About iRacing


[Note – this is work in progress, page will likely be extended in the future]

Table of content

 

Introduction

iRacing is, as most of you here would know, a racing simulator that aims to be as realistic as possible physics wise. Whether or not they actually succeed in being more realistic than other sims, is always up for debate, but iRacing is also much more: It is a huge community for online racing, with thoroughly laid out rules of conduct, means of facilitating cleaner driver than other sims, measurements of both speed/ability to finish well and “car control/on track behaviour”. There is also a ladder system, and finally a series for the very best top drivers where a world champion is crowned. All this contribute to a serious racing environment, in some senses resembling real world racing – and in other senses not. Anyhow, many members appreciate this environment, and many rise to the challenge and improve their knowledge and skills a lot. Finally, it is not uncommon to find new friends in the iRacing community!

The intention of this page is to gather lots of useful information, thus giving important insight into how iRacing works. With the goal, of course, of giving you all the best possible experience. Many seasoned drivers already know of almost all of this, but I’m certain there will be something new for many of you.

Note that all links to members.iracing.com require iRacing membership.

Rookie

Let’s start off with a link to a collection of links. John Bodin is known for being helpful to rookies, here is one of his contributions:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1354827.page#2946101
That post includes an important quote from (owner) John Henry: “As a rookie your goal is to get out of rookie.” Furthermore, it includes a link to the sporting code (basically the rules we need to follow, read these!), beginners guide, user guide etc. As well as many links regarding how to survive rookie, optimal FFB settings, importance of framerate, plus lots and lots of more stuff.

Direct link to the sporting code, which is actually mandatory to have read:
http://membersmedia.iracing.com/pdfs/FIRST_Sporting_Code_v2013.07.23.01.pdf

Remember that, unlike most other virtual racing experiences, all opponents in iRacing are human beings. Treat them as such, don’t treat them like AI. Most people don’t like to be crashed out on purpose, neither do they appreciate that you plan on using them as brakes in the upcoming turn. Treat your opponents with respect, and you will also earn respect. And perhaps gain a few friends in the process!

Ratings and statistics

Your background may be from other racing games/sims, but iRacing really is a different beast. There’s just so much more to it than anything else I know. One aspect of iRacing is the huuuge amount of statistics available – pretty much everything you do online is recorded. These are not just for joy, each driver gets two separate ratings for both oval and road:

iRating – a measurement of how good you are at finishing well. While there of course is a correlation between iRating and raw speed, you will notice it is equally important to avoid crashes. While iRating may sometimes be used for bragging, it’s intention is to group together drivers of similar skills. Both regarding championships, where we are all placed in divisions based on rating at the start of the season, but also who to field us together with in races. Simply put: If for a time slot there are too many drivers signed up for one single race, the race will be split into several parallell races. In the top split go the highest rated drivers, and this continues until the bottom split with the lowest rated drivers. So, for races with good participation, you are likely to find somebody roughly around your own level to battle with. Note, however, that higher rated drivers usually have better car control, making it desirable to reach higher splits – unless you don’t like to be in the back of the field most of the time. Notice also that there may be greater egos and less considerate in the top split, so you are not guaranteed to always find the best racing there.

Safety rating – a measurement of your car control and abilities of avoiding trouble. You will get punished each time you go off track, spin, hit a wall or hit another car. Note that due to the practically impossible task of automatically choosing correctly a guilty party in every accident, iRacing has chosen to make this a no-fault system. Any incident, no matter if your own fault or not, count. Many find this unfair, others find that this improves their line of thinking, and that they now are much better at spotting trouble and avoiding it. Thus also finishing in a better position. The safety rating, or SR for short, is what qualifies you for the different classes. You start off as rookie, with access to rookie series, and may move up to class D, class C, class B and class A. Pro/WC is a different category, though, with other rules for qualifying.

Dennis Grebe’s “An introduction to the SR System”:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/2220.page

John Bodin’s “Rookie Race Tips: Putting SR Into Perspective”:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/2215.page

Now, links to some of the statistics pages:

Driver statistics can be found here:
http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/DriverLookup.do

World records for each car/track combination can be found here (notice that physics change each season, meaning it may be unfair to compare with older times):
http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/worldrecords.jsp

Cars, tracks and classes

As a rookie, you have access to a few free cars and tracks, plus the rookie series. Usually these “go official” around the clock, simply enter and drive. Although, it is highly recommended to practice and prepare first… The selection of tracks is limited, thus not so many tracks you need to learn. A series stay on one track one week at a time (not counting week 13). Rookie championships last four weeks, while other championships last 12 weeks. Each of these 12 weeks are referred to as a “season”.

