An Open Secret: Sim Racers Suck at Sim Racing

It’s a sentiment shared in memes, but never seriously discussed. Sim racers are often happy to mock gigantic opening lap wrecks and pathetic displays of driving ineptitude, but unable to to look inward at the root cause of this embarrassing phenomenon. Make no mistake, sim racing as a hobby can, under ideal circumstances, provide thrills unlike Battlefield or Destiny; a hard-fought race is something you’re left reminiscing about for the rest of the evening compared to the fleeting feeling of a good Kill/Death ratio in Call of Duty, but this scenario is quickly becoming a rarity.

The average sim racer is atrocious at sim racing, and this is a sentiment I’ve expressed in past articles on PRC, but only explored on an anecdotal level. Whereas you can usually boot up a game of Madden and be matched up against someone who at least understands the game of football, the “quality of play” in sim racing is practically non-existent. Despite appearing in video games for over two decades, turn one at Monza is still a mess. NASCAR fans flock to virtual versions of Daytona or Talladega in online lobbies, but often wipe out the field before the cars have completed a full lap – only to do it all over again thanks to hyper sensitive caution flags until only one driver remains. Practice sessions are not dick-waving contests over lap times as they should be, but wastelands of broken cars parked along the side of the racing surface; participants careening about as if their parents took them go-karting for their tenth birthday, and they’ve invited their mates along for the ride.

This makes the process of actually becoming proficient at racing simulators, extremely unrewarding. It’s like the hobby has been pumped full of the same Christmas noobs you’d see in Call of Duty every holiday season; players who awkwardly stumble around maps they’re unfamiliar with, reduced to cannon fodder for the early adopters who have owned the game since launch. This is sim racing in a nutshell; confused hobbyists struggling to learn car after car, and track after track, with not much in the way of success as the one or two freaks utterly decimate them. Cannon fodder is great in Call of Duty because it allows you to rank up quicker and unlock the weapons you’ve been eyeing, but in sim racing this instead actively undermines the point of the genre.

People get into sim racing for the sheer rush of racing, or at least as much of a rush that piloting a fake car from the comfort of your man cave can provide. And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this scenario isn’t impossible; if you love auto racing, a good race is a good race – it doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite driver on television winning by a bumper, or running inches apart from your buddy on the other side of the world. Blowing out the field by thirty four seconds because half of them are upside down, however, isn’t a rush.

It’s quite boring, and most importantly, doesn’t make the people who otherwise love what sim racing represents, want to keep playing. This is an especially large predicament when two of the biggest games in the genre have been designed specifically for playing with others. Private leagues are said to clean up the driving standards to an extent, as are elaborate matchmaking systems that sort drivers by their on-track etiquette – in theory a fantastic design decision.

But what if I told you that all the innovations in the world can’t fix sheer stupidity on behalf of the community, and I’ve got the data to back it up?

The reality of the situation is that sim racing will never succeed as an eSport or a genre, because the on-track product critical to one’s enjoyment of any given title is too reliant on a community whose collective talent level is so preposterously bad.

Originally developed as a ranking system for competitive Chess matches, Elo calculations first found themselves integrated into the world of sim racing with the release of iRacing all the way back in 2008. Though games on Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform frequently made use of the calculations for matchmaking, iRacing’s entire operation revolved around the Elo concept – which was pretty ingenious on paper. Rooms would be seeded by Elo rank in descending order, creating a situation where the best always raced against the best, mid-pack drivers dueled for promotion, and backmarkers would have a friendly environment to improve their skills without getting annihilated by try-hard sim racers.

The concept of Elo is fairly simple; while iRacing doesn’t publicly display your rank until “graduating” into a new license category, every driver begins with a base Elo rank of 1350. Placing in the top half of the field increases this number, while placing in the bottom half obviously decreases the value. Winning a race outright pays out the most Elo points – somewhere between 70 and 110 – yet as you progress through iRacing’s ecosystem, merely placing well against drivers of a much higher Elo rank is more than enough to travel up the leaderboards. This is partially what allows talented sim racers to register for iRacing sight unseen and instantly find themselves to be a recognizable face within the community; a couple of wins or stout finishes in short succession, and your Elo rank will seed you in races among the best because you’ve obviously demonstrated you can compete on a high level from the get-go.

However, the implementation of Elo in the hobby’s most prolific community has also created an unintended way to gauge the validity of one’s musings. Those who display their Elo rank prominently in their personal forum signature openly broadcasts to the world what kind of driver they are. It is quite comical to see sim racers with drastically low Elo ranks discussing physics or racing techniques, only for a portion of their own post to automatically invalidate anything they’ve contributed to the discussion. iRacing’s greatest achievement is not creating a massive online platform for racing, but rather implementing an automated bullshit detector in a hobby notorious for misinformation. You can learn to avoid someone’s car setup advice, hardware reviews, or opinions on other games just by looking at an innocent number.

Which obviously means there’s a database of these numbers. And in turn, we can analyze said database to further learn about the sim racing community as a whole.

Buckle up. Y’all won’t like this.

There are 42,436 members on the service who have made at least one start on the American oval racing side of the simulator – an act alone that indicates they’re taking the hobby at least somewhat seriously. Of that sample size, which despite focusing solely on ovals is still large enough for us to use, only 18,232 were able to improve upon their Elo rank from the default starting value. This means that a whopping 57%, or close to three out of every five hardcore sim racers, are certified backmarkers unable to outweigh seriously poor performances with borderline acceptable results over multiple races in a structured setting.

These are not stoned teenagers renting NBA 2K from Blockbuster and getting blown out by the AI for trying to shoot threes with Shaq. That’s not the iRacing crowd at all. These are people who are spending hundreds of dollars on computer upgrades and toy steering wheels, yet are unable to finish at least sixth in a twelve car field, or fifteenth in a thirty car field, once or twice out of every four races to maintain a net positive Elo rank.

This kind of abysmal performance from a lone individual is possible by signing up for multiple races in a row, and then just walking away from the computer without even launching the iRacing application. It is highly unlikely that roughly 25,000 hardcore sim racers – nearly 60% of all drivers who have ever made an oval start on iRacing, even if it was just out of curiosity – undertook those same procedures. We are talking about a majority of the service being so statistically incompetent behind the wheel, they have fallen below the default Elo rank provided to them when they register. This is an incomprehensible lack of talent; three out of five sim racers are unable to drive in a circle and finish mid-pack against drivers of a similar skill level.

These people of course then go out and purchase other racing simulators, and then shit up online races in those games as well.

A victory, as mentioned above, can net you anywhere from 70 to 110 Elo points, with placing in the top half offering less and less points as you move closer to the center of the pack. Over the years, certain Elo milestones have become status symbols among the iRacing community; during my time on the service, the number a lot of guys had been shooting for was 5,000, though this has since changed due to an influx of new users making for easy cannon fodder, and the same old personalities remaining on the service to grind for points – therefore dishing out even bigger rewards for those who manage to beat them.

The first semi-superficial milestone to achieve would be the 2,000 Elo rank mark, which for any competent driver can be achieved in just an evening of play on iRacing if we’re going off the numbers listed above. Getting home from work at five in the afternoon, signing up for iRacing, and placing well in one event per hour until bedtime, or just winning a few races back to back, will put you over the 2,000 milestone with relative ease. Those pressed for time may take longer, but the core concept is simple; amassing 2,000 Elo points is something that can be done in a handful of starts. Most of these races, at least on the oval side, last for a paltry eight minutes. It’s not a lot of work.

