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The cheapest way to get started on iRacing

iRacing is a racing simulator service that is subscription-based. This means you pay to access the service and buy content like cars and tracks separately. This can of course become expensive very quickly especially if you want to buy all the cars and all the tracks that are on the iRacing service.

If you’re new to iRacing and would like to spend your money a bit more wisely, then we recommend that you follow a different path.

What does iRacing cost?

iRacing costs $13 a month to access the service and to drive the base cars and tracks. This base content consists of a blend of road and oval tracks like Laguna Seca and Oulton Park for the road tracks to the popular Daytona and Charlotte ovals. 

Cars range from the Formula Vee entry open-wheeler and various tin tops to the super-fast DW12 IndyCar. We think that the base cars and tracks are a good platform to start your iRacing career and most new drivers will find something that they will enjoy. At the time of writing this article, iRacing is offering discounts on their subscriptions with one month costing only $7.80. 

iRacing also has discounts on longer-term subscriptions:

Regular PriceDiscounted Price
1 Month$13$7.80
3 Months$33$19.80
1 Year$110$66
2 Years$199$119.40

Another way to save money is to wait for offers for first-time subscribers. For example, iRacing had a Black Friday special last year where first-time subscribers were offered 50% off the regular rate. A 25% discount was also available if you wanted to re-subscribe or renew your iRacing subscription. You can also scour the web for discount codes like a recent one that gave first-time subscribers 3 months of iRacing for free. 

To put it simply, if you want to get your hands on iRacing, do your due diligence first – it’s all about timing. It can seem pricey at first, and it definitely is, but invariably there are offers to help you out along the way.

Why shouldn’t you buy everything?

If you know that you only plan to race open-wheelers like Formula 3 and Formula 1, then it makes sense to save money and not buy oval tracks that are normally only raced by Indycar and Nascar. Tracks can cost as much as $14.95 with cars costing $11.95. This can add up very quickly if you don’t plan what you want to race.

We suggest that you look at a racing path that you would like to follow like touring cars and endurance racing and start buying cars and tracks that will be used for those categories. This means that you only buy the exact content that you need as you progress through the licence classes in iRacing. If you want to learn more about how the license system work, make sure to check out our guide to all things iRacing licences

You can also micro-manage this by skipping four out of the twelve races in a championship and still have your results count towards the championship. This tactic allows you to skip tracks that you don’t own without compromising championship results – a helpful caveat in the iRacing system. 

When choosing what to buy on iRacing, you need to be smart with your purchases. Waiting until you’ve got a higher license before buying anything could be a good tactic to employ too – holding off, considering your options are feeling your way around the sim before a big financial commitment will help you out. Furthermore, making a detailed plan as to what you will race is a great idea, allowing you to be precise with your car purchases, and allowing you to buy tracks that are common in the series you have bought cars for.

Drive only a few cars

If you plan, for example, to run open-wheelers mainly in iRacing, then we suggest that you stick to open-wheelers and focus on mastering them. Don’t buy the Dallara F3 and give up after a few races and switch to a Nascar. They’re completely different disciplines of racing and switching between cars very often prevents you from progressing along a career path that will take you from a rookie Formula Vee driver all the way to an iRacing Grand Prix Series F1 Champion. This will of course save you lots of money overall and make you a much better driver.

iRacing makes incredibly precise and realistic machinery, but don’t let that fool you. Sticking with a discipline and mastering it is a better route to take financially, but also as a driver. You will be surprised as to how different driving a high-downforce car is from driving a Porsche Cup car in the iRacing Porsche Cup Series, which you can learn more about here, for example. 

There are plenty of other sims on the market, such as Assetto Corsa, that allow you to drive pretty much any car under the sun, but when it comes to iRacing, honing in on a few specific series is a better route to take.

There are a huge amount of cars available to you on iRacing, so why don’t you check out our recommendations of the best cars in iRacing to help you decide exactly what you want to drive?

Our iRacing money-saving checklist

  • Look for discounts especially if you’re a first-time subscriber
  • Choose your career path and only buy what you need
  • Use the annual Black Friday Special for huge discounts
  • Buy content in packs of 3 to get 10% off
  • Skip races on tracks you don’t own

Final thoughts

iRacing is definitely one of the best ways you can get close to a racing career without racing real cars. The safety rating system and licence classes mirror real racing and can become very immersive. However, just like real racing, iRacing can become very costly if you don’t plan your career path and relevant purchases

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