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iRacing is regarded as the gold standard for competitive sim racing. No other simulation features a comparable, dedicated multiplayer system that treats the races like real events. RaceDepartment writer Yannik Haustein is taking his first, long-overdue steps in the sim now and takes you along with him – starting in rookies, of course.

Better late than never – that sums it up rather well in my case regarding iRacing. I have had my eye on the sim for quite a while, mostly because of several YouTubers like Jimmy Broadbent. Only after making the jump from consoles to PC I seriously thought about getting into iRacing, the relatively high costs kept me from getting started, however – until now. I noticed quickly: Especially in rookies, there is no need to spend more money than the subscription fee.

Getting Started

The download of the sim was completed quickly, but the roughly 30 gigabytes of updates took a while. Unlike other sims, iRacing relies less on in-game menus but rather on a dedicated launcher UI, where sim racers can register for races, set up their sim or customize their virtual driver and vehicle liveries.

Initially, this seems a bit overwhelming. However, the UI is relatively self-explanatory, and the same is true for the racing license: Newcomers start out with two license points for ovals and road courses, which are divided into dirt and paved surfaces respectively. This value is the safety rating for each class which can be increased rather quickly by driving clean races, which is important to make the jump into the next license class, which in turn gives you access to more series with different cars and tracks.

On Track

The necessary settings to get onto the virtual race track, such as button mappings, were quickly taken care of after starting a session. The first steps followed in a Formula Vee practice session at Tsukuba Circuit. This wingless mini-monoposto is not particularly fast – it is made for beginners, after all. And even for myself, who has years of sim racing experience, there was a bit of a learning curve – its magic third gear, for example, which works best for the car in most cases. Once you are in that gear, shifting is barely necessary, which is a good way for beginners to familiarize themselves with using a manual transmission.

In addition to the Formula Vee, I frequently stumbled upon Mazda MX-5 Cup sessions – another good vehicle on the first step at the start of your iRacing career: Tsukuba, Okayama and Oran Park were the first locations where I took to the grid.

Approaching the sim with prior knowledge and experience allows you to increase your license points to the point of qualifying for a D-License in no time. Despite several smaller collisions and off-road excursions it took me just five races to get out of rookies this way – while not even once finishing on the podium. It is not just speed that counts.

What I Learned
  • You can start your iRacing career perfectly fine with just the free content. In rookies, there are enough options to find your feet in the sim, and even for higher classes, there are cars like the Dallara DW-12 IndyCar.
  • Fixed Setups make sense, especially for beginner vehicles. I usually prefer some freedom in setups, but to get going, it is much nicer to be able to concentrate on your driving. There is still time to explore setups once you are used to the sim.
  • Despite the serious approach the sim takes compared to other multiplayer sims, there are drivers that are more at home in arcade games and who always see other drivers in the wrong in iRacing as well. My advice for newcomers: Do not let them get to you and just switch off the chat.
  • Show respect to your fellow competitors, leave enough space when battling for position and do not behave like you own the track – victory is not everything! A clean race without incidents is worth more than the top step on the podium that is the result of collisions.
About author
Yannik Haustein
Life-long motorsports and racing game fan as well as racing history enthusiast. I write stuff here and on www.simracing-unlimited.com and try to be not too mediocre when sim racing with varying degrees of success :confused:

Comments

I hate to see iRacing slowly becoming the only sim that is worth attention. Because as they say "in future you'll own nothing and will be happy about it".
To be honest it is this crappy business model that makes the game still breath for so long.

On the other hand of the spectrum, we have Aces High 3, with a 15/month sub model that hasn't has updates in years.
 
one little aspect not mentioned but a bit distracting for newcomers: you only get to see the magic numbers (iRating and Safety Rating) once you are out of rookies and into D-licence. I never figured why. Or do I remember that wrong? Other than that: Looking forward to further reports and: "Keep pushing!"
 
one little aspect not mentioned but a bit distracting for newcomers: you only get to see the magic numbers (iRating and Safety Rating) once you are out of rookies and into D-licence. I never figured why. Or do I remember that wrong? Other than that: Looking forward to further reports and: "Keep pushing!"
Yep, you are right.
No iR or SR before E-licence
 
Funny, I never hear anybody complain how expensive motorsports is.
It's steep price, but don't take them down for it.
They provide a plug and play racing service.
Any idea how much running such a big system costs?
Especially nowadays when you need a team monitoring the system 24/7 for security reasons.
They need to keep updating all the content.
Not a single developer comes close to their competition system.
Because it's so damn expensive.
 
And there I was wondering what to ask the wife to get me for Christmas...problem solved by RD ! Good article, look forward to Part 2
 
50% off all membership up until Dec 4th. Year turns out to $4.58 a month.

I did the same as the article about 3 years ago. Haven't touched anything seriously since.
FYI 50% off new subscriptions has been running year round of late, 25% off renewing subscription till Dec 4th for the black Friday sale.

I'll be grabbing a 2yr subscription.

Im actually surprised to see an iRacing article done here on RD...well done!

Ive really been enjoying iracing since the season 4 tire update along with the multiple racing desciplines and variety the game offers.

Also looking forward to future ffb/physics builds with the latest edition to the team Terence Groening originally from ISI.
 
