• Danny Lee

Worried About Racing Online in iRacing? We Want You Here

Are you a sim racer that completes lap after lap exclusively in solo test sessions because you’re worried you’ll accidentally wreck someone’s race if you join in the fun online?

If so, remember this one thing; WE WANT YOU HERE.

Merely paying consideration to other racers on track means you are one of the good guys and you will certainly be welcome amongst the pack. The only thing separating you from the real fun and adrenaline of online racing is a few good races to show you that you belong in the community.

You're not being silly, it is scary. But there are races happening right now that would be better off with you in it, with drivers of the same skill and mindset as you that otherwise would be racing against nobody.

There are a lot of things that can deter you from entering the fray, but the number one reason is fear of retribution if you make a mistake that spoils someone’s race. To a lesser degree it’s also fear of being slow or not doing well, but mostly it’s about causing anguish to someone else or slowing other people down.

Of course, it feels bad to make an honest mistake that leads someone else to turn to the keyboard or voice chat and voice their frustration because of you. But there are things to remember, little antidotes which can help you move on with your day if this happens, without losing the will to partake.

Image Credit: Andy Taylor | Groove Media

Number 1: TURN OFF VOICE CHAT. It’s off by default I believe, but if not you should certainly turn it off. All you’ll ever hear over voice chat during a race are complaints, apologies and mud slinging, so turn it off to help you keep the right frame of mind during a race. It overwhelmingly fails to add anything of value in the official sessions where it’s mostly strangers and unfamiliar names. It’s useful in community races but overall it’s just a channel for abuse to be slung for all to hear.

Number 2: IGNORE TEXT CHAT DURING THE RACE. If there’s a collision, there are two ways people deal with disappointment, that’s to set it free and move on, or point it at the person they feel did them wrong to try and offload the emotion. Either way, everything that is said during the race by disgruntled drivers wedged in the tyre barriers.

Number 3: YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT’LL BE MAKING MISTAKES. Everyone makes mistakes, in one race it’s you, in the next race it’ll be someone else, the next race someone else. It’s a highly common occurrence and you will not be ridiculed or shamed for having an accident. I have witness highly prestigious eSports teams making mistakes that lead to someone else bearing the brunt - it happens up and down the grid, all around the track, multiple times per race.

Number 4: INSTALL CREW CHIEF. Crew Chief is a fantastic, easy to use piece of software made by Britton IT that has become a must-have app for all sim racers. Crew Chief is designed to be the guy in your ear that’s sitting on the pit wall and it’s brilliant. It tells you when there’s a car close to you to help you avoid contact, it also warns you when you’ve strayed over the track limits, it encourages you when you’re doing well and tries to give you a bit of a push when you’re having a bad time. And it does all of this addressing you by your real name.

It will make a big difference if you’re feeling a bit alone out there in the middle of a field of cars. It’s not just you anymore, you now have a remarkably personal and reassuring crew member on the radio giving you a virtual pat on the back through good and bad. Lastly, Crew Chief calls out when an accident has occurred anywhere on track and you will be amazed at how many spills happen that you would never otherwise have seen.

Number 5: APOLOGISE WHEN YOU’RE AT FAULT. The fact you’re not steaming into the action because you’re concerned for other racers already makes you better than the reckless few out there, but with the best intentions in the world you will inevitably still trigger an accident in close quarters racing, but this is okay.

If you make an error which wrecks or damages an innocent third party, it’s not the end of the world, it’s an opportunity for you to show class and apologise to the affected person after the race via private message. If I am at fault in an accident I’ll always say something like ‘Hey, I’m really sorry about the contact in our last race, I’ve seen the replay and you did nothing wrong. if we race together again I hope we can have a better one. Regards, Dan.’ - if you do this, you will either get a courteous response, an angry response, or no response at all, but you will have done everything you would be expected to do as an honest citizen of the service - you need do nothing more than that.

The bottom line is that if things were the other way around and you had been taken out through no fault of your own, you would feel vindicated and respected if that person took the time to send you a similar message, making things better in the end. You will be on both sides of the table throughout your time in iRacing and by showing empathy to the other person you’re marking yourself in their minds as someone who is doing the best they can and shows respect, rather than just another racer that doesn’t care if they cause a crash. The next time they see your name, not only will they remember that you were respectful to them and showed consideration that they’re here to have fun just the same way you are, they’ll give you more respect in turn. If they don’t, they’ve got bigger problems.

Number 6: YOU’RE NOT THE ODD ONE OUT. When you do get on the grid, look around at other cars and just remember that half of them are feeling the exact same way that you are. They’ll be worried about messing up someone else’s race, hoping they don’t get left for dead by the rest of the field speeding away from them. The one thing they’ll be hoping for is to happen upon another racer of their skill level that’s considerate, careful and trying not to kill them. In effect, you. iRacing has done a good job of matchmaking but you can only be sorted by the system after a good few races, but when you regularly get matched with other people of your skill level you’re adding so much to their races just by being there and racing alongside them. You’re an asset to the grid, not a liability. In no time at all someone is going to walk away from their PC buzzing after a great clean race with somebody who was just like them, and that somebody was you.

Number 7: ANYONE THAT IS ABUSIVE TO YOU IS WRONG. On rare occasions you might encounter a particularly rude and condescending individual that shoves it in your face how wrong you are. Everyone has encountered somebody like this at least once and there are overwhelmingly more people who would stick up for you than add to the insults. Ignore them and remind yourself never to let yourself be abusive in this manner to another person.

Number 8: HELP IS AT HAND. Like any hobby or passion, it gets easier the more you do it. The most difficult and frustrating time of any iRacing members racing timeline is right at the beginning. Have faith that it’ll get cleaner, higher quality and more satisfying. But if you find yourself in tangles and collisions in every race and you’re not sure why, you can get coaching and help from the many professionals and racing coaches that use iRacing as a platform. There is a whole industry built around helping people who need it, and that should at least convince you that you’re not alone.

Lastly a couple things that might be helpful. You can start from the back of the grid in any race you enter by skipping qualifying if you’re not yet ready to start in the middle of the pack. I don’t really recommend starting from the Pit Lane as it will stop you from learning how to survive lap 1. You can bind a button on your steering wheel to automatically say a phrase in chat. For example, you could bind a button to say ‘I’m sorry! I’m learning! Will PM you” so that if you do get into a tangle you can instantly communicate to the other person that you intend to make amends after the race. I don’t want to suggest that you need to grovel after every incident, eventually you will be a hardened racer with a much more pragmatic attitude to accidents like most people end up doing, but initially these suggestions can help you put a flag on the landmine to deal with later.

If you’ve viewed this article and read this far I’m either describing you or someone you know. At the end of the day, any mistakes you make in iRacing will be forgotten about within minutes so you needn’t be worried about somehow being immortalised in iRacing infamy as the worst driver ever, it just won’t happen. Mistakes and accidents are common occurrences and the vast majority will understand this and support you if you stay humble.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you out in the wild soon.

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