. Aiming for at least 60FPS is key to being able to make split-second decisions on track.
To hit this, you may need to sacrifice some quality or lower some graphics settings. However, if you’re running a powerful GPU such as a 40 series RTX card, you’ll most likely be able to run most settings at their maximum setting. As I mentioned, iRacing isn’t overly demanding in the graphics department.
Before buying iRacing, always make sure that your PC can run it, and that it does meet iRacing’s minimum system requirements.
OK, now for the fun part. Everything should be set up which will allow you to get out on track. The next decision comes in the form of which car you want to jump into. And a lot of this comes down to which cars you own, and which series you want to race in.
iRacing has a wide number of series with over 100 cars to choose from. When you first install iRacing, you’ll have a choice of 19 cars, which includes the legendary Mazda MX-5 Cup car, the Formula Vee car as well as a variety of dirt and road cars.
If it’s your first time in iRacing, I’d really recommend starting with the Mazda MX-5 Cup, the Toyota GR86 or the Formula Vee. Each of these cars features in the rookie series and should be looked at as the perfect cars to get you acclimatised with iRacing.
If you have been iRacing for a while, or if you’re returning after a break, you may wish to try a new or different car. To do this, you’ll need to purchase a new car from the iRacing store. This can be done either through the iRacing app or on the iRacing member’s site.
Whichever route you choose, head into the store, and browse the car list. You can filter this list via series, or car type to find exactly what you’re looking for. When you find a car, simply add it to your cart and checkout. You can then pay via card or gift card.
Once you have made the purchase, simply restart iRacing and you’ll be prompted to download the new car or track that you’ve just purchased. Read our complete how-to guide, for a more detailed guide on buying cars in iRacing.
The first stop when downloading iRacing for the first time is always the rookie series. This is an entry-level series that you need to complete to be able to start competing in a wider range of series. You can complete your rookie series in a range of cars including the Mazda MX-5 Cup or Formula Vee.
It’s important to note that there are four individual licenses in iRacing, one for each different racing discipline. Each of these progresses individually, so you will need to complete four different rookie series if you wish to earn your class D license in all disciplines. These iRacing disciplines are;
In my guide to iRacing series, I run through all of the different series in much more detail to help you choose the direction to progress your iRacing career. I would highly recommend reading that guide for a deeper dive into iRacing series and which to choose.
Once you’ve spent some time on the track, and found the car you wish to use for an upcoming series, it’s time to try and get an advantage over other competitors. The first way of doing this is to practice and improve. However, another great way to improve your speed in iRacing is optimising your car setup.
Having a good car setup in iRacing can make a huge difference to your car’s overall speed, as well as its balance and the way it handles. A good car setup will allow you to not only find lap time but also give you the confidence to push your car whilst remaining consistent.
Changing and optimising your car setup can help tune out some negative tendencies that your car may have. If it oversteers too much on the corner exit, tends to lock a wheel on the entry or always understeers, you can tune these characteristics out via your car setup.
If you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of how to set up a car in iRacing, you may never want to touch your car setup. If you do fall into this camp, there are plenty of places that offer either free or premium car setups for a variety of cars in iRacing.
iRacing setup shops often allow you to download optimised car setups for specific cars in iRacing. These setups are designed to make cars as easy to drive and as competitive as possible.
Setup shops come in various forms. Some offer completely free iRacing setups, however, these are generally harder to find and the quality of the setup varies wildly.
Premium setup shops often sell individual setups for a single car on a single track, or as a complete bundle which includes a variety of tracks for a single car. iRacing setup bundles are often the most cost-effective way to purchase setups as you’ll get all of the setups you need for a single series.
Then there are iRacing setup subscriptions. Various setup shops sell iRacing setups in this way, and this can be a fantastic option if you often jump between different cars or race regularly.
iRacing setup subscriptions offer a huge number of different setups that you can download as and when you need them, all for a single monthly fee. Most allow you to cancel and pause your subscription if you take a break from iRacing or don’t need the setups for a while.
Below are a few iRacing setup shops which I have used and would recommend.
|Coach Dave Academy||Subscription||£8.99 p/m|
|Virtual Racing School||Subscription||€9.99 p/m|
|Craig’s Setup Shop||Subscription||$5.00 p/m|
|Premier Racing Setups||Individual & Bundles||From $8.00|
|Majors Garage||Individual Setups||Free & Paid|
If you don’t fancy purchasing premium iRacing setups and would like to tinker yourself, there are a wide range of setup options to tweak. After all, premium iRacing car setups may not work for everyone. Creating your own car setup will allow you to tailor the car to your individual driving style.