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irenting.. the absolute worst business model of any business model in the world. The fact that that people will willingly throw their money to this company to rent their tracks and cars to use only while they're paying a monthly subscription fee gives adage to the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute".
 
irenting.. the absolute worst business model of any business model in the world. The fact that that people will willingly throw their money to this company to rent their tracks and cars to use only while they're paying a monthly subscription fee gives adage to the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute".
Worst Business Model of any Business Model in the World??? LOL....Seriously? they have thousands of thousands of Members and IRacing is by far the most driven Sim in the world when it comes to competitive Online Racing. I think they nail their Business Model Perfectly otherwise IRacing wouldnt be what it is now;)
 
Worst Business Model of any Business Model in the World??? LOL....Seriously? they have thousands of thousands of Members and IRacing is by far the most driven Sim in the world when it comes to competitive Online Racing. I think they nail their Business Model Perfectly otherwise IRacing wouldnt be what it is now;)
Another way of thinking about it - it could be this very business model that ensures only the more serious and dedicated sim racers run iRacing. I very rarely have as good a race in other sims as I do in an official iRace. Just my humble opinion.
 
I purchased a year, but have barely touched it because the feeling in my CSL Elite is so numb, like it has 0 feedback unless I stamp myself into a wall... I've followed the guidelines, tried the recommended settings on Fanatec Forums and a few others, they are all still the same...

Anyone have some recommendations? Or ideas on what to look for?
 
Another way of thinking about it - it could be this very business model that ensures only the more serious and dedicated sim racers run iRacing. I very rarely have as good a race in other sims as I do in an official iRace. Just my humble opinion.
Yes I agree....their Businessmodel keeps a lot of people away from the Service who dont wanna take it that serious and thats a big part from IRacing's success.
 
I purchased a year, but have barely touched it because the feeling in my CSL Elite is so numb, like it has 0 feedback unless I stamp myself into a wall... I've followed the guidelines, tried the recommended settings on Fanatec Forums and a few others, they are all still the same...

Anyone have some recommendations? Or ideas on what to look for?

Try increasing the minimum force value. I think I have mine around 15%. Also the MX5 does not have the most feedback in general compared to other cars.
 
I purchased a year, but have barely touched it because the feeling in my CSL Elite is so numb, like it has 0 feedback unless I stamp myself into a wall... I've followed the guidelines, tried the recommended settings on Fanatec Forums and a few others, they are all still the same...

Anyone have some recommendations? Or ideas on what to look for?

If you're used to something like Assetto Corsa for example, it'll feel a little different because iRacing only models the torque at the steering rack and it doesn't add any additional artificial forces that many other sims add (usually to give a more "seat of pants" feeling, but it's not entirely realistic). It also sounds like you had the FFB too low for the car you were driving...in iRacing, you have to adjust FFB for each car individually. Best way I've found to do it (Set the FFB level on your CSL to 100 or the highest level you can handle):

1) Go to settings and make sure FFB level is labelled as "Max Force" and not "Strength". To change it, just click on the word Strength. It should change to Max Force and the slider values should be measured in Nm.
2) Jump in the car.
3) Press Alt + K. This brings up every overlay in the game so you can click and reposition them. Move the FPS/System/FFB box closer to the center of your screen, so you can keep an eye on the FFB meter while driving. Press Alt + K again when done.
4) Open the "Graphics Adjustments" Black Box and go down to FFB Max Force at the bottom. keep it there so you can adjust it while driving (I'm assuming you have Black Box controls mapped to the funkyswitch).
5) Drive a couple laps at decent speed and watch the FFB meter. Going through corners that meter should be yellow or orange and hitting at least 75%. Based on your description, it's probably much lower.
6) Adjust the FFB Max Force to a LOWER number to increase the FFB. If the FFB meter starts turning red in corners that means it's hitting 100% or higher; in that case set Max Force to a HIGHER number to decrease the FFB. It sounds weird but when you understand how it's implemented it'll make sense:

The Nm number is telling iRacing how much in-game torque at the steering rack should represent 100% FFB. So if it's set to 80Nm...you won't feel a big jolt in your wheel until something causes the steering column to move at 80 Nm of torque (like crashing into a wall ;))...so other forces like normal driving would feel very numb in comparison (usually around 20 to 30Nm in the hardest non-powersteering cars like F1/Indycar, and less in other cars with power-steering like the MX-5 or GT3 cars). It's actually a more realistic representation of forces at the wheel; which is why IRL drivers release the wheel just before a big hit...the wheel could easily break their fingers at that strength.

7) Once complete, move the FFB meter out of the way (Alt + K) and you're good to go for that car. Rinse and repeat for every new car.

Hope this helps!
 
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irenting.. the absolute worst business model of any business model in the world. The fact that that people will willingly throw their money to this company to rent their tracks and cars to use only while they're paying a monthly subscription fee gives adage to the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute".
iRacing was around before any of the other sims in common use today and, because of their business model, they can continuously improve it, add new content, and attract an ever growing membership. In a few years when everyone has stopped playing ACC, AMS2, rF2, etc. iRacing will still be there providing superior value.
 
iRacing is basically the only sim that actually tries new stuff these days, thanks to their subscription model bringing...constant revenue. Dynamic track, dirt oval racing, short course off-road racing, rain in the future, a semi-soft-body damage system...there's basically ZERO innovation in new sims these days. I respect iRacing for that alone. Everyone else is just spinning their wheels or adding in **** that we already had years ago (ACC has rain and night...big whoop, so did GTR2 literally 15+ years earlier!) but got abandoned because it was more profitable to ignore that stuff.

What else is there to look forward to? AC2 is nowhere to be seen, AMS2 is just AMS with PC2's engine and featureset, Project Cars itself is a completely mismanaged mess that's probably dead (and was a completely incoherent mess when alive), RF2 has been steadily going down the drain since S397 took over, ACC is basically finished, the new Nascar game is a tire fire of epic proportions, Raceroom is pretty good but still just a really solid gmotor sim without much in the way of fancy new features or innovations, F1 and Dirt/WRC are going to be absolutely butchered by EA, etc. Simracing is just in an incredibly boring rut right now except for iRacing.
 
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