iRacing stakes its claim as the premier online sim racing platform through a comprehensive range of different series that you can race in from hourly sprint races to gargantuan endurance races. To progress through to get to the highest of disciplines, you have to upgrade your license through a series of performances.
This article will explain how the license system works, the best ways to optimise your license gain, and what unlocks where in this system.
What are the licenses?
When you load up iRacing, you will be greeted by 4 different licenses.
One is for Road, which advances from the Formula Vee iRacing Series and the Fanatec Global Mazda MX-5 Cup for Rookies all the iRacing Grand Prix Series and the Pure Driving School European Sprint Series for A-License.
Another is from Oval, which advances from the iRacing Advanced Legends Cup and the Fanatec Street Stock Series up to the NASCAR iRacing Class A and NASCAR Next Gen Cup Series.
Next you have Dirt Road, which is a mix of Rallycross and off-road Pro Truck racing series. It advances from the Rookie iRX Volkswagen Beetle Lite series and the Rookie Pro 2 Lite Off-Road Racing Series to the iRacing Rallycross Series and the mixed Pro 2 & Pro 4 Off-Road Racing Series, however these races are B-license rather than A.
Likewise, the Dirt Oval license progresses from Rookies to B-license with the ButtKicker DIRTcar Street Stock Series for Rookies to a blend of Sprint Car, Late Model and UMP Modified series at the highest level.
How do you advance your license?
In each discipline, you are ranked in three conditions. The primary one is Safety Rating (SR), rated between 0 and 3 for Rookies, between 0 and 5 for D-license and then between 1 and 5 for the licenses that follow up to A. Above A-license there’s the Pro licenses, however these are inaccessible to most iRacers. Outside of this you have iRating (iR), which decides seeding and sorting for lobbies but doesn’t mean anything to your license, and ttRating (ttR), which is sorted by your Time Attack results. Again, it doesn’t really affect much apart from your relative ranking to others.
The key to obtaining safety rating is, in essence, to drive safely. However, the amount it increases by each race depends on a set of factors including your own “Incident Count” for the lobby, the length of the race in distance and time, the rest of the lobby’s counters and the relative Safety Ratings for the field. For example, whilst it is common for drivers to gain between 1 and 1.5 SR in an endurance race, it’s often hard to gain more than 0.2 SR in a race that’s shorter than 30 minutes.
Furthermore, you’re less likely to gain SR from a race that’s below your current license. A good instance of this is the Fanatec Global MX5 Series, where a Rookie and someone with an A-license could both have clean races but the Rookie would gain noticeably more SR.
But how does the “Incident Count” work? Each type of “incident” has its own multiplier, and these stack up over the sessions to create the total. Going off the track has a 1x multiplier, hitting a wall or losing control has a 2x multiplier, and car contact has a hefty 4x multiplier.
Sometimes these can stack up, so if you spin off of the track into another car you’ll only get 4x instead of 7x, but also sometimes the punishment can be a lot more lenient. If you lean on another car, for example, it’s typically 0x unless the other car goes off the track or spins, in which case you get the same “points” as they do.
The rules can be slightly different in different sessions, so for example in Practice and Qualifying your incidents carry half the weighting they do in the Race, but also on Dirt the multiplier is also roughly half that it is racing on tarmac.
Put simply, to advance your license your Safety Rating must be at or above 3.00 after having carried out enough “Placement Races.” In the Rookie license this total is 2 races, for every other license it is 4 races or Time Attacks. Once you meet these conditions you will get promoted at the end of the season, with exception to Rookies where you get promoted to D-license immediately.
With the others there is the opportunity to “fast track” and get promoted early, but for that your SR needs to be at or above 4.00.
The progression tree
While the ladders and variety will vary from discipline to discipline, one thing remains consistent pretty much throughout in iRacing: at each level, there’s more than one way to get to the next level. Be that open-wheelers versus tin-tops on Road and Oval, trucks versus rallycross on Dirt Road and sprint cars against stock cars on Dirt Oval, there’s almost always a second option at the very least.
On Road, you have two choices at Rookie: the Formula Vee iRacing Series for your Formula fix and the Fanatec Global Mazda MX-5 Cup if tin-tops take your fancy.
At D you have a wide array of classes in different backgrounds. You have open-wheelers such as the Cooper Tires USF 2000 Championship, the Skip Barber Racing Series, and iRacing Formula Renault 2.0. You also have tin-tops such as the Sim-Lab Production Car Challenge, Fanatec Global Challenge and Turn Racing Touring Car Challenge. Furthermore you have the iRacing Spec Racer Ford Challenge for a unique challenge, GT-racing with the BMW 12.0 Challenge, Ferrari GT3 Challenge, and the Ruf GT3 Challenge, and the taste of some endurance racing with the sporadic events in the BMW Sim GT Cup and Nürburgring Endurance Championship.