Some of the areas of your car setup that you can change in iRacing include the tyres, your car’s aero, suspension and chassis. All of these changes can have a big impact on how your car’s behaviour, and they all link together. Changing one part of your car setup will often necessitate the need to change another.
One of the biggest parts of your car’s behaviour that you’ll often want to tune is its tendency to understeer or oversteer into and out of a corner. While car setups let you affect your car’s handling in many other areas, these two areas are the easiest things you can tune that will make a difference in how your car behaves.
Fixing these two issues can be done using various parts of your car setup. Your tyre pressures, suspension setup and aero setup all impact these two characteristics.
While understeering typically happens on the entry to a corner and oversteer is associated with corner exit, this isn’t exclusive. You can often get oversteer on the entry to a corner, typically related to too little rear downforce or an incorrect suspension setup.
You can also experience understeer on the exit of a corner. When you accelerate out of a corner and your car doesn’t rotate, this is corner-exit understeer. This happens often in front-wheel drive cars, and can be related to your differential or suspension setup.
I want to give a few change recommendations that you can make if you are experience understeer or oversteer at any stage of a corner. You can try to apply some of these changes in your iRacing setup to see if they help.
Corner entry understeer
Corner exit understeer
Corner entry oversteer
Corner exit oversteer
There are a whole range of other car characteristics that you can tweak using your car setup. If you want to learn how to tune your car in iRacing in more detail, read our complete iRacing car setup guide here.
If you’re looking to take iRacing to the next level, there are some additional pieces of software that you can install to improve your experience. The first of those is Crew Chief. This is a piece of software that I would highly recommend downloading and it’s completely free to do so.
Crew Chief is designed to replace the spotter in iRacing with a much better engineer. Within Crew Chief, you can select different voices, and completely customise how they operate and what information they’ll tell you.
The engineer in Crew Chief can call out cars around you, just like the iRacing spotter does. They can also give you information about the session, your position, laps remaining and give you car updates. You can also choose your engineer’s level of profanity and whether they’ll get mad at you if you make a mistake.
For a complete guide on how to set up Crew Chief in iRacing, check out my comprehensive walkthrough.
You may also want to make your car stand out from the crowd on race day. While you can change your car’s livery and paint scheme in iRacing itself, customisation is very limited. This is where Trading Paints comes in.
Trading Paints is another piece of free software which allows you to import custom liveries into iRacing. Installing Trading Paints will also let you see the custom liveries of other drivers around you.
To install Trading Paints, head over to their website and install their software. This is relatively lightweight and simply sits in the background and enables custom liveries in iRacing.
Then, to choose a livery, you can head on over to TradingPaints.com and find a livery you like. You’ll have to create a free account to be able to download a livery which will ask you to link your iRacing account.
Browse the showroom until you find a livery you like. Select it and then click “Race this paint” which will automatically install it and add it to your car in iRacing.
When it comes to improving, simply competing in weekly iRacing events will help you become faster over time. If you want to take things to the next level, you can start to track your telemetry. This is a great way to compare lap times and see where you’re fast and where you’re losing time.
The Virtual Racing School Telemetry Logger is my go-to telemetry platform. It’s free to sign up to and will give you much more in-depth stats about your sessions than you’ll ever find in iRacing itself.
Using the telemetry, you can share your lap times and racing line with others to compare. This lets you read up and research before a big race and share data with a team if you’re competing in an endurance race.
Hopefully, all of the knowledge above will help you through your first steps in iRacing. The goal today was to create the best and most comprehensive iRacing setup guide to show you how to install, choose the best iRacing settings and take your first few laps.
You can use the links below to shop for your favourite sim racing products, or for any products that we may have recommended. These links are affiliate links, and will earn us a small commission, with no additional cost for you.
iRacing is not an overly demanding game. Most modern PC’s will be able to run iRacing and achieve good performance. The minimum PC requirements include an i5-4430 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor, 16GB of RAM and a GTX 1060 or AMD RX580.
An iRacing membership costs $13 per month without any discounts. And a decent sim racing setup including racing wheel and pedals can be purchased for around $500. Of course, you can spend a lot more on better sim racing equipment or a lot less.
Unfortunately, you will always need an active iRacing subscription to play iRacing both online and offline.
There are a lot of systems in iRacing with very little in way of a tutorial. This means it can be fairly daunting to start as a beginner. However, taking your time and learning each system individually lets you take iRacing at your own pace.
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