Sim Racing Tips

iRacing Beginner: What To Do For Your First Race On iRacing

So, you’re getting ready for your first race on iRacing? Wondering where to start? One of the team here at Track Titan was too! So, in this article, he’ll share his experience of starting out on iRacing and walk you through the need-to-knows and any tips for someone in the same position.

Hey there! My name is Kieran and I recently joined Track Titan as a content creator. I have done a fair bit of virtual racing over the years but I’d never played iRacing because until now, I didn’t have a computer powerful enough to run games. 

Anyway, throughout this, i’ll share my experience on iRacing and we’ll be running through the following points:

  • What is iRacing?
  • Why iRacing is different
  • iRating System
  • Licence and Incident System
  • Choosing a car and track
  • Pre-Race Tips
  • Race Tips
  • Racing Etiquette
  • My first race experience

What Is iRacing?

iRacing is one of those games that is discussed by every sim racing forum and content creator on the internet; but unless you’ve driven it yourself, you don’t really understand why. It has a mix of cars and tracks; so does assetto corsa, rFactor, Raceroom and Gran Turismo. It has realistic feedback through your wheel; so does Assetto Corsa Competizione. It has league racing; so do the F1 games! 

The difference is that you cannot think of iRacing as a conventional game. It’s a league. 

Unfortunately, motorsport is expensive, so buying a car, converting it to a race car, storing, maintaining and working on it is out of the question for most people. iRacing allows you to have the most authentic motorsport experience possible without doing it for real.

This is the most important thing to know when going into iRacing for the first time. It’s not a normal game where you can bump into someone, get an in-game warning and just quit the lobby if it’s not going your way. There are consequences to your actions in the form of incident points. Incident points are given for any contact, spinning the car or going off track. They are given out during qualifying and race sessions, but not practice sessions. 

A Typical Rookie iRacing Race

iRacing also has licences too. Unlike the Gran Turismo licences, they aren’t based on completing an easy task but instead it’s based on your skill and safety level as a driver. The skill and safety levels contribute towards your iRating which is the system that helps to determine what licence you’re eligible for. Speed is based on lap time, and safety is based on the incident points you accumulate during sessions.

Before The Race

After I’d learnt about the licences and incident points in particular, I decided to do some practice sessions first. This is something I’d 100% recommend to anyone joining iRacing for the first time; take a look at the races you’re eligible to enter, and set up a practice session with the same car and track combination you will be racing with. 

You should also base this decision on where you’re wanting to go. If you’re more into touring cars, or perhaps looking to drive the prototype hypercar route, then something like the Mazda MX-5 is an excellent choice. At this stage, you will want to start with something ideally you’re already familiar with, or at least have an idea of how it’ll handle.

I chose the Formula Vee and Virginia International Raceway as my entrance into the iRacing world. Primarily because it was a car and track I was already somewhat familiar with, which will help decrease the already steep learning curve. With iRacing, the feedback, and general feel of driving is almost in a league of one. It punishes you as a driver similarly to real life. The realistic lift-off oversteer in particular will leave you facing backwards on more than one occasion. 

During practice, you should drive however many laps it takes for you to get into a consistent groove where you know your braking, turning and accelerating points enough to take part in your first online race. For me, it took about 20 minutes to lap consistently and then another 30 minutes to find a good pace that I was happy with. 

Everyone is different. Some people will pick it up far quicker than me, and others might be the same. However, from the race that followed, I’m very glad I took the time to find my pace first.

My First Race On iRacing

The most important thing to remember when entering your first race is that you are now susceptible to those incident points. Any collision, off-track excursion or spin will add towards keeping your licence level down. 

I went into my first race knowing this, and walked away with 14 incident points. A few of which were caused by me spinning or running wide and going off-track, but the rest were collisions. One thing you must remember is that when you are a rookie, your competitors will be rookies too. Most likely, they will have come from games like Gran Turismo or F1 open lobbies (and the less said about those the better). 

Because of this, you will need to take extra care and attention in order to keep your incident points down. As I’ve been partial to a fair bit of virtual racing in the past, I found myself naturally defending hard against competitors that perhaps were unsure how to safely attack. So if there’s one thing I can recommend for your first race is that if you think you are leaving enough space, leave some more! 

During the race, find the groove that you found in practice and try to keep your nose clean. There will be plenty of incidents for other drivers; the less incident points you collect, the sooner you can race with safer drivers.

Because I’d done the practice session, once I was free and clear of the incidents, I got into my groove and actually claimed the fastest lap of the race. It was a small consolation for the numerous collisions I was involved in. But my one clear recommendation from this is to leave more room than you think. Play it safer rather than aggressive to start with; just until you build up your confidence and your iRating.

Fastest Lap In First Race

So that’s pretty much all you need to know about partaking in your first iRacing race. Yours of course will differ from mine; hopefully yours is cleaner! But, remember, play it safe, be consistent, keep your incident points low and have fun!

Next Up: Why not take a look at our top tips as a beginner on iRacing?

iRacing Beginner Guide