C-license has greater variety, with open-wheelers such as the Grand Prix Legends series as well as two F3 series, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, and the official IndyCar iRacing Series for a mixed bag of Road and Oval courses. Elsewhere you have the Supercars of Australia, the Radical Racing Challenge, a return of the MX5 with the Fanatec Advanced Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, a mixed bag of GT racing with the Porsche iRacing Cup, Heusinkveld GT Challenge, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, and Kamel GT Championship. There’s also a taste of endurance racing with the Creventic Endurance Series, VRS GT Endurance Series, and the VRS Global Endurance Series.
At B it’s a lot more specialised. There’s another IndyCar series and the Dallara Formula iR series complemented with the Classic Lotus Grand Prix and the iRacing Formula 3.5 Championship for your open-wheel needs. There’s also a variety of GT and Prototype racing with the Fanatec GT3 Challenge, its twin in the VRS GT Sprint Series, the IMSA Hagerty iRacing Series, the LMP2 Prototype Challenge and the odd GTE Endurance Series race.
At A-license, the créme de la créme, you have the iRacing Grand Prix Series and the Pure Driving School European Sprint Series to reward the best drivers with the most elite road racing on the platform.
In Ovals, you have two Rookie offerings in the Fanatec Street Stock Series and the iRacing Advanced Legends Cup.
From there the D-license offerings are the iRacing ARCA Menards Series, the two SK Modified Weekly Series, as well as two iRacing Late Model Tour offerings.
C-license gives you two Super Late Model Series, two NASCAR iRacing Tour Modified Series, two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, the iRacing Street Stock Series as well as the Indy Pro 2000 Championship and the IndyCar Series for Oval. You also get entries into Special Events, as well as the IndyCar iRacing Series and the NASCAR iRacing Series for the Cup Cars.
At B-license you can have a taste of the two NASCAR xfinity Series as well as the iRacing Sprint Car Cup, the iRacing Silver Crown Cup, and the NASCAR Legends Series for some classic oval racing. T
The top brass A-license series are the two NASCAR Cup Series as well as the two NASCAR Next Gen Cup Series.
On the Dirt Road progression, you can get a taste of trucks and rallycross at each level. At Rookie, you have the Pro 2 Lite Off-Road Racing Series and the iRX Volkswagen Beetle Lite – Fixed Series.
At D-license the two offerings are the open-setup iRX Volkswagen Beetle Lite series as well as the Pro 4 Off-Road Racing Series – Fixed.
At C-license the two offerings are the fixed-setup races of the iRacing Rallycross Series and the Pro 2 Off-Road Racing Series.
The top of the ladder is B-license here, with the open-setup iRacing Rallycross Series and combined Pro 2 & Pro 4 Off-Road Racing Series.
Dirt Oval has the most complex ladder. Despite it appearing that there are two Rookie series, only the ButtKicker DIRTcar Street Stock Series is available to Rookies. The iRacing Dirt Legends Cup, despite appearing as available, will only become available at D-license.
In addition to that, D-license holders get access to the Fanatec DIRTcar 305 Sprint Car Series, the DIRTcar Limited Late Model Series, and the Engine Ice DIRTcar 358 Modified Series.
At C-class you have no less than 7 unique series: the DIRTcar Class C Street Stock Series, the fixed-setup World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the RYCO-Motorsports.com DIRTcar Pro Late Model Series, and the SUPER DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series are met with the Sprint Car-style racing of the UCAS 360 Sprint Car Series, the DIRTcar 360 Sprint Car Series, and the iRacing Dirt Midget Cup.
As with Dirt Road, the top progression on Dirt Oval is B-license. Here you have the two World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series as well as the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the AMSOIL USAC Sprint Car Series and the DIRTcar UMP Modified Series.
As we said at the start of this article, iRacing has a comprehensive range of series that are spread out over 4 ladders. These can be climbed in a variety of different ways and, with each step, the competition gets rougher and tougher.
If you’re looking at making the next steps and wondering which cars and tracks are the best for you, be sure to check out our Ultimate iRacing Car Guide and Ultimate iRacing Track Guide for more information. And, if setups are the thing that you’re hunting for with MoTeC data to take you and your driving to the next level, be sure to check out our Coach Dave Academy iRacing setups as well as our guide on how to read MoTeC data.