Let’s talk about iRacing

My iRacing subscription is running out at the end of the month and I don’t plan on re-subscribing. There are a bunch of other simulators I want to experience and review here on YSAR. That series of posts is about to start, but before I journey into new territory, let me take a moment to reflect on my most recent iRacing experience.

Delta Challenge and the MX-5

I love trying new tracks, and the delta challenge gave me some motivation to try tracks I didn’t think I would be interested in. I don’t imagine many YSAR readers actually took up the challenge, but if you did, I hope you also found some pleasure in it. I know I did.

This also gave me a chance to drive the Global MX-5 Cup car. Back when I was an iRacing Rookie, we were in the NC car. The ND is a fantastic car even with the baseline setup. I hear a lot of complaints about it though. Here’s my advice.

  • Understeer – If this is your complaint, you’re probably trying to steer while mashing the throttle on a too-slow entry. Enter faster, hold some brake while turning, and you will find it oversteers plenty.
  • Oversteer – If this is your complaint, it’s probably because you are mashing the throttle while holding the wheel in one place. Open the steering wheel just before adding throttle and keep opening it gradually while you add throttle. If you run out of track, your idea about the corner geometry was off.
  • Twitchy – Cars slip around at the limit in real life too. It’s easier to go beyond the limit in a simulator where you don’t have Gs you can feel and where your survival instincts aren’t telling you to slow down. Learn to drive the limit in iRacing and it will give you the confidence to drive faster in real life.

How has iRacing changed for the better?

There’s a lot more free content than there used to be. When new models of cars/tracks supersede others, they make the older ones free. So even if you don’t buy any cars or tracks, there’s plenty to keep you busy for months. While I didn’t get to try much of the new dirt tracks, I thought Daytona and Phoenix were really fun. Balancing dirty traction in the MX-5 is sort of like driving on a really wet track in the real world. The dirt model in iRacing is pretty darn good.

How has iRacing changed for the worse?

Nothing is really worse, but like a shark, if you don’t keep moving forward, you die. Not that iRacing has any chance of dying anytime soon. The competitors are so bad at match-making and custom games, that iRacing continues to have a bright future. So even though some parts of the service are worse than its competitors, iRacing is still winning the esports racing scene. So what parts of iRacing aren’t moving forward?

Website

The home page looks like it was built in the early 2000s. Aside from the look, there are many silly errors and inconsistencies. It’s like they don’t have any QC/QA personnel. Or they don’t care. Or they don’t have time. Whatever the cause, the UI makes for a pretty amateurish user experience.

Tires

The tire model is still a problem. They have the most grip within the first 5-10 minutes, after which, the grip gets worse. As soon as you heat a tire over X, it will never have optimal grip again. In the real world, not all the tires have the same properties, yet it appears they do in iRacing. It’s also harder to control a drift in iRacing than in other simulators or in the real world. Is this a problem with their force feedback or tire model? I don’t know, but I’m lumping them together and saying that whatever model they have for grip and grip feedback is bugged. It’s not completely useless, but some other simulators are both more fun, and more realistic in my experience.

Content

Where are all the low performance cars? Also, where are the front wheel drive cars? I don’t own many iRacing cars because I don’t like the selection. I do own a lot of tracks though, and that selection is very good because everything is laser scanned. I wish they had more of the tracks I visit in real life, but I would say that about every simulator. It doesn’t really bother me that cars and tracks cost money. All of this shit is so much cheaper than real world racing.

When Will I Return?

I’ll renew my subscription again…

  • If I’m going to a track in the real world and only iRacing has it
  • If my real life racing buddies want to do endurance racing online
  • If I want to do a simulator shootout
  • If a long time passes and I want to check in on it again

Until then, I’m off to drive other sims. Check back soon for some of those stories.

7 thoughts on “Let’s talk about iRacing

  1. Hi Ian,

    Have you tried the Skip Barber in iRacing recently?

    Personally, I’m finding that a lot of fun, and quite easy to drift even if the fast way around is to minimize sliding from the apex on out… One thing about iRacing is that each car is on its own tire model, and the Skippy seems to have one of the most evolved tire models in the service. Being a street (treaded) tire probably helps as well. It has less of an edge and suffers less from the surface overheating that can make some of the other tires difficult to drive.

    You do need to allow a couple of laps to get some heat into the tires, which is possibly more than real life, but after that they seem to behave very well.

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    1. I tried it not long ago and it was only okay. I’ll give it another go and report back. Have you tried the Skip Barber in rFactor 2? Depending on the wheel you may want to up the FFB multiplier, but that is the best sim model I’ve driven.

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    2. Oh crap, I don’t have the Skippy on the account I created. I’d have to reactivate my old account. I guess I’ll have to revisit this at a later date.

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  2. Jason and I agree. I like the iRacing Skippy most. Both understeer and overseer are predictable. 4 wheel drifts are a frequent joy. Being open wheel, people hitting you on purpose is rare.

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  3. Did a bunch of laps on AC both with and without AI cars in preparation for an IRLife track event (only sim with that track). So much less exciting than my iRacing events against real drivers. I realize each of us have different triggers of enjoyment, and I acknowledge that AC can accommodate real driver competition, but the hourly schedule (for Skippy on iRacing) can’t be beat for me. I look forward to having the bandwidth to support multiple series if I can ever “master” the Skippy and learn all these tracks!

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    1. Agreed. If you want the thrill of racing, you need real opponents. iRacing is good for that. But there are leagues for AC, rF2 and others that offer similar levels of competition. iRacing makes it all so much easier.

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