Now, if you do your homework and improve your safety rating, while also participating in enough races, you move up to higher classes. Now you will “unlock” other cars and series, but only a few of the cars and relevant tracks are free. This means that you may wish to buy some cars and tracks. Now, before you do that, you should actually consider what you need, and you should have a look at participation in the series that interest you. Unlike rookie, higher class series don’t necessarily go official all the time. Some usually do, others have more selected time slots. From for example here, you can have a look at each series and see its participation and results, and what looks like good time slots:
http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/Series.do
But, even better, this website has the key numbers you probably look for:
http://www.iracer.info/

Note also that you get discounts for buying packs of three or six (or more) items together, and even more discounts when you reach large quantities of items owned.

To “complete” a season, you need to have entered at least one race for at least eight of the twelve weeks. Your best eight weeks count towards your total score, the others are referred to as “drop weeks”. And, to get participation credits, I believe you need to have finished at least 50% race distance in at least one race for at least eight weeks. Participation credits is a cool thing, basically you get credits that you can spend on buying cars/tracks (or host sessions) through simply racing Does not count for rookie series, though.

When a season finished, we have one week of “downtime”, referred to as week 13. This is when iRacing deploys new versions of the software, so expect site unstability. Also, the racing is always different, look for each week 13’s program announced ahead. Generally, the official series during week 13 are quite dangerous for ratings, so the advice is to go with the fun series instead.

Economy

Since discounts have already been mentioned, why not add a few comments regarding economy? iRacing may be more expensive than you expect, at least it may seem quite expensive. But there is a lot to be saved if you know about the following:

1. Longer subscriptions cost less per month than shorter subscriptions. Look into that. Also, note the next point.
2. Usually twice a year, you can renew your subscription (or, technically, add one year to what you already have paid for) for one year for roughly half price. Ordinary price is 99$, but you can get away with 49$ or 50$ if you pay attention. Usually iRacing distribute mails to the members as a heads up. These renewals may usually be applied several times if you wish to commit for multiple years.
3. Every now and then, iRacing offers bonuses when you recharge your account. Typical amounts are 100$ for 75$ or 25$ for 20$. So, let’s say you pay 75$, get 100$, pay 49$ for a year of subscription, that leaves you 51$ for future subscriptions, content or hosted sessions.
4. If you don’t let your subscription run out, then every time you complete a (new) year of membership, you receive a bonus of 5$. So, 56$ on your account now, if we continue the example from previous point.
5. Participation credit: This does not count for rookie series, but higher levels actually give you credits if you complete a full season. Drop weeks apply, so you only need to enter a race 8 separate weeks during a season to “complete” it. Note that you need to complete at least 50% of the laps in your race (or in one of several races, if you enter more than once) every one of those 8 weeks. D and C class pay 4$ for completing a season, B and A 7$. Doesn’t matter if road or oval, and you may combine multiple series to add up to a greater total – which is limited at maximum 10$, though. So, 4+7=10, 4+4+4=10 etc. Now, remember there are four seasons every year, making a potential of 40$ credit. This, of course, is not something you can initially expect to receive without a cost up front, since you may need to buy some more content to be eligible at least 8 of the 12 weeks. However, for the sake of the argument, let’s say you get 40$, you now have 96$ remaining of your 75$ investment – this after one year of active subscription. Even though it takes time, members have actually been known to finance future car/track purchases through participation.
6. Now, as mentioned, you may need to (or simply want to) buy some more content, either cars or tracks. Notice then that if you buy multiple items at the same time, you get discounts. First discount comes at 3 items, next discount at 6 items. Perhaps it is a good idea to plan ahead for the series you wish to enter? Or check which tracks are frequently used across various series, like Watkins Glen. Furthermore, notice that the discount gets even better when you reach high total numbers of items owned – then you also get discount even if you buy only one item at the time.
7. A common mistake for multi class series is to think that you need to buy all cars to race just one of them. It used to be like that, but not anymore. If you wish to race the Cadillac (free car), you don’t need to buy the Kia, even if it participates in the same races.
8. If one day you find you wish to set up a league, or simply host races/practices, that also costs money. But you will find that if you host many sessions in a relatively short time frame, the price actually drops.

Also, remember this: While at first it seems that you need to buy a lot to get to race in the series you wish to race in, soon you will find that you already own most of the content needed even when you switch to new series. What is left then is the subscription, which you have now learned you can get quite cheap if you combine several tricks.

Official vs hosted

While the core of iRacing are the official series, that in part function as pickup racing, but usually a lot more prepared and it is part of a bigger context due to the championships, the ratings and the statistics.

Mostly excepted from the statistics, though, you find hosted racing:
http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/HostedSessions.do

Here you can find alternative pickup races, where ratings do not count, and you can find larger events from time to time like the World Cup, 24 hour races etc. There is also a league directory for those wishing to participate in leagues:
http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/LeagueDirectory.do

Usually it is a good idea to look in the forum for interesting events and leagues:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/forums/show/650.page

Hosted racing may be open to everybody, or may be closed to only invited drivers. Most racing here is free, however some choose to charge an entry fee, usually dedicated to prizes for the winners.

