One of the most common questions asked is “How do I get started in online racing?” It can be a bit overwhelming with all of the systems, game types, internet type, controls, rigs, visuals, accessories and of course, budget. We are here to help.
Basic direction. There are many high-quality games with consoles (PlayStation and Xbox), but if you want the ultimate experience, PC is the way to race. Consoles have fantastic titles such as The Crew2, Mud Runner, Forza, Gran Turismo, and DIRT. These games have story lines and give a more arcade feel with competitive play. If you want total immersion and simulation, then only the PC can offer that with amazing titles such as iRacing, rFactor, Project CARS and Assetto Corsa. Your PC still has the option to utilize the “arcade” type games, but the PlayStation nor the Xbox offer iRacing nor Assetto Corsa. Using consoles is by far the least expensive and easiest way to go, but for total immersion, the PC with iRacing is most popular and that is what we will focus on.
You will need to purchase a computer or see if your current computer can handle the load demand created by iRacing. They have minimal requirements needed to operate their simulation, and you can change the graphics settings in game to fit the needs of your system. Not sure if your computer can handle it? No worries, click this LINK HERE and you will be taken to iRacing’s site and it will perform a self-check. Once completed, it will approve your computer or it will list what needs upgraded to your computer to meet demands. Some upgrades can be done yourself with basic mechanical knowledge, but we recommend speaking with a computer store.
iRacing is a subscription based online racing simulation that groups 4 different styles of racing into one bundle. They offer road racing, asphalt circle track, dirt circle track and trophy trucks. You must purchase and have an active subscription in order to practice or compete. When you start, you are given a set number of free cars and tracks. If you want more track and car options, they are available for purchase. Each class is divided equally with multiple license levels and racing types/lengths. Everyone starts at the rookie level and you are awarded (or penalized!) points to upgrade to the next license class (you will have to purchase cars/tracks to conform to the next level of competition). Each license class groups the proper skill level competitors together for every event. If you are ready to subscribe and you would like to support our channel, click HERE for iRacing’s refer a friend program. We receive $10 in iRacing credits for every 3 months or longer sign up. Thanks in advance!
THE BEST IS THE BEST! Kidding aside, the better service, the better experience. With iRacing being an online service, you can be competing with anyone from anywhere in the world for any event. We highly recommend direct connection to your computer with the ethernet cable, not WiFi.
Let the immersion begin! Steering wheels, pedals, shifters and handbrakes; controllers ouch…. Controllers work, and I say that lightly (this is how I started). They get the job done, but can be highly inconsistent and not ergonomically friendly. There are trusted brands for steering wheels and pedals: Simagic, Logitech, Thrustmaster, Moza, Fanatec and a few others. These are the most common and easily found. Most wheels offer force feedback! You will feel the strain on the car steering system and feel every bump in the road! Many companies also offer external shifters and hand brakes (these are not required because most steering wheels have paddle shifters installed and hand brakes are not necessary).
Rigs (your racecar)
Rigs are the skeleton framework and mounting surfaces for your steering wheel, pedals, shifter and some offer mounting for your seat or even your monitor. Rigs are not necessary, but help with being competitive and consistent, and they look cool! Just like a real car, the best ones cost the most! Some top racers just use a steering wheel clamped to a coffee table with a camping chair while others use real racecar chassis with 4 corner cylinder actuation to simulate pitch, yaw and roll!
Dig deep??? Just like a real race car, how fast do you want to go? TV’s, laptops, monitors, VR. These are all options and each type offer different budgets and immersions. TV’s work, however they are not designed to handle the frame rates and hertz that gaming computers thrive on. Gaming laptops work also, but you are limited to screen size and mounting and viewing issues in combination with your steering wheel. Computer monitors are most common and work best. You have many options going this direction. High frame rates and pixel counts are best. There are different screen types and mounting options, usually dictated by your budget and space requirements. Single screen, wide screen and our favorite, triple screens being wrapped around the cockpit. Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are supported by iRacing and many other top titles. It is an unreal experience and takes up no space, if you are restricted to room size. VR is not for everyone, with many reporting queasiness or strain on eyes, us included. Sometimes you just have to approach it slowly and use in moderation until you adapt.
Accessories, Options and Upgrades
This is where you can have FUN and really customize your “racing team.” These are not needed but add a WOW factor for show and immersion for go! Items such as button boxes, surround sound, buttkickers, microphones (for in-game communication), LED lights, real racing steering wheels, racing gloves, racing shoes, wind simulators, racing seats and there are many more options.
So, the bottom line is how much do I want to spend? Just like any hobby or real racing, addiction is 99.9% possible. You can purchase many used complete operations online from someone upgrading or just getting out of it. For entry level used items, expect to spend $100-200 for wheels and pedals, $200-$400 for a rig, $500-$800 for a gaming computer and $100 for a monitor. So, all in all, around $1K will get you started if you have nothing. The sky is the limit from there on out. Average complete operations are around $2K-$4K, top tier $10K and many pro and real racing team simulators are $50K and up!
Hopefully, this gives you an insight on the next possible chapter in your racing venture! I hope this helps and feel free to drop us a line with any additional questions:
Thanks, and race on!