At Treq we meet a lot of young racers who are just stepping into the world of sim racing. Many of them play the F1 games on console, or the Assetto Corsa titles, and are a little bit scared of iRacing because they heard it’s ‘too expensive’. They know it’s a good sim. They love it when they try it out. But they are hesitant to install it themselves. But is iRacing expensive?
GETTING STARTED WITH iRACING
In short: yes. Compared to other games iRacing is very expensive. If you want all the cars, all the tracks and compete online, you’ll pay north of $1000 dollar and still have to pay for a monthly subscription. That sounds scary, right? Luckily there are a few big BUT’s.
When you start with iRacing, you’ll start in the so-called Rookie classes. For the road racing series this is in a Mazda MX-5 cup car. It’s a free car and all the tracks this series races on, are free as well. The only thing you need to buy is a subscription to compete online. This can be bought on a monthly basis, or for longer periods of time. One month costs $9,99 but if you grab a nice deal you can get 24 months for $120 ($5 a month). This is the only thing that is essential to play iRacing. The rookie class is ideal to get a good taste of the simulator. You can compete in as many races you like and follow the complete season on included race tracks. Like what you see? Then you can carefully invest more into the sim.
ROAD, DIRT AND OVALS
We said that if you want all the content, it’s going to cost more than $1000. While this is true, it’s good to know iRacing is divided into 4 categories: Road Racing, Oval Racing, Dirt Tracks and Dirt Ovals. Most European racers focus on Road Racing and will never spend money on NASCAR tracks and cars, while people who love NASCAR and IndyCar probably spend a lot less on Dirt Tracks, for example. Few people have all the content iRacing offers, because this is far from essential.
HOW MUCH FOR THE CARS AND TRACKS?
iRacing has some free content, but most of it has to be bought separately from the subscription fees. A new car comes in at $11,95 and a track costs $14,95. If you buy more at once, or if you own more than 40 items already, you get some variable discounts.
iRacing has a unique setup of how races are scheduled and played. Unlike many others sims where users have to create their own servers, iRacing has dedicated championships and seasons. Perform well, and you’ll gain rating which places you on the grid with better drivers.
Your iRating, visible for everyone, has an important value for many racers and most hate to see it drop. This means people won’t just jump into any car/track combination without practice. Practically everybody joins the grid knowing where to brake for the first corner. And the better you get, the tougher your competition gets. It pays off to only race 1 or 2 cars for a complete season (12 weeks). This way you’ll get to know all the secrets your car has, get quicker and more consistent, and finisher higher up. So unlike other sims where you might race an old F1 car followed by a GT car and then a Formula Ford on the same evening, in iRacing it’s completely normal to race the same car for weeks on end. This is good for your wallet, since there’s no need to buy every car from the start.
Most of your opponents have also invested quite a bit into iRacing. Not only on cars and tracks, but in steering wheels, racing rigs and overall setup. People take this seriously, which elevates the competitiveness to a higher level. And if you’re really good, you might even end up racing against Max Verstappen or other real life racing drivers, who use iRacing for practice.
IT GETS CHEAPER ALONG THE WAY
When starting with iRacing and wanting to compete in online championships, you might see yourself buy 1 or 2 cars, and 3 tracks at once, because you don’t have all the content for your desired series yet. If your unlucky, your favourite series has more than 5 ‘unowned’ tracks. You can choose to skip these races, but if you know you’ll go for the long game, you might purchase a lot of content in the beginning. As the seasons go on, you’ll find yourself owning more and more tracks, and every new season you have to buy less content. You might start off with $200 dollars of costs in the first 2 or 3 seasons (combined), and then water it down to $15 or even $0 per season.
In iRacing you can get credits by competing online (participation awards), and by getting your friends to join the sim while using your invitational code. You can earn $4 or $8 dollar per season for competing, and get $10 for inviting someone. Not quite a free car or track yet, but every bit helps!
NO iRACING 1, 2 OR 3
Unlike many other games, iRacing keeps updating itself. There are big releases every quarter of the year, and the sim keeps getting better and better. Not only new content, but also graphics, audio and physics are being updated. They started off in 2008 and are still going strong. Every content ever purchased will be usable in the future, and you don’t have to worry you’ll have to pay 60 or 80 bucks every year for a new title, like F1, FIFA or Call of Duty for example. Of course, you still have that subscription, but you don’t have to worry for future releases.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Yes. If you’re looking for great physics and online competitiveness, that is. iRacing is pretty expensive compared to other games, but when you put it in perspective: steering wheels, pedals, graphics cards and monitors: they usually cost a lot more. And it is much, much cheaper than burning fuel and tyres in real life. And while Assetto Corsa, rFactor and RaceRoom all have great physics, and maybe better graphics for a fraction of the price, you get unparalleled competitive racing in return when booting up iRacing.