Norway has iracing.no for national events:
http://iracing.no/
https://www.facebook.com/iRacingNM

Sweden has Swedish Sim Racers:
http://www.swedishsimracers.com/

Denmark has iRacing Danmark:
http://iracingdanmark.dk/

Also, there may be Scandinavian events from time to time, like King of Vikings. The World Cup is an annual competition between each club (club = a country or region, as specified by iRacing), where Scandinavia has eventually started to improve a bit. This competition is open to all Scandinavians!

Find setups and help in the forums

The amount of knowledge you can find in the forums is nothing less than amazing. What is perhaps the best aid when running in a series, though, is looking the the “weekly threads”. Many series have regulars that for each week/track create a guide with key information, setups sharing, replays and discussions. In addition, you often find threads called “setups shops”, where you can go look for good setups. In addition, there’s Nick Thissen’s “iRacing Setup Sync”:
http://iracingsetups.nickthissen.nl/

Alternatively, if setups is not your cup of tea, you can always look for series with fixed setups.

Technical

Now, to have a good experience, you need everything technical to be working like intended. That includes correct settings for field of view (FOV) – an making this correct setting as large as possible, high framerate, sensible setting for force feedback (FFB).

This may be an initial place to look for FFB settings:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1500238.page

This one touches on graphics settings and FOV:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1817068.page

A personal remark: You want your FOV correct, but you also want the correct value to be as high as possible. You can achieve this through sitting closer to the screen, getting a bigger screen, or multiple screens. Or you could go with Oculus Rift.

Next, you should configure all buttons etc to your liking. Note that there are several important commands, like looking left and right, the pit limiter button, the mute driver button (if somebody goes completely loco during a race) etc. Regarding calibration of steering wheels, always calibrate for complete lock – if your wheel supports 900 degrees, use 900 degrees. The sim itself will limit your car to whatever the car’s limit is, making it perfectly in sync with the wheel on your screen (unless you have arms on, which will limit the visual wheel to 90 degrees each direction). The clutch you may wish to short calibrate, making it easier to reach “full clutch” and complete shifts.

While driving

There is a concept known as the black boxes, or the F-boxes due to the F-keys bringing them up. These give lots of useful information while driving. You can find session information (like how much time is remaining), look at the standings, see your distance relative to others (F3, the most famous box), see fuel level and plan refueling, plan tire changes, see tire status (readings are from previous stint, not live), then there are also some live settings and in-car settings. Get to know all of these boxes! In particular F3, which it is expected that people use during online sessions. It is invaluable when trying to reenter the track after an incident, or when exiting pits!

While many find it distracting during races, the delta bar is quite useful while practicing. Bring it up by pressing TAB (unless you reconfigure), and choose what kind of comparisons you wish to make. I usually prefer comparing my current lap with my “all time optimal lap”. This will then instantly show when I gain/lose time compared to my previous best attempts, being quite valuable in improving lines and technique. You may also turn on a ghost of your own laps, if you wish (I find that distracting, though).

Now, if you damage your car while racing, you can enter the pits and perhaps get some damage repaired. This depends on how damaged your car is, and the time it takes also depends on damage and if you need to/wish to repair it all. Repairs are split in mandatory (to avoid “meatball flag” and optional. It is up to you to decide if you want the optional repairs. Of course, your car will handle better the more repairs you do, but it takes time. Also, there’s no guarantee that your car will be like new again anyhow. Unless you are in a hosted session or lower class session where you have one or more “fast tows”/”fast repairs” available. Then you can instantly get a fresh new car brought to you. Tip: Disable refueling and tire changes when you get a new car, otherwise you will lose lots of time in the pits.

If you wish to pit, you have two options: Either drive into the pits, or get a virtual tow. You get a tow by resetting (configure a useful button for this), this brings you directly to pits, where you will first have to wait a certain amount of time based on how far from the pits you were. You may also press ESC with much the same effect. The difference is that you will instantly get out of the car, and need to click back into it.

While the sim supports in-game voice chat, many find that it is useful to install Teamspeak to communicate with team members, club members or friends. This of course also makes it possible to communicate between and outside of sessions. A Scandinavian server exists with the following address: 81.166.54.165:9987, no password required. So far, this server has been used only in connection with events, but with time hopefully it can become a natural meeting point for online racers!

Since all driving is done online, and people are spread over the world, every driver has a certain ping. That is the time it takes from data packets to go between the server and the driver’s computer. Since these values are high enough to make an impact (light speed isn’t fast enough!!!), the sim needs to make predictions as to where cars actually are (known as prediction code). The higher a driver’s ping, the more likely it is that the predictions will fail a bit from time to time. This means that, based on which server you are on, your own ping and others’ pings, you may need to be careful about going too close. Usually you are fine in slower cars, and need to be more careful in faster cars. Also, there are more troubles with Australians than other Europeans (when racing on the Dutch server, at least). A crash that shouldn’t have occurred, but still did, can be referred to as a lag hit, or less precisely “netcode”.