Of course, that’s the best case scenario, in which you’re coming from other simulators you’ve traditionally done quite well in and generally understand how a simulator is supposed to be driven. As I’ve already noted, you don’t have to be a legend to obtain Elo points; merely finishing in the top half of the field warrants a positive Elo gain, even if that gain may not be as substantial as outright winning races.

Therefore, you can easily attain the 2,000 Elo milestone from the default 1,350 in just three nights of light play by basically turning a qualifying lap without spinning the car, and then maintaining your position. Considering we have already established 57% of the people you’re racing against are incompetent backmarkers who are woefully off-pace, failing to achieve the 2K mark is pretty much impossible unless you are purposely crashing into walls.

Only 16% of hardcore sim racers have completed this goal. By playing iRacing for three nights and making zero effort to do anything aside from turn laps in fourth place, you are already a better driver than 85% of the hardcore simulator community.

But it’s when we get to the score of 3,000 Elo that things start to take a turn for the worse. Attaining this score on paper is the numerical equivalent to winning seventeen races; a bit much to ask for a complete newcomer, but given those on a quest for 3,000 have most likely progressed into more prolific classes and are undoubtedly racing against higher skilled rivals, their net Elo gain from just riding around in fifth and not causing any problems in the company of superior drivers will be almost as much as a race win against inferior opponents.

Given iRacing’s tendencies to chop the length of fixed setup oval races in half from what they were the previous season, an Elo rating of 3,000 shouldn’t take more than a week of light play after work to achieve. We’re talking two or three races per night, a commitment of maybe thirty minutes total, starting on Monday and ending on Friday.

Only 5% of hardcore sim racers have gotten past the 3,000 Elo marker. Understanding how iRacing works, and knowing how easy it is to amass Elo when first starting out on iRacing, we are looking at a situation in which 95% of hardcore sim racers are unable to establish themselves as competent, mid-pack drivers who can bring the car home in one piece.


So to recap, here are the three main data points I’ve brought up over the course of this article.

57% of hardcore sim racers are unable to offset numerous poor finishes with acceptable results. What constitutes as a poor result in this very specific data point? It’s pretty simple: placing in the bottom half of the running order, something that usually happens due to crashing out prematurely. In other words, over half of the sim racing community, based upon a sample size of 42,000, is incapable of finishing a race. These are people who supposedly eat, sleep, and breathe auto racing.

85% of hardcore sim racers are unable to maintain a brief upward climb of acceptable results. There is a shocking lack of consistency and progression among the average sim racer, to the point where simply maintaining a string of satisfactory finishes over a period of two or three days is out of reach for the majority of sim racers. In a traditional joypad-based game, let’s take Super Smash Bros. for example, a new player will start out potentially not performing well against the AI, but as their understanding of the game improves, both their mastery of the controls, as well as their win percentage, will steadily improve.

According to the data available to us, the majority of sim racers are unable demonstrate any sustained improvement in their skills. Imagine trying to practice guitar every day, but never getting past an off-tempo version of Smoke on the Water for months, if not years on end? This is what three out of every four sim racers experience when taking up this hobby. They’re simply no better than when they first started.

95% of hardcore sim racers fail to make significant strides behind the wheel. The 3,000 Elo threshold is not an elitist status symbol, but merely a tangible milestone indicating said sim racer is able to demonstrate he has some grasp of what’s needed to drive a virtual race car consistently, and has made at least some sustained progress in building his set of skills.

In other words, an estimated 5% of the sim racing community actually have a clue behind the wheel, the other 95% are no better or worse than the very first day they unpacked their plastic steering wheel.

Using the data extrapolated above, in a field of 20 cars for an online event, it means there are basically two people at most who are a genuine threat to win the race. Roughly eleven drivers will struggle with consistency to the point where they are well off-pace and either crash out or are overtaken by the leaders, whereas seven may demonstrate brief moments of competence and may not be as far back as the others, but are otherwise still inconsequential to the outcome of the race.

Let’s see how close those estimated numbers are compared to a real league race. In this example from last year, we had three drivers retire from accidents, and seventeen that were beyond the consistency required to challenge for the lead.So basically, three people actually enjoyed themselves out on the race track and were able to partake in the thrill of sim racing. The other 85% were most likely bored to tits. The data we could extrapolate from iRacing’s leaderboards aligned almost perfectly with a random race I’ve pulled from the fine gentlemen at Realish Racing (these guys run a great show and I was extremely happy to compete with Mike, Craig, and Lee for a title).


But what does this tell us about the sim racing community, and what should developers be taking note of?

Well first off, it means a Driving School mode is almost mandatory at this point for any future racing game under development. Not YouTube videos, an actual interactive school. More than half of hardcore sim racers are unable to either complete a race, or simply walk away satisfied with their performance in their most recent online session where restarts are not an option. Three out of every four sim racers can’t even make any light progress behind the wheel when compared to the day they first started. We are talking almost an entire community in which every single day behind the plastic steering wheel is no better or worse than the day before it.

Is that not a giant red flag to try and help these people? Hello? I don’t give a fuck about your third GT3 physics revision – the people playing your game have no fucking idea how to play your game! There are bigger things to worry about!

Second, it actually explains why simulators as of late aren’t selling. Sim racers are spoiled for options, literally spoiled! Yet games such as Automobilista, RaceRoom, and rFactor 2 boast very little activity compared to giants such as DiRT Rally, Formula One 2017, Assetto Corsa, Project CARS 2, and iRacing. Why? The majority of the community fucking suck at the first or second sim they’ve bought, so they’re really not itching to try the ultra hardcore stuff. Instead, purchases come primarily from the 5% I’ve mentioned above.

Third, we now know there is underlying data to suggest why public lobbies across a multitude of racing games are such a nightmare. If only 5% of the community are able to slow down and brake for corners on a routine basis, no wonder every single opening turn becomes a wasteland of trashed race cars. Competent sim racers who understand the basics of performance driving are a legitimate endangered species.

Fourth, almost everything you read on a message board should be taken with a grain of salt if it isn’t already. How are we to be so sure John Smith has put out an accurate review of a new simulator or substantial physics update, when close to 60% of sim racers are prone to consistently junking their cars or being well off pace? It’s like an entire guitar enthusiast forum flooded with guys who literally just picked up a guitar that day.

Yet the biggest takeaway of them all, is the simplest. The average sim racer isn’t merely average, they’re downright brutal. And that is very strange in a hobby centered around depicting automotive competitions in a virtual environment.


162 thoughts on “An Open Secret: Sim Racers Suck at Sim Racing

  1. Prediction: No one in the PRC comments will admit to being one of the 3 out of 5 people who are backmarkers. I would wager very few PRC readers would even manage to qualify for a top split on iRenting, but of course everyone has to act like they are a virtual Senna, this blog’s writer included.


      1. *Ig Nobel Prize

        “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”


    1. Austin only brags about how fast he is because he’s already banned from the only simulation he could actually use to prove his road racing credentials on.


    2. no, i’ll straight up say it, i suck. i’ve lapped online with austin, thinking i’m doing well, until he puts on a harder tire and laps 2 seconds faster, while i then spin out. i’ve watched his onboards and just been like “wtf is he doing that i’m not”. i suck, and i really don’t know how to get better.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I dunno, that’s pretty much half the reason I stay solo and offline. I’m either in a pool way below my skill level that I can easily demolish, or, more frequently, I’m absolutely annihilated by just about anyone capable of taking a corner on tarmac without using another car as a pinball bumper.


  2. I admit – I suck. Suck accurately. Without proper training I suck about two seconds. And I do not bother myself with it. Fun first. Work… already have one. 🙂


        1. I need about 500-1000hrs of training before i even consider joining some shitty league. I’m able to put down some reasonable laptimes here and there but consistently over >10laps? Nope.
          But thats enough to read this shitty blog since 2015 and feel like an elitist prick.


  3. Anti-Defamation League: anti-Semitism in the United States has surged throughout 2017.

    Did you know that there was a 25% increase in hate crimes against Brazilians in the United States in 2016? Or that the number of Chinese who had “feelings of ill will” towards Cambodians tripled in the last three years alone?

    Of course you didn’t know those things – I just made them up.

    There’s only one group of people on this planet that is neurotic and self-absorbed enough to constantly compile statistics based upon how despised they are globally, and almost everyone reading this knows who I’m talking about.

    But if you’re not sure who I’m talking about and want to find out, consider buying Mel Gibson a few drinks at a bar.

    When you belong to a race whose chief religious doctrine is a hatred of all outsiders, and whose pre-eminent survival strategy is to vampirize host nations until their blood runs dry, you might want to anticipate the occasional backlash… such as being kicked out of 309 locations worldwide.

    Seriously, these ADL statistics always crack me up. Not just because compiling “hate lists” is objectively absurd and quintessentially Jewish, but because these people never attempt to explain why the world wants to lampshade them in the first place.

    Jews do not even attempt to explain why people hate them. It is truly an incredible situation. They are literally making the claim that people hate them for no reason, and that more people are beginning to hate them for no reason – rapidly.

    Although at the same time, they will admit that they are behind various agendas to transform Western society into a twisted mockery of what it once was.

    If anti-Semitism is really a problem which needs solved, we need to discuss what is causing it. I would be happy to have an open dialogue with the Jews of the ADL about why people hate them, and what they can do to reduce that hatred. But that won’t ever happen, because they know that if they were frank about what anti-Semitism is, more people would jump on board with it.


  4. >Yet games such as Automobilista, RaceRoom, and rFactor 2 boast very little activity compared to giants such as DiRT Rally, Formula One 2017, Assetto Corsa, Project CARS 2, and iRacing. Why?
    You’re briefly forgetting that most of those are better _games_. Dirt Rally, F1 2017 and PC2 all have established, at least decently done singleplayer modes that give you some semblance of motivation to keep going, AC has always had good marketing, especially thanks to RaceDepartment, and iRacing, in spite of its laughable physics, has by far the best multiplayer environment. Besides the physics, what exactly do AMS, rF2 and the like bring to the table? And don’t get me started on the fact that at least 3 of those 5 entries are considerably more gamepad-friendly.

    Aside from this, I agree, and I’m not surprised that the data backs it up in iR’s case. Much of the community just isn’t any good. I don’t think there’s any point in being condescending towards them or anything like that, as I’m long past the point of giving a rat’s ass about the need to prove one’s skill compared to simply having fun, but it would certainly help if developers put more effort into training their buyers and not just telling them “here’s a bunch of cars, here’s a bunch of tracks, literally pick whatever you want without even knowing what you’re doing and get to it”.


  5. So why not talking about the supposed ELO-based system in pCars 2 and the likely 90% racers there with lower ranking than they started? Especially the online-players in pCars 2 are pretty bad in average i can tell and when all iRacers would switch to pCars 2 tomorrow, the quality of racing would increase a lot i guess.

    And your arrogant view of a sim-racer, who always qualify high enough to get out of troublesome guys is no fair. When shitty players play Battlefield, they get killed a lot, but barely kill others. In sim-racing it’s about the opposite and one asshole can cause crashes with 10 people involved and penalized. The problem with this skill-ratings are: the games only count contacts unlike real racing-inspectors who likely only penalize the bad guy. And IMO it should be possible to do this better by comparing the lines and which cars are in and which one(s) not. Even when some idiot went off the track and hit me while returning i get a penalty. Even when the car of the idiot points against the fucking track-direction.

    But both titles have in common that they penalize race quits like it’s a crime to quit a race when the car is broken. So better make the 6 min. repair in a 15 min. race in iRacing and in pCars 2 better just stay on the track and do something else. What a bullshitty stupid design.


    1. >So why not talking about the supposed ELO-based system in pCars 2 and the likely 90% racers there with lower ranking than they started?
      Besides his obvious affiliation with SMS, he’d just be repeating himself by mentioning it. The “likely” doesn’t really fit in with the direction he took the article in either, seeing as he used actual data from iR and I don’t know if PC2 actually has that information readily available right now.


      1. Correct. We don’t have a public database that anyone can access.

        Plus the atmosphere of iRacing is much more serious than pCars 2. People sign up for iRacing knowing full well what they’re getting into.


    2. “When shitty players play Battlefield, they get killed a lot, but barely kill others. In sim-racing it’s about the opposite and one asshole can cause crashes with 10 people involved and penalized. The problem with this skill-ratings are: the games only count contacts unlike real racing-inspectors who likely only penalize the bad guy. And IMO it should be possible to do this better by comparing the lines and which cars are in and which one(s) not.”

      You have an urgent point there – but problem is that it is not possible to create a (useable) algoritm that can decide who is to blame for a collision/crash in a sim race.
      And having a human inspector/steward is not economical possible.


      1. It’s as impossible as creating algorithms that can run cars without real players behind. Oh wait, we call this AI and even pCars 2 is one of the worst examples, there is telemetry to compare. If a player does unexpected lines and braking points before hitting another player, a good penalty system could judge this in comparison to the AI-data and at least not penalizing the player(s) that seems to be within the expected telemetry and line. But you get even a penalty in pCars 2 while trying to avoid a crash by going off track or as a result of a former incident. When there’s a first crash, all following crashes within the area should be off penalty, because following contacts or off-tracks are probably a result of the first crash. But in pCars 2 you can even hit a car which was a ghost-car just half a second before. So even the very simple and logical algorithms are not implemented in pCars 2.


        1. @Anindo
          When there’s a first crash, all following crashes within the area should be off penalty, because following contacts or off-tracks are probably a result of the first crash.”

          Allready here in your little example there is too many variables to make a clearcut algoritm that dont create more problems than it solves.
          The reason Im pretty pesimistic about the possibility for such an algoritm is because I have spend 5 years in iRacing – where I have seen so many “impossible”(unthinkable) contacts and crashes that I have realised that such a non-human algoritm will just make things worse.

          I dont know if you have some coding experience – but I have. So…


          1. I just had an online race with a big incident in the fucking last corner with two cars spinning out and i couldn’t avoid the crash even i did no contact before. It’s so fucking easy for a software to see that two cars are out of control (even iRacing notice this), not pointing in the direction of travel at all with far lower speed than they should and i’m on the driving line with proper pace. Why do i get a fucking contact-penalty for the shitty drivers? Even stupid Forza can see how clean a driver is today, so don’t tell me shit. iRacing is really not a brillant sim at all and i hate it also because of their shitty point-system, which is far worse than SRS. Software can be far smarter than you think even it will never be perfect. My Safety-Rating should be S and not D, that’s for sure. I never caused an accident, i nearly never spin, about 50% podium-finishes with constant lap-times but still on fucking D…

            And by the way: The physics in pCars 2 are phenomenal and the complexity is unreached. In this regards SMS really nailed it with very few exceptions, so i don’t underestimate the skills of these guys. But like Ian said: pCars 8 likely will be perfect;-)


  6. Already 12 comments from people who are obviously bad sim-drivers. One trying to include Austin in the group even though there is objective evidence that he is rather good (above average for sure).

    Salty commenters as usual here. Typical low-life human beings who can’t look in the mirror and see their own faults.


    1. Being good at videogames is like being good at masturbation.

      Nobody cares and it only helps yourself get an erection every once in a while.


      1. This pretty much rings true once you’re older than middle school age. No one stands in awe of people who are good at video games, except little kids and nerdy adults.


        1. unless we’re talking about pros in esports. All the players want to be as good as them. But the reality is the majority struggles a lot to be good enough. Just like in real life.


          1. “Professionals” in eSports are just people who can play and practice for 12 hours straight, either because they’re paid or because they’re losers and have nothing else to do in their lives.

            Oh, and also to have sex with underaged girls whom might be “fans” of theirs for unlogical reasons.

            I play games to relax after a long day of working and running errands. That’s what games are. Entertainement. Not competitive trash.


      2. But with masturbation you won’t get any STDs, nor will you get anyone pregnant and have to pay child support for the next 20 years or more.

        And with games you won’t get killed or maimed, so there definitely are some parallels.


    2. “Typical low-life human beings who can’t look in the mirror and see their own faults.”

      So… you’re talking about James? Cause he’s been spending more than two years on this blog looking for faults in other people and can’t see his own.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I bet Austin got given participation medals when he was in school.

    The whole point of an ELO system isn’t to give everyone the same shitty ranking. In every game with ELO the majority of players will always be in the lower ranks. Isn’t the average CS:GO rank gold nova?


  8. Not this shit again. Go find another fucking hobby.

    95% of hardcore sim racers are better behind the wheel than the craptastic AI in Project Cars 2


  9. I agree: the average sim racer is shit.

    The average room in an average 10 drivers lobby is:

    1/2 drivers on the winning pace.
    3/4 drivers that can lap consistently but a second or two off.
    3/4 filler garbage.


  10. Hello my name is James, im better than everybody else, everybody else is shit, every game is shit unless you pay me to say otherwise, my prolapse is bigger than yours.


  11. I don’t have time to race online very often (and the last time I was rammed by a backmarker anyway), but I guess I should feel lucky that my talent/level is in the top tier. That means that aliens like Austin are untouchable, and then with enough practice on a track and a good setup, I can compete with the best of the rest. Guaranteed challenge and fun, until I get rammed.

    I tend to have a good fight with one or two others, so if there’s no alien in the lobby, I have a chance to win.

    I see the average sim racer as equal to the video game reviewers. They can’t get 5 seconds of footage without crashing, quitting an event, or driving the wrong way. They praise the physics, the features and the AI, but can’t finish a lap. They giggle like schoolgirls at how incompetent they are, at how hardcore it is, at how embarrassing this all is, but it feels great with a “racing wheel”.


    1. James isn’t an alien. He’s a great oval driver, a good GT and TC driver, and a decent open wheel driver.

      And if you think he is it means you’re not good, but average.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. >These are not stoned teenagers renting NBA 2K from Blockbuster and getting blown out by the AI for trying to shoot threes with Shaq. That’s not the iRacing crowd at all.

    It’s funny you say that because the first weekend that I owned iRacing I was completely blasted and still managed to win about half the races I joined, granted I was only doing fixed setup mx5 races because I didn’t want to give up more money then I already was just for the subscription. I only had iRenting for a month before cancelling the subscription, and by the end of the month I was in the top split, but even then it was always the same people in every race, with the top 2-4 running away with every race, the rest of the pack horribly off pace or wrecking one another.


  13. Worth mentioning that any ELO system will always have that spread, regardless of the abilities of the participants. Imagine this years F1 campaign with ELO rankings. Alonso would have a basement value.

    So the proof is flawed. The premise is correct though. Most sim racers are not very competent, just like in the real world where most drivers are not very competent.


  14. Sadly this article is correct, the ‘sim’ or race game driving standards are generally awful across all the platforms. Assetto Corsa arriving on console showed just how badly ‘sim’ handling and casual racers mix.

    The stats read like a bit of an iracing advertorial but they also demonstrate the 80/20 rule in life once more.

    Persevering to find those great online racing moments is worth it though. If you can find similarly skilled and practiced friends who share the same racing ethos you get more and more of these moments.

    It starts with knowing what you want from your online racing hobby. If it’s win at all costs great join iracing or a decent pro league. If it’s gentlemanly and social racing as close to real as possible that is out there too. When you meet decent racers online and have a good close race message or talk to them, I’ve struck up plenty of good racing friendships over the years this way. Systems like iracing or pcars2 ratings might well help but being part of the solution to find good racing has yielded the best results for me and no expensive subscriptions were required.


  15. The problem with your analysis is that system is a zero sum game. In every race, no matter how clean, 50% will be in the bottom half. So it’s normal that 50% struggle to climb up the ladder.

    Also, if we are to use your same analysis and overlap it with the latest F1 GP results, then F1 drivers are actually abysmal too. 2nd place was 20s behind, 3rd was 54s behind, 11 drivers were lapped and 5 people didn’t finish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’d be more interesting to look at the abilities of a 1350 rated player who’s played a while to get an idea of the ‘average’ simracer’s ability. Do they finish on the lead lap?


  16. Thank you for not putting Elo in all caps like the rest of the trail horse internet.

    All of the forums full of chatter on best settings, immersion, and blah blah blah with a bunch of others all spreading the same misinformation lead us to 1) thousands of people not knowing what the hell the damper and spring settings of their wheel actually do and 2) these same idiots not getting any seat time and improving their skills.

    For the grand majority, it feel like the genre isn’t sim racing, but “wasting time talking/reading about sim racing.”

    Stop tweaking, shut up, and drive. Improve!


  17. Using iRacing as an example of measuring the goodness of sim-racers is kind of a wonky idea. I was fairly competent on the service when I was racing there. Even won a race in the top split of the grand prix series (williams) once.

    The thing to keep in mind about iRacing is those at the front of the field have probably spent hours running practice laps that week (except the true aliens who can arrive and drive about anything). The top end and bottom end of the field is largely split by those who practice a lot, those who practice a little and those who practice not at all.

    I got tired of putting in hours of practice every week and basically not getting to do much of anything else for entertainment. Therefore, I stopped iRacing. I have far more fun arriving and driving on other sims online with others who haven’t put in hours of practice, just like me 🙂

    BTW – you have the same effect in leagues as you must (unless alien) put in hours of practice to be competitive on saturday night. Tried that – wasn’t for me either.


    1. @David
      “being good in iracing where you have to drive the car wrong to be fast…awesome.”

      Eventhough I agree fully with you about iRacings flawed physics (= car behaviour) then your sarcastic conclusion is flawed too.
      Because the car behaviour is the same for all iRacers – and therefore it would probably be exactly the same drivers in top and bottom IF iRacing had a more “realistic” car behaviour!

      Analogy: If RL F1 changed the tire supplyer to a brand with a complete different tire characteristics it would more or less be the same drivers in top/bottom 🙂


      1. Sure if the only form of driving all those people do is iRacing.

        Incidentally James’ road iRating was sub-2k. The ease of which he portrays advancement when you’re as likely to get plowed in the door for no reason before turn 1 in lower ranks as anything is fairly dishonest. The system also encourages just cruising around in the back to get your next license so you can drive new cars and get away from the trial account f2p’ers (starting from the pits when Street Stock is at Charlotte is just about the only reliable way out of oval rookie unless the Legends happen to be on a drivable physics version) which has a negative medium term effect on iRating progress.


  18. I’m a backmarker, and I understand your point, James. But I’d like to show things from a different perspective.

    I think there’s a huge difference between people who actually want to get better and people who just don’t give a fuck about it. It takes time and effort to become better at racing. I’m in my 30s, with work and family, so I know I don’t have enough time, but I do make an effort to at least not become a liability on the track. I know it doesn’t help in terms of competition for the skilled racers, but it’s better than some idiot taking out half the grid in the first corner.

    I’m playing mostly PCars 2 online these days. I know I’m not good enough to join a private league, so I have to stick to public lobbies. The license system is nice, but it could be so much better. A lot of folks out there just want to enter a lobby and step on the gas, as if they were on Need for Speed, screwing a lot of people who are really trying to race.

    Let me give an example: I enter yet another GT3 race at Monza and find the usual types (people who can actually race, people in F488s who are able to make consistent laps but are usually 2-3 seconds slower than the first group – I’m usually here – and the folks who can’t manage to complete a single lap and finish the qualifying session without a valid time). I qualify somewhere in the middle of the pack, which sucks, but what can you do.

    The race starts, and I try to race clean to avoid problems in the first chicane. Then some asshole comes crashing through, and I GET A FREAKING CONTACT WARNING. I know that in terms of skill I won’t make it past my current 1200-1300 rating for the time being, but I know I could be a B driver at least, if it weren’t for this type of stuff.

    Rating restricted lobbies could also be much better. You can set the minimum rating but not the maximum, so you can’t really set up a “Rookie” lobby if you want it. Here’s another example: eventually you get lucky and have a nice session with people on the same level as you. Then, on the next race, other people join in and you find yourself with half the grid made of people who are much faster than you. When you find yourself 5 seconds behind in practice, because you can’t setup your car properly AND you don’t have the same skills as them, you end up leaving the lobby, because you know you’ll lose 30-50 points on your rating if you stay for the race and you don’t wanna risk it.

    Yes, most sim racers suck at sim racing. But let’s say this rating system worked better, and I managed to reach B1250 rating. Mediocre but reliable. And let’s say I could set up a lobby restricted to B1200 to A1300. We could have much better online races, cleaner and more even for everyone. That would increase the fun factor and encourage more people to join in and, perhaps, increase the overall level of the sim racers. I might get some flak for saying this lol.

    BTW, I just reinstalled GTR2 to try the driving school again. It really helps.


    1. “I’m in my 30s, with work and family, so I know I don’t have enough time, but I do make an effort to at least not become a liability on the track.”

      You’re not alone. Usually I just have time to play every now and then because other more important things require time. I’ve had good races at the middle of the pack with the right people because they were about the same skill level and tried to do some clean quality racing.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. You don’t have to be good enough to join a private league, you just wanna have to race. In my first race I took out the leader who was also the points leader. I apologized and he was gracious even though he lost the race due to my actions.

      If you play PC and are interested in joining a league that is populated by a bunch of old men let me know as a reply and we can share steam profiles.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The funny part is I did take part in the Div4 Monza race of the esports WTCC events held by RaceRoom and while us Div4 guys were pretty slow compared to the top players and really some of us are probably just people tinkering with the game every now and then, the first corner was actually decent. For those unfamiliar with the competition we were the slowest guys to race. (I’m #62) There was some corner cutting and slight contact but we did get the start right. Then most of my passes were made because people were running off, but all in all it was a pretty decent race for me, with one guy I was trying to catch and another behind me I was running away from 🙂 .

    If some other simracers are as bad as you say I guess I’m pretty proud of that race.


  20. Older inside sim racing, joe nathan, simracingpaddock will marsh, jimmy broadbent, ferrariman and gamermuscle aren’t good drivers but love pumping out videos and feel their opinions are good. The forum fanboys are even worse, they hide behind no videos and no online racing.


  21. 95% are slow, and I bet they tune their own car.
    This is why Fixed set up racing is better for the masses. Take that option out and all they can focus on is driving better.

    They blame the set up, and spend more time playing around with set up than they do trying to drive better.

    In my Iracing profile I have these quotes…Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance….Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge

    At least I know I suck.


    1. Setting up a car can be just as hard as learning to drive well. I used to suck at setting up the car, but thanks to the tips on PRC I’ve learned to tune my virtual cars to get the most out of them with my current (lack of) driving skill. I still know very little but it sure helps. This leads to better laptimes and more stability and consistency. So while I am still pretty damn slow I can still drive a 40-minute race with very little chances of spinning or doing anything too stupid.

      I think new players could benefit from learning how setups work because it would make them (along with practice) more conaistent racers. The cars don’t have to be hard to drive, but work FOR and WITH you.

      I still giggle when I pass faster guys because they end up in the gravel 🙂

      I did a DTM2013 race on R3E once on Brands Hatch Indy against AI. I sucked and didn’t even finish in the points. I practiced more and set up the car properly and managed a much better finish. Plus going 3-wide into Druids with the confidence that I’ll make it out well was a real rush.


  22. If you must know, my Elo is and has been about 1400-1450 for a while. I play somewhat regularly and it fluctuates a bit, but recently has stabilized around that number,

    But I don’t know what chess has to do with all of this.


  23. This article may bring me back to iRacing, but not as a training tool. More like to show people how sim racing should be done.


  24. Haven`t read the article, but i`m quite sure it`s somewhere along the lines of “Hurrr durrr i`m so amazing and fast, bow down before my autistic feet and suck my long cock`o simracing you plebs”

    Top kek 10/10


      1. His summary is very accurate, I’m actually suspicious that he did in fact read the whole article before he originally posted it.


    1. It was just made openly available, I think. I feel it’s my duty to watch it, so I guess I’ll have to. :/

      I hate both Hollywood and sex crimes, should be fun.


  25. Nice article. I found your comparison with playing the guitar very suitable as someone who has been playing for only 2 years. Besides actual teachers (obviously out of reach for an average simracer), guitar players have access to all sorts of video lessons,tutorials, whole sites dedicated to teaching, or even new software and games that teach you to get better in intuitive ways, like Rocksmith. Simracing however is stuck in circlejerk where all the good guys want to do is wave their dicks around, and everyone else has little incentive or ways to get better, since the elite won’t help them. It would be like if every millionaire, decades-old band started showing up at some kid’s garage band gig in a bar and booed them for not being pros.

    I guess developers can (but probably won’t) implement some sort of way to have players engage in some deliberate practice in order to improve their skills, like a driving school mode, a challenge mode, tutorials, etc. But most of these have been eschewed in the last 10 years (except in titles like GT Sport, who would have guessed?) for the directionless sandbox that is a modern simracing title. Ultimately however this is more of a community issue, as the people with actual skills don’t want to help anyone else (which only makes their own experience less enjoyable in the long run), and the unlucky majority are just alienated and eventually driven off to other genres and hobbies.


    1. There are a few resources like videos about racecraft and tutorials on, for example, but of course nothing like what you get for guitar.

      I guess you could compare the bigger iSpenders with these guys that know a few chords and a few exercises from Intermediate Blues Rock Guitar Volume 2, yet own a Mesa Mark V, an Axe-FX, an American PRS and a ’74 Strat.


    2. Except he’s using the point system as a foundation for his article. So leaning guitar is not a proper comparison, as unlike the Elo system, it is not a zero sum game. You getting better at guitar has no bearing whatsoever on your classmates progress.

      However, you getting better and scoring higher on iRacing absolutely affect your fellow racers rating.


  26. I am an advocate for fixed setup racing. I am not that fast so having an equal playing field lets you compare the skill level of driving instead of knowing the quirks of yet another game to make your setup crazy fast that wouldn’t apply to real life. If I am 3 seconds off on a fixed setup – I know it is my bad driving, if the setup is open – I have no idea whether I am slow or just do not have the know-how or a buddy who knows how to tune it for a specific game. It is most likely both.

    Here is an idea how to fix this – ditch the overcomplicated telemetry for a racing school – developers could add a simple analysis with a guide that shows every corner of the track & explaining why you are slower: too early on the brakes, too late on the brakes, locking them up, too late on the gas, wide off the line on entry, early on the line on entry. Things like these can be easily measured since we are talking about simulation – game has every single data point.

    Also having “safe driving” situations like what do you do when you lock up your brakes, what do you do when you get sideways, when you go off track, recovering from lift oversteer, recovering from trail braking.


    1. “I am an advocate for fixed setup racing.”

      How about letting the game take full control over your car?
      If you are so lacking of knowledge about setting up the car and where and when to press the throttle and use the brake as you are revealing then it would be much more simple to letting the game take over.
      Or to install a racing manager – instead of demanding that other sim drivers unlearn their skills.


      1. go ahead and spend hours on set up, and still be slow.
        Take out need to play with set up, all your time now can be used to learn to driv fast.

        Making the car fit your slow pace is not helping.


        1. “go ahead and spend hours on set up, and still be slow.”

          If you remains slow because of lack of driving talent and skill – then at least some setup knowledge will make it possible to create a setup that suits you better than a default setup.
          Hehe and you can allways use it as an excuse that others are faster because they unfair are allowed to mess with setups 😉


            1. I wonder if it does ever occur for people like you that maybe half of simracers does enjoy messing with setups.
              Partly because they often know what they are doing and partly to test out if this knowledge can make their virtuel car behave better.
              Likewise I wonder why people lacking the knowledge to set up a virtuel car allways want to make it impossible for the more skilled drivers to use their setup knowledge.


  27. It’s lonely at the top? By its nature, competition can only have very few winners. In any grid of 15 drivers, only 20% of them can be on the podium. If you took that top 20% from all races and made them race each other exclusively in 15-car grids, only 20% of them could make the podium, eliminating 80% of the initial top 20%… And so on, until there’s only 1 winner. Just because few rise to the top, it doesn’t mean everyone else is “atrocious.”

    A 9th place 100-meter sprinter at the Olympics isn’t a slow runner when there are only 8 people on the entire planet who can beat them. Much of the ‘sim racing community’ considers anyone who can’t lap within 2 seconds of world-record pace as “bad/scrubs/noobs,” regardless of the fact that being as much as 4 (sometimes more) seconds off a world-record is often still in the top 20% of the overall player population.

    Motorsport games/sims could & should do better at encouraging more motorsport-like behavior among players. If you try to play a football or basketball video game against the rules of the sport, the game will either prevent it or penalize it – football & basketball video games don’t allow players just go around kicking other players in the balls, but you can repeatedly plow your car into other cars in many motorsport games/sims with little consequence.

    Some motorsport games/sims even have incentives that can encourage wrecking. Assetto Corsa has this achievement: “Completely destroy your car – obtained if the player reaches the max level of damage on his car.” The first Project CARS game has this achievement: “Credit Where Credit’s Due – crashed into the AI counterpart of an SMS employee.” Why don’t wee see more achievements like: “win a race without incurring any penalties” or “make 3 clean passes in 1 race” or “win a race with a gap of 3 seconds or more over 2nd place?”


    1. That’s just a steam achievement bro. Is meant for the single player game. It also has other achievements where you must complete it only with valid laps, by staying inside the white lines.

      But yea, lets blame one steam achievement for encouraging MP mayhem.

      On the other side, AC’s MP has an anti-wrecking server feature where players get auto kicked for too many contacts per km.


  28. What you state is true but you will see the exact same thing in real racing.Really slow drivers are not often on tv because most of them are the top drivers in their catergory.Watch the Blancpain GT3 series & you will see some Amateur drivers lapping 3 secs off the pace.Watch or compete in club racing & you will see a field much the same as Iracing.Top 3 are really fast,Top10 are good,mid pack are ok & backmarkers are slow.The driving is better because the barrier to entry is greater.Turn 1 at Monza will be tidier because often the guy driving will have to pay to repair the car,do the work to repair the car & also has some self preservation in mind.


  29. i suck and admit it. i cant be bothered to put in the time to practice and just enjoy hot lapping instead of racing. But I at least recognize I suck and recognize what I enjoy.


      1. Although not 100% true, when you look at something like the rF2’s WFG competition where some guys were putting over 1400 laps over the course of a week (full layout) (I did the math, it equates to roughly 6 hours a day), you do have to wonder


        1. Fundamentally, auto racing is not a good game experience. If you look at the principles laid down by the designers of board games (who are making up new competitive ‘sports’ and need to make ones that’ll sell well) racing fails most of them.

          – player interaction: the player should be able to influence other players’ success. If they can’t they might as well be playing solitaire. But not by too much, or griefing will happen as soon as someone can’t win.
          Gets straight to the point really. The only way you influence another driver is by being within visual range of them (or actually running into them). If not you’re just hotlapping and even if the gap is closing it’s not very satisfying.
          – game length: games should be short, to allow lots of games during the time you have to play.
          Obviously this depends how much time you have, but iracing’s “40 hour of playing -> 1 race” seems like the worst case scenario. Quick sprint races are a much better fit for most peoples’ schedules.
          – runaway leaders: the earlier in the game someone can become a clear winner, the worse the game is. At the same time, it shouldn’t be preferable to be in 2nd place.
          Probably racing’s biggest sin. If someone is faster, they lose contact range with other drivers and then nothing anyone can do will cause them to win. This is not just a sim racing thing, this is fundamental, auto racing. This is why F1 keeps trying to make more passing possible with p2p, different aero kits, etc. A game where someone starts to win and nobody can challenge them is not as exciting to play or watch. It’s no longer interactive, it becomes “who lapped fastest this day”. You may as well just be hotlapping against a leaderboard.
          – social: a game should allow the players to interact with each other socially, while playing.
          Voice chat handles this one pretty well. More games should figure out a way to support it directly (so public lobbies have it, not just in-group private sessions).
          – deterministic game length: players prefer to know how long the game will take.
          The only one racing really does well. There’s a fixed maximum length of the game, that’s it, done.
          – downtime: players should be taking an active role in the game as much as possible. If there is downtime it should be social.
          Having to practice is probably the loneliest part of racing. I suppose this one needs some community effort – chatty practice sessions, ties in with making voice chat accessible.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. This is a really cogent analysis.

            I will say that little else compares with the thrill of slowly reeling someone in and then executing a clean pass – especially IRL. It’s sufficiently addictive that, though rare, it makes it worth suffering through these various negative aspects.

            Intermittent reinforcement (think gambling) is the most powerful inducer of behavior here, as elsewhere in life.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. >and need to make ones that’ll sell well
            This is where the relevance of your argument starts to fall apart, not because your post is bad in any way (it isn’t), but because that sort of mentality automatically clashes with auto racing in a way that merely sets them apart through fundamental differences rather than making one objectively worse than the other. Even as an avid board game player (I enjoy them far more than most video games these days), the ideas of those designers are automatically bad for competitive gaming since they’re more about low-stakes, memorable, casual competitions and especially drawing more players in (and thus making more cash). Racing, by its very nature, is considerably more hardcore and more about winning the war rather than every single battle. The only real “problem” is that this doesn’t suit the majority of people, and the few that remain beyond that are often spread across an overly large skill pool due to the importance of raw talent, leading to disappointments like the WFG, as well as questionable features like AC’s pub lobby system which fails to suit either side. However, the very fact that this could even be remotely seen as a problem highlights the impossibility to bring the board game mentality and the racing mentality together, or to make one look objectively better than the other.

            >the player should be able to influence other players’ success
            This is only actually good in conditions where a single “game” (race in this case) has 100% importance, which isn’t the case with racing (leagues, real life championships etc).

            >The only way you influence another driver is by being within visual range of them (or actually running into them). If not you’re just hotlapping and even if the gap is closing it’s not very satisfying.
            It’s only unsatisfying if you want every single experience to be a memorable one and don’t care as much about the end result. It’s yet another one of those things that is strongly applicable to board games due to their casual nature, but nowhere near as much to racing and general hardcore gaming.

            >game length: games should be short, to allow lots of games during the time you have to play.
            See above.

            >Quick sprint races are a much better fit for most peoples’ schedules.
            See the first paragraph. By its very nature, racing is not for the average Joe. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest, as it doesn’t mean that there isn’t more that the known developers can do to attract more players, and the ratio of top tier players, even demonstrably low as it is from this article, is still significantly higher than with board games. In fact, you’ll find a more niche case of this with American sports, as the largely casual sports mentality leads to American sportsmen being, on average, significantly worse than their European counterparts in anything that wasn’t particularly well-suited for them in the first place (or which they’re the only ones to compete in, like the NFL). Alonso making the IndyCar field look like a joke this year wasn’t a reflection of Alonso’s talent, but rather the IndyCar field’s lack of it, which is a perfect example of this.

            >runaway leaders: the earlier in the game someone can become a clear winner, the worse the game is. At the same time, it shouldn’t be preferable to be in 2nd place.
            Again, another one of those things that highlights just how irreconcilably different board games and racing are. With board games, this is naturally correct as you want a close, enjoyable competition, but the downside to this is that the very action of winning becomes significantly less important, something which would never work in racing where winning is, quite rightly, much more important than simply competing.

            >This is why F1 keeps trying to make more passing possible with p2p, different aero kits, etc.
            And this is very very bad and will come back to haunt Liberty Media and the FIA. Sooner rather than later at this rate.

            >A game where someone starts to win and nobody can challenge them is not as exciting to play or watch.
            Why should the viewers matter? This is why I don’t get the point of eSports in racing – the better you make it for the average mindless viewer, the worse it becomes for those competing, which is fine for most sports, but absolutely terrible for racing. F1’s appeal in past years was precisely its elitist nature, for instance, but since 2009, this has simply not been the case, and it’s thus easy to see why the sport now struggles to come up with any sort of real identity for itself. And why would it not be exciting to play? If you’re only racing to have a good fight every single time, you’re doing it wrong and board games would be better for you.

            >You may as well just be hotlapping against a leaderboard.
            See the last sentence.

            >social: a game should allow the players to interact with each other socially, while playing
            Again, an irreconcilable difference between the two. The social element is important for casual competitions because having a good time and especially enjoying yourself with friends is more important than winning. This is not and will never be the case with racing, and neither should it be. The way it works now is precisely the way it should.

            >downtime: players should be taking an active role in the game as much as possible. If there is downtime it should be social
            See above, especially combined with the third quote.


            1. Well fine, so long as you understand this is why it’s not a popular genre and game companies are not very interested in adding these features.


        2. They weren’t even good. It was very easy to tell that all they really did was practice mindlessly until it all became repetitive to them, which was perfect for WFG where the game-car-track combinations were often poorly suited for racing and thus often devolved into just setting a few laps and waiting for others to somehow screw up.


  30. It’s been a looong time since I’ve been around but nice to see the image with Craig’s name on the championship standings! Good and clean racer, he forced me to actually push in order to win when we did a league with the cars he liked. If only he’d have done our CART 98 or not have been frustrated with the F-Classic. We wiped the field, it was a long race so he was 45s behind but everyone behind him was lapped, and he himself lapped up to fourth place if I recall correctly.

    I like to do my own data work to not lose nuances but there are many guys who hit a progression barrier where they don’t gain any more speed, remaining off pace, with the difference being those who are able to learn or improve their racecraft. It’s better they don’t overdo trying to match someone else’s pace as gains over one lap are lost from spins and offs, or even crashes, during a race. That’s not to mention the guys who can achieve very fast laps on unlimited practice or qualifying sessions without a lap cap, but come race time tend to crash as they again lack the craft or ability to drive quickly consistently.

    Lastly, as written before, some very outspoken guys who aren’t good enough to supply and push their opinions to the public, like to do so to gain online following and income from YouTube. I’ve never done voice over videos and only write on forums to correct information or provide further info… albeit much less frequently now because there are so many people that fall in the earlier portion of that knowledge curve but are rather outspoken.


    1. There are also the guys who while not fast or fast enough, do have consistency and avoid causing crashes. Sometimes they cause one or can’t avoid one, but that’s racing and it happens to everyone at some point. If only more people would have more fun out of their games so they’d not get so demotivated to a point of leaving leagues or even shelving all racing games for a while.


  31. I am on my lunch at work so reading the whole comments section is TLDR. If I cover ground that has already been covered…well, shoot me.

    The problem with your premise, James, is that you are assuming all races that cause one to score in the lower half is due to the driver’s error.

    Yes and no. I am by no means an alien. What I try to be is consistent. There are those I race against who are much faster than I but may have a bit of bad luck in a race. Then I beat them. Most of the time they beat me.

    The problem is servers where you are racing against people who may have a SR that indicates they are safe drivers but they achieve that score by being back markers for the time it takes to reach the SR they desire.

    In short: They do not race, they luke-warm lap. In doing so they do not improve their pack-driving skills, they do not learn to take different lines to pass, they do not learn to hang back and pressure the driver in front of them to make a mistake, they don’t learn how to defend safely, they do not develop the reactions to avoid most of the accidents that occur ahead of them, and they do not know how to recover when they go over the limit. The list goes on…

    My nickname when I raced in a PC league was “Loopy” and one could guess why. I averred that it was due to the physics of the car, not my driving. But I often looped and lost. When I got into iChasing I was determined to drastically lessen the spins BUT I was not going to stop being aggressive; I was going to learn how to race.

    I did and progressed to a certain level. It took me longer as I had to learn how to drive correctly but I made it.

    Then I got placed with racers who were “better” than me, I raced Div 8 Porsche cup last season (I told you I was not good, just consistent) and won the season. It was not because I was an alien but because I knew most of the field would crash out and leave me to third or just off the podium. I managed to win three races in the ‘schlieffe just because I knew most of the “better” drivers did not know how to run the track and I could pressure them into offs and spins. I did.

    Now we get to the crux of the issue: A racer achieves a level in which he or she shows progress, gets promoted to higher levels and expects that these drivers are better. They are, to an extent. Yet there are still those who consistently crash or cause crashes, thus taking points away from the drivers they crash out. The penalty for being hit by a “better” racer is severe while the reward for racing hard, yet safe, is much, much less. I have had “better” drivers hit me, take me out and I get a 50 point penalty then win a race, or podium, and get a few points. The penalties are far stiffer than the reward. This is probably a good reason why many of us cannot get our points as fast as you say we should.

    I have not participated in iChasing since PC2 released. PC2 is much cheaper and I can get the same thrills in a “Sim” that is not much different than iChasing other than the people who race. In PC2 the points system works in a similar manner and one of the ways is that it penalizes much more than it rewards. I have, numerous times, brought my rating up to a decent level only to see it fall precipitously by server disconnects and other network errors and by drivers who’s score should indicate a certain level of expertise but in reality are abhorrent competitors.

    I have pressured “better” drivers into mistakes, made close passes for position, defended legally, tried to avoid the inevitable Monza stupidity, only to be rammed by pissed off drivers who don’t like being passed by those who have a lower score, idiots who have higher scores but think they own the road, and plain old: “How the fuck did he get his score?” racers.

    Get rid of a system where the punishment is weighted far heavier than the rewards, get a system that actually makes road rage crashes illegal and penalizes in such a manner, and add a freaking driving school and you may see many of the scores raise to a level that is actually indicative of their abilities.

    I own a A1347 in PC2 but I have also lost that much in server disconnects, road rage, and just plain stupidity. While I may not be the racer you are my score is not reflective of my actual ability. It is reflective of my ability, the ability of others (and subsequent penalties when they fuck up) and software/hardware issues.

    I would be happy to race you. You will beat me but you may also see that my score, be it iChasing, PC2, R3E, ect…is not reflective of my abilities but the result of a random decision to utilize a program that is set up to give maximum penalties and minimum rewards.

    Sorry about the novel but this is, obviously, a peeve of mine and I do not accept: “You can avoid those problems!”

    No, you cannot if you want to work you way up the ladder and have to cut your way through the on-line chaff.


    1. All of these issues are why it’s important to continue forcing developers *not* to disregard offline racing in favor of some notional alternate reality where the majority of online drivers are half-decent.

      One major issue is simply that there can never be any *really* severe penalties for asinine driving. These are games, and the players are therefore more “customer” than “competitor”.

      Consequently, the game can’t really afford to outright banish the wreckers and other assholes, because they’re paying customers just like you.

      This sort of egalitarian approach would never work at a real race track, and for good reason. The only hope is League Racing among trusted participants (essentially what you have IRL), human monitors (iRacing) or Offline (vs AI).

      I prefer the latter because, after working in the ER all week, the last thing I want to do is interact with humans 😉




  32. I don’t know about now but a few years ago a typical road race in iRacing looked like that: you started the race, got near the first corner then got smashed to smithereens by some dickead brazilian scumbag. Didn’t really matter where you were in the grid, they’d always find you.

    It was pretty hard to improve your rating like that. Have they banned them yet?


  33. Because of the way talent distribution works, you’re going to find similar percentages in literally anything skill/talent based. If you graph anything that involves talent, you’re going to end up with an exponential curve where almost everyone is grouped on the left.


  34. Has anyone mentioned driving under the influence, We’re supposedly not allowed to in real life, so why not do it on a pretend race track. I’m sure it causes a fair bit of shit.


  35. so you think in 85% of cases you get first out of some race, really appreciate your modesty…do you also have a girl under the table sucking your dick when racing? Cause that is mandatory if you really wanna have success, and probably also serious simgear, no kids bullshit intended


  36. You know there was a minute there when I was thinking Austin was actually remotely intelligent but there goes that theory. This has to be one of the stupidest articles I’ve ever read. The entire point of ELO is that the top finishers gain points and the bottom finishers lose points – it doesn’t care about how good you are. **Even if iRacing consisted solely of the best 5000 professional racers in the world, half of them would be – wait for it – below average, and thus lose points from their starting position.** ELO inflation is a thing, but it comes from – as you briefly touched on and then ignored – new players joining and then giving their starting points to older, better players – it’s a natural part of any similar ranking system. I’m not saying most sim racers are good because they’re not, but this entire article is fatally flawed and exposes a complete misunderstanding of how ELO, and statistics in general, works.


    1. I actually agree with what you are saying in theory. As a net Elo gain
      can only be awarded to the top half of any given field, the maximum
      “competence level” the sim racing community can achieve is technically

      Someone brought this up already by saying Fernando
      Alonso’s Elo rank from the F1 season this year would be 0, because…
      well… McLaren.

      Two ways to dispute this.

      First, Elo in iRacing is calculated across your entire career, so his
      theoretical Elo would still be quite high from 10+ seasons in Formula
      one, plus GP2 and whatever else he ran on his way up the ladder. Let’s
      say Fernando’s Elo pre-2017 is 22,856, well maybe he is simply at
      16,050 now. This number is still insanely high from the career
      starting value of 1,350 because he’s built up a cushion. A rather
      large one.

      So take Daytona week on iRacing as an adequate comparison. It’s
      possible to wreck out of six straight Daytona races through no fault
      of your own, and still be above the magic number of 3,000, because up
      to that point you’ve amassed an Elo cushion.

      Second, unlike F1, the grids in iRacing are always changing,
      especially if you are among lower Elo ranked drivers in a highly
      populated series because there are so many splits. You are not racing
      the same drivers, race after race, until you hit the 4,200 mark (at
      least this is how it was when I was on iRacing). What this does is
      increase the probability for a net Elo gain.

      This is where the data from the article comes into play. Even with the
      constant field reshuffling, just 15% of the crowd are able to
      demonstrate short-term consistency. Not race wins, but merely going
      out and posting some 4th and 3rd place finishes over the span of a few
      nights against drivers of a similar skill level.

      Though it is impossible for this number to surpass 50% because as you
      said, fundamentally Elo does not allow for this to happen, the percentage of iRacers who have
      surpassed 2K should be slightly higher. A 2k iRating percentage of
      25-30% would be a much more reasonable accomplishment to ask of the


      1. Just lost nearly 50 points in pCars 2 because of a first corner crash and quitting. I don’t think Alonso can be at 0 with his DNF-rate or pCars 2 is no real Elo-system.


      2. You just don’t get it do you? You’re asking for the average ELO to increase. That’s not how it works. That’s like saying that most League of Legends players suck because over half of them are Gold or worse. While they may indeed suck, the entire point of the system is to make sure it ends up that way, regardless of the actual skill displayed.


  37. James, not everyone has figured out that smoking copious amounts of weed makes you a better sim racer. Mostly because it feels so much better, kind of like jerking off while high, or if you are a really lucky fucker, having sex with an actual person while high. If you want to win at sim racing and life in general, smoke weed (but not so much weed that you think your family members and friends are spying on you – that’s too much.)


  38. As someone who signs up to iracing for 1 month 2 or times a year. There is one trait most people on the service have. They seem to focus on single lap pace rather than making it to the end of the race.In open practice sessions you see this as well. Most guys won’t put together more than 3 clean laps in a row, but still think they are ready to race.

    While professionals drivers are praised for always being on the limit they don’t actually drive like that. The best drivers win by driving as slowly as possible. When drivers do/need be on the edge for an extended period of time its an impressive feet. Performing anything more than 3 qualifying laps in a row is normally seen as impressive.

    I’ve noticed in Iracing. By simply driving to stay on track starting from the back you can overtake 1/3 of the field because they crash.

    If you compare sim racing to Sunday league football (Soccer). Sim racers are practicing step-overs and drag backs without learning how to pass and shoot.

    The “average” sim racer if they worked on making it the end of a race consistently probably would be between 2-6 seconds a lap off the pace of the fastest guys. You see this in “support” series IRL by the final laps of 10-15 lap races they back markers are being caught or lapped by the guys at the front. Sunday league sports work the same the “top” teams in a division will rack up a lot of “easy” wins while the “bottom” teams will struggle. Its the mid teir teams who compete with each other.

    As one of the fast guys You (James/Austin) will never have enough competition on a service like iracing. Unfortunately most people with the talent to be fast sim racers are doing other things like playing field sports, FPSes, MOBAs or fighting games. Although the barrier to sim-racing is lower than real motorsports its more expensive than its alternatives.


  39. Not going to lie, I suck, hence the name. But I’ve had this name far too long

    I started sim racing about a year ago but all I ever could do is hot laps and driving school in gtr2 (many of the challenges I still can’t beat)

    But now I’m finally able to place in the top half of the field with ai at 100, so maybe there is hope for me


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