How to Get Started in Sim Racing (Full Guide)

Written by Bushi

There are a lot of motorsports fans out there, especially now that Formula 1 has blown up in the last few years. Yet, Sim Racing is still relatively unknown (even to motorsports fans).

Sim Racing is awesome as it allows you to scratch that much-needed racing itch after a Grand Prix weekend or a Le Mans 24HR event.

Real-life drivers drive on the sim all the time.

Max Verstappen is known for doing a lot of iRacing and rFactor 2 events, and Lando Norris does a lot of iRacing and F1 23 content.

So, this guide will hopefully be everything important that you need to know to get into Sim Racing.

Lando Norris Sim Racing

From understanding which Sim you should play to building a setup to getting involved with the communities within the main sims out there.

EXTRA: This guide will be quite long. I will talk about the basics of getting into Sim Racing, and then I will break down what you may need to start from scratch. I've also created a Table of Contents to help you navigate the guide more efficiently.

Sim Racing is Addicting, Here's Why...

I've been playing games since I was a child, and with the 20+ years of experience I have played video games, nothing comes close to the level of immersion you feel with Sim Racing.

In my opinion, Sim Racing is the closest video game genre to its real-life counterpart, and that's one of the things that makes it so addicting.

Except for a few glaring differences, you are the one in the car and racing with other people.

How to Get Started With Sim Racing

In the same way that Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen drive in the real world, you can do the same thing from the comfort of your living room.

As a former Sim Racing YouTuber, I can't stress enough how much fun it was to go through an F1 Grand Prix weekend and then hop on a stream and race on the same track with my community as the real-life drivers had done.

IN FACT, I've had the pleasure of racing Zhou Guanyu on F1 22 and 23.

Racing against a real-life Formula 1 driver on a level playing field is an experience I don't think any other gaming genre can give you.

Another reason why Sim Racing is so much fun is the level of immersion you can give yourself. I will not get into this one too much because the video below should be enough to excite most gaming nerds.

Yes, I know, these setups are VERY expensive, but you can get a realistic experience like that much cheaper.

There are many more reasons, but the last one I will mention in this guide is the competition. People will always give you a thrilling race regardless of which sim title you play and what level. Having close battles with others around your skill level is why we play online competitive games in the first place.

Check out this video I made on F1 23. There were only 4 drivers in the race, but the battles we had were worth every second I spent racing, and that's the thrill behind Sim Racing.

Now that I have praised Sim Racing enough let's get into some FAQs about Sim Racing.

Frequently Asked Questions for Sim Racing

After hearing all that, I am sure you now have some questions about Sim Racing, so I have looked around the internet at some frequently asked questions and will answer them here as detailed as possible.

Should You Get a Console or PC for Sim Racing?

This is a valid question, as most people getting into Sim Racing might already have a console for playing other types of games. Sticking to consoles might be the best idea for certain types of sims. For example, Gran Turismo is a PlayStation exclusive, so sticking with a console is necessary in that situation.

Sim Racing PC

However, ultimately, there are more sim titles & sim racing gear options on PC, so I would say that having an optimised PC for Sim Racing is 100% the way to go.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I will be making a guide on how to build PCs at certain budgets for Sim Racing in the near future. I will link that guide here once it's available.

How Much Does Sim Racing Cost?

I will be going into detail in the next section of this guide about setups and what you might need to get started with Sim Racing; however, to keep things simple here, Sim Racing can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn't have to be one.

I would say for your average Sim Racer, to be fully immersed in the community you choose depends on the title you want to play ultimately.

For example, with F1 23, you can start racing with the minimum of a console and a controller (which most of you would already have). However, you might want a cockpit and a wheel. You can start out with a cheaper setup, costing around £400 - £600 on average.

For iRacing, as another example, you'd need to spend more money. iRacing is a PC-only sim, so a new PC is already needed if you don't already have a decent one (costing anywhere from £700 - £1,500+).

rFactor 2

Then, being more of an "authentic" sim title, a wheel setup is necessary.

You also have the added fact that iRacing is a subscription service. This means you would need to pay for access to the game monthly, 3 months, 1 year, etc. On top of that, you will need to pay for each car and track separately (The usual price is about $11 per track & $14 per car)

Though you can go cheaper with your setup, for iRacing, the better your setup, the better your experience will be; I would recommend having a budget of around £800 - £1,200 to get the best experience.

How Real is Sim Racing?

Those who have never tried a sim may wonder, "How realistic can it be?" This makes sense; the games aren't Simulators with other sports (such as Basketball or Football). You can't buy a basketball and run around with it in your room to play NBA 2K.

Sim Racing is much different; you can build a full rig, hop in, and feel most things a real driver would feel.

Here's a quick video from Matthias Fulczyk on what's possible with a rig:

It can get even crazier than that!

To give you a little example of how realistic Sim Racing can be, here's a clip of Max Verstappen overtaking a Williams and Mercedes GT cars down the final straight of the Nürburgring:

Now, if that doesn't remind you of a typical race weekend during the 2023 Formula 1 season, I have no idea what will, haha.

How to Get into Sim Racing (Building Your Setup)

It may seem overwhelming to build your own setup, Especially when you have so many different choices to make. However, the Sim Racing community is very helpful in helping new racers out. Many tutorials on YouTube will visually help you assemble your setup, and Reddit threads can also help.

I'll be helping you narrow down the choices you need to make when it comes to purchasing Sim Racing wheels, cockpits, and other things.

First, I will tell you not to be afraid to buy cheap and upgrade later. Not everyone has a huge or unlimited budget; buy cheap and upgrade later.

For those who can afford to get an average setup together, here are the steps I would take if I had to start again (which I do technically, so this is good for me, too...):

Getting a Chassis

Probably the most important part of a setup since the chassis is the foundation of your rig. It's what holds the monitor, your wheelbase & pedals, and last but not least... you.

What type of chassis you get depends on your preferences and budget. However, I would HIGHLY recommend looking at getting an 80/20 chassis frame. 

These are aluminium profile pieces that you can put together for a stable rig.

Sim Racing Chassis

I used the Next Level Racing F-GT Elite chassis, which was so stable that I could stand on it (I was 104 kg when this picture was taken).

Other frames, such as Playseat's, GTOmega's or Trakracer's, mostly do the same thing. Some companies tend to use tubular chassis frames versus the traditional industrial look that Next Level Racing or GTOmega have, but they serve the same purpose.

Finding The Best Seat

Next is the seat you'll use with it after you've picked which chassis you will get for your rig. This is all down to personal preference, as you must ensure you're as comfortable as possible while you race.

Bucket seats are the most common as they are bigger seats that also tend to hug the frame of your body nicely.

Companies such as Sparco, Next Level Racing, GTOmega and others all offer different types of bucket seats you can get for your rig.

When picking your seat, keep in mind what the purpose of your rig is. If you plan on using your rig to train for real-life driving of some sort, then making sure your seat matches what you'd be sitting in the real car is very important.

Next Level Racing ERS 1

 If you plan on Sim Racing and driving all types of cars, getting a Sim Racing bucket seat that reclines will be your best bet (for me, I used the ERS 1 Bucket Seat from Next Level Racing).

Choosing Your Monitor Setup

Next up are your monitors. It's a pretty important part of a setup as this can determine how much vision you'll have on track and what type of GPU you might need to run.

There are 3 main options for people when it comes to Sim Racing:

  1. 1
    Single Monitor
  2. 2
    Triple Monitor
  3. 3
    VR Headset

Single monitors are self-explanatory; you have a single monitor that displays your game. However, there are two options within the single monitor category. You have a normal 16:9 monitor and an ultrawide 21:9 monitor.

For Sim Racing purposes, ultrawide is definitely the way to go if you're looking for a single screen, as it can emulate a triple monitor setup without the hassle of needing a super powerful PC to run it.

Triple monitors are 3 monitors side by side with your Sim stretched out amongst all three.

This allows for a much more realistic viewing angle as you will actually need to physically turn your head to look to the side like you would in a real car. The main issue with this is that cheaper PCs might struggle to run triple monitors on certain sims.

I've seen a few different options with triple monitors, but the most common is just three 27-inch 1440p (or 4K) monitors. 

Some creative people have taken it even further by adding black panels around the monitor setup to make it look like they're in a car and not their room.

Triple Monitor Setup

VR is, well... VR. It is probably the most immersive experience as you will be in the car, and you can look around without the illusion of being broken.

Some may struggle with VR due to motion sickness, but this is as close as you can get to being in a real racecar for those who don't suffer from that.

In my opinion, I think single ultrawide monitors are the best setup to go for in regards to competitive racing (so Esports level or general league racing).

Triple monitor setups are best for those looking to build a realistic Sim setup, whereas VR is the best for those who want full immersion by being inside the car. Your setup doesn't matter as much because you'll have a headset on and can't see the outside world anyway.

Pedals (They Are MORE Important Than The Wheel)

I've decided to mention pedals before getting a wheelbase and steering wheel. This is because, regarding your inputs within a Sim, your pedals (and, more importantly, your brake pedal) are way more important than a wheelbase.

You can easily get to a higher level on iRacing, for example, with a solid set of loadcell pedals and a cheap Logitech wheel than you could with a Simucube wheel paired with the cheap Logitech pedals.

How to Get Started in Sim Racing

As I said just now, loadcell pedals are (or at least should be) the standard for Sim Racing. Loadcell pedals use a pressure-based system that allows the game to calculate brake force based on how hard you press your brakes rather than how far they travel.

This is more realistic and more beneficial to the driver for various reasons. I recommend checking out the video below by Asetek on why Loadcell brakes are important:

You also have hydraulic brake pedals as an option as well. This is even more realistic because you will be pressing against brake fluid, giving you the same feeling as in a real car.

Not as needed compared to simpler loadcell brakes, but for the immersion aspect, it's a good pickup.

I used Thrustmaster's loadcell pedals, which were good, and I recommend them; however, for most Sim Racers, I would recommend saving up a bit if possible and going with Heusinkveld's Sprint Pedals. These are very solid loadcell pedals that 99.99% of people will never need to upgrade.

Picking The Best Wheelbase for Your Budget

You're good to go as long as a wheel has Force Feedback. However, most want the best experience possible with their wheel. It does make sense; the wheel for Sim Racers is where most of the sensory data is communicated, so having a wheel that can give you the most information is key.

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Luckily, in recent years, direct-drive wheels have become much more accessible (not really for console players, but they still have some options).

Direct Drive wheelbases are the best currently, as the steering rim is connected DIRECTLY to the motor in the base.

This allows for the most detailed experience on the Sim.

I've already made a post covering the best sim racing wheels under $1,000. Give that a look through when you can for recommendations.

Now Remember...

Rome wasn't built in a day, and your setup doesn't have to be either. Take your time getting the right parts that fit your setup. Of course, it's always good to have a foundation, so if needed, buy in some cheaper parts just to get yourself running and then upgrade them piece by piece.

My first setup was a racing wheel connected to my desk, and my pedals pushed against a wall. My final setup was a full aluminium rig with loadcell pedals and a Direct Drive wheelbase.

Now that we have built our setup, it's time to move on to...

The Best Sim Racing Games

There are many sim racing games to play right now, and different reasons for picking them. So, I have gathered 6 of the most popular titles and will briefly describe them (plus a video showing some gameplay); it will then be up to you to decide which title you want to try out first.

1. iRacing (The Standard for Sim Racing)

First off, we have the standard of Sim Racing. iRacing is easily the most popular and, for most, the best Sim Racing title out there. The developers have taken the time to represent each car and track in the game as realistic as possible. 

From MX5s to Formula 1 cars to NASCAR, you can drive anything on four wheels in a competitive setting.

How to Get Started in Sim Racing

It's not perfect, as there still aren't wet conditions in the game; however, in normal conditions, it is one of the most realistic titles there is today.

3-Time F1 champion Max Verstappen frequently does events on iRacing, which says a lot as he's a very hard person to please.

Speaking of events, iRacing hosts a lot of them, including:

  • Le Mans
  • Spa 24 HR
  • Daytona
  • Virtual Nascar Championships

There are many more, but I don't know all the events they host. If you're on PC (because iRacing is PC only), it's a must-have at some point. For most, they will pick up iRacing and never try out another title because there isn't really a need to.

If you're looking to race the best in the world with the most realistic physics, check out my 7-tips guide on how to get started with iRacing.

2. Assetto Corsa (The Most Flexible Sim Out There)

Assetto Corsa has to be the best Sim out there for really doing anything. Now, when I say anything, I mean it.

I know! That doesn't exactly scream Simulator, but AC has some incredible mods for racing. I've driven some GT3 cars, Prototypes and mainly Formula 1 cars on AC, and it's always a blast.

Fancy flying down the countryside in England or Scotland in Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, easily done on Assetto Corsa. Want to drift your Nissan GT Skyline around the streets of Japan? It can easily done on Assetto Corsa.

The possibilities are endless on this Sim; the main issue is that even though Assetto Corsa is available on console, most of the amazing content this Sim offers are PC mods, meaning you will not get that same experience on console.

3. ACC (The Most Realistic GT3/GT4 Experience)

For new racers, it's easy to mistake Assetto Corsa (AC) and Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) as the same game. They are made by the same team, after all.

HOWEVER, they are not the same game. ACC is about as different to AC as F1 23 is to AC.

Whilst Assetto Corsa focuses more on mods and being able to experience any driving that your heart desires, Assetto Corsa Competizione focuses strictly on GT3 & GT4 content.

The developers over at Kunos have done an incredible job building this Sim, and for GT3/GT4 racing, even iRacing doesn't compete with the immersion and realism this title provides.

In fact, Former McLaren F1 Esports driver James Baldwin used ACC to practice for his real-life GT3 season with Jenson Button's McLaren team and WAS NOT ONLY on pace with the other drivers but was actually the QUICKEST on the track most of the time.

Being able to have a better understanding than his competitors of how the car will perform on track simply because he had spent time on ACC is a testament to how realistic its driving physics is compared to other Sim titles.

Not only that but unlike Assetto Corsa and iRacing, ACC is on console (which is a huge dub for console players).

4. rFactor 2 (iRacing's Biggest Competitor)

rFactor 2 is definitely iRacing's biggest competitor at the moment. Another great Sim for new and experienced drivers alike, it (like all the Sims I've mentioned above) supports daytime and night-time racing; however, unlike iRacing, rFactor 2 supports changeable conditions.

Some of the biggest Sim Racing events are held on rFactor 2 as well, such as:

  • Formula E
  • McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer
  • Official Le Mans Virtual GP
  • Spa 12 & 24 HR Events

And they do more, but those are some of the more notable events going on there. RF2 is also NOT a console Sim like iRacing and AC (to an extent).

5. Gran Turismo 7 (Best Simcade Game)

The Gran Turismo series has held a place in hearts for a long time, even more so now with the latest two titles (GT Sport & GT7). Mainly focusing on GT content, GT7 has probably hit the sweet spot between realism and arcade physics better than any other title.

While I did say GT content, I also said mainly because you can use many different types of cars in this game.

For Playstation users, this will most likely be your choice of game because it's a PS Exclusive (so not even PC players can play this game).

If you're on Playstation and you're looking for the perfect balance between jumping on a game and having a blast racing while still needing to drive the car in a realistic way, GT7 is the choice for you.

6. F1 23 (Most Authentic F1 Experience)

Lastly, we have F1 23 from Codemasters. The Official F1 games aren't as realistic as iRacing or ACC. 

However, the beauty of these games is that they give you the most authentic F1 experience.

From all of the official cars and tracks to even some F2 content, Formula 1 fans who want to get on and race as their favourite driver (or against them) can quickly hop on and do so.

How to Get Started in Sim Racing

They even have a "My Team" game mode that lets you create your own team and compete against the other constructors for the championship.

Content Creators like myself and others have taken that opportunity to create mods and have older or even custom teams racing on the grid, which is a lot of fun.

If you're an F1 fan looking for an authentic F1 experience, F1 23 is the way to go.

Make sure to check out my guide for F1 23 on how to get better and win more races.


Well... that was a lot of content. I hope this guide was able to help you understand more about what Sim Racing is about and which title you should sink your teeth into. Sim Racing is an awesome experience; you can play whenever you have free time.

Whether you decide to go with something simpler like F1 23 for that authentic Formula 1 experience or to have the most realistic GT driving possible with ACC, you can do anything you want at any time.

I would HIGHLY recommend only getting into a single Sim Racing title at first, and then you can explore the other titles and what they have to offer once you're more immersed in the community.

If you have any more questions, please comment below or email me (at, and I will try my best to help.

Now get out there and start winning races!

Best Bundle Under £500!

Check out my review on the best value for money bundle in Sim Racing from Moza!

Moza R5 Review

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