Many do not understand why these hits can happen, and get angry. Try not to… Instead, read this post I made regaridng understand prediction code:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/50/3215889.page#7438231

Protests

Behave well, treat other drivers with respect, don’t swear on the microphone and don’t threaten people, don’t publicly try to shame others, don’t cheat, and you will be fine. Otherwise, you may get protested, which means that iRacing will review the incident/situation, and you *may* receive punishment in form of removed chat or forum rights, suspension from racing for a while, or outright lose your account (only for the worst of the worst cases, like cheating).

Also, if you find that others do not treat you according to the rules defined by the sporting code, you may protest them. How to do that, and what you can protest, is described in the sporting code. You are unlikely to be informed of what actually happens if there is any penalty handed out. The protest may still have had effect, and repeated infringements by one driver may eventually lead to the punishment you had hoped for initially.

Improve your driving

There is of course a lot that can be said about improving your driving. For now, notice how you can enter sessions as a spectator to observe others. You can then also choose to drive as a ghost, meaning then don’t see you. Use that to learn lines, how to place yourself in battles etc.

There is a tool called iSpeed, which, among other things, is like a light version of telemetry analysis. You get some basic parameters that can help you understand what happens. And, more importantly, with a database containing all registered laps, iSpeed lets you compare your laps to faster drivers, to see where (and why!) you lose time. Excellent introduction to iSpeed:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1838954.page

Also, this thread may be an interesting read:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3291304.page
“How to go from 5xx to 24xx iRating and have more fun”

And then our own Peter Jonsson came along with this incredible post “How to get 4.99SR and 1000 points in your first season”:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3302536.page
Youtube/replays

So, you have been in an awesome race, or have an incident you wish to upload to youtube. What to do next? For starters, make sure you save the replay before exiting the session. You may choose to save the entire replay, or just a part of it. For long sessions to be saved completely, you need to have replay spooling enabled. You can find/open your replays from the iRacing website, under Events -> Replays. Note that online and offline sessions are separated in two tabs – don’t panic if you can’t see your replay at first. Also, the replays are stored as .rpy files that can be distributed. You are able to open other drivers’ replays as well, if you can get the file.

Great, so you can now see replays on your own computer. But how about youtube or other means of distributing the replay, also without running them through the simulator? Unfortunately, iRacing doesn’t aid converting the .rpy files to .avi or anything else. Some are surprised by this, but it does make sense: How would the simulator know what car you wish to focus on at a given time, what camera etc? So, the usual approach is to install a third party tool for screen recording. FRAPS has traditionally been popular, but others, like OBS, are gaining momentum. OBS is completely free (FRAPS is not), and comes with the additional advantage that it supports live streaming as well. So, you create various clips by choosing car/camera and record these individually.

OBS:
https://obsproject.com

Next, you need a movie editing software to join together your clips into a movie – unless, of course, you are happy with one unedited clip. For this, there are many free tools available, just go with what you like. Then create/export to a file format for example youtube accepts, and upload.

Now, for longer videos, this can be a lot of work. If you wish to automate a lot of this process, with a decent result, there is a tool called iRacing Replay Director, that actually guesses what highlights you wish to show, what cars to focus on, what would be good cameras etc. It can create a full length race videos, or 10 minute highlight videos. Could be worth a shot if you are not looking for manual perfection?

iRacing Replay Director:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3271807.page

Equipment

While most racers will be happy with wheels/pedals from Logitech or Thrustmaster, some may want to put a bit more money in it and go for Fanatec. But what is the absolutely best wheel, regardless of price? Perhaps AccuForce, with a detailed review here:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3295081.page

And while most may be happy with their desk and their chair, others may want dedicated seats. Then you have for example Playseat and Obutto. Or you could go all-in with a motion platform from SimXperience, or the alternative G-simulator seat GS-4 (point pressure instead of motion – advantage of being almost lag free).

Some may find that their wheel doesn’t come with enough buttons, and they don’t like to use their keyboard while racing. Then perhaps a DSD button box is a good choice?

Driving tips/Articles about racing / simracing / iRacing

[hopefully there will be some more links here]

Have you, for example, ever reflected on how you hold the steering wheel?
http://www.turnfast.com/tech_driving/driving_steering

And did you know there’s a good chance you are turning too much?
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3293821.page

Sim Pit has started a beginner’s driving school, for example with this lesson where they explain understeer and oversteer:
http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/3302274.page

Perhaps it is handy to know the recommended shifting technique for each iRacing car? Note that there are often various possibilities, but these are the recommended techniques, as per Szymon Osiecki: