NASCAR recently announced that starting in 2023, they will be racing through the streets of Chicago for the next several 4th of July weekends. This will be the first time modern NASCAR will run a street course instead of a traditional oval or road course. More interestingly, the course was originally designed by the iRacing track team and will follow this design exactly. Because of this cross-promotional campaign, a lot of new drivers will want to start their simulation racing careers. I’m here to give you some tips and tricks to level up your license and save some serious money.
Setting Up Your Account(s)
There are no two ways about it, iRacing is an expensive hobby. With a $13/month subscription fee, you would hope you wouldn’t have to spend any more on cars and tracks, but that’s not the case. On the plus side, you will be able to do all of your rookie races without buying anything extra, but that will only last a few weeks to a month, depending on how much time and effort you dedicate to the game. We’ll get into some tips on leveling up your license shortly, but first the money-saving tips.
The biggest way to save in your early racing days is to buy a full 2-year subscription with your “new account” discount. If that sounds daunting and you’re not ready to commit to a full two years just yet, worry not. There’s no rule against having multiple accounts, so create a new account with a shorter subscription length and a variation of your name. Later, after you’ve had a chance to get used to how iRacing works, you can create a new account with your actual name and get that sweet 40% off a 2-year subscription.
Planning Your Career and Buying Tracks
Now that you have your permanent account set up, you’ll want to plan your career path. iRacing operates on a 12-week seasonal format, with each season holding different car and track combinations to race on each week. As previously mentioned, your rookie races are all free with your basic subscription, but once you level a license up to D class or higher, you’ll have to purchase cars and/or tracks to continue progressing. This is where your chosen career path comes into play.
As an example, let’s say your ultimate goal is to race in the top NASCAR series like the legendary drivers; Jimmy Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Ricky Rudd before you. There’s no way to jump straight from rookie to the NASCAR championship, so you’ll want to focus on the D class series most similar to the types of races you’re ultimately aiming for.
Most D class series have a mix of free tracks and paid DLC, and most will require you to purchase a car as well. While most tracks cost $12-$15 each and cars cost around $12 each, we have another opportunity to save a bit of money here. iRacing offers bulk discounts when purchasing three or more qualifying tracks and/or cars, or a slightly higher discount when purchasing six or more qualifying items.
Let’s look at an actual scenario and say that you were getting into your D class races at the beginning of the current season. If you were aiming for the NASCAR career path, you would want to start your D class races in the NASCAR iRacing Late Model Series. In 2022 Season 3, this series runs at 5 rookie tracks that are included in your base subscription, and 7 that are paid DLC.
You would also need to purchase the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Five of these tracks cost $11.95, and 2 cost $14.95. With the $11.95 car, that would bring the total cost of this 12 weeks series to $101.60. However, since you’re purchasing 8 items, that gives you a 15% discount, which brings us down to $86.36, a little over a $15 savings.
Alternatively, you could split it up into two separate purchases. Buying the car and the first three paid tracks would cost $47.80 with a 10% discount and get you through the first five weeks of the series, and the last four paid tracks would cost $48.42, also with a 10% discount, bringing your series total to $86.60, only a few cents more than buying them altogether.
After a few seasons, you’ll have purchased enough for the loyalty discount of 20% off all future purchases! As an added bonus, you will get a $4 credit at the end of each series you fully participate in, so that will help with the cost of your next season’s purchases.
Getting License Promotions
So that covers the first 3 months of your iRacing career financially, but how do you get out of the rookie class in the first place? Well, that’s the fun part: just race! Your license rank is based on your safety rating, which you improve by running cleanly in official, ranked races. This can be difficult at first when you’re trying to figure out how to control your car, learn the track layouts, and, most importantly, avoid the other rookie drivers.
Going off track is a much less severe penalty than making contact with another driver. It doesn’t matter if you hit them or they hit you, you’ll both get the same penalty, so if you can’t stay on the track without making contact, it’s usually better to take the off-track penalty to avoid them. Ultimately, if you avoid contact with other drivers, don’t hit walls, and stay off the grass, you’ll see your safety rating jump up quickly.