Rookie Advice: Don't Be Afraid of Online Racing

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Going out of your comfort zone can be difficult, as the name implies. For sim racers who just started out, this applies to multiplayer races in many cases - they are frequently concerned about not being able to keep up or ruin everyone else's race. Still, it would pay off for them to jump in - as there is hardly a better way to learn how to race other drivers.

While multiplayer racing may not be for everyone, you will not find out if it is if you do not try it. The right opponents can help improve your experience immensely, which is why finding a league is often recommended. Cutting your teeth in regular online races may initially not be the most pleasant experience, but it is invaluable for improving your race craft.

This even applies to potential crash fests, as predicting pile-ups will become easier once you have seen a few of them. As soon as you know a track an can safely lap it in a car of your choice, getting into an online race is possible even without too muche experience. A few races against AI might also help to get used to racing with other cars around you.

Sooner than Later​

Of course, real opponents will behave differently, and if you intend to race online eventually, you need to hop into multiplayer sessions at some point - and it is a good idea to do this sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you might develop habits that are going to be detrimental to racing against actual humans instead of AI. Some sims like iRacing or RaceRoom offer a license system to make the experience a bit more accessible to newcomers, as random open lobbies can be hit or miss.

Defending, finding the right gap to attempt an overtake or simply learning how to correctly follow a car into a braking zone (hint: brake earlier than usual to avoid running into the back of someone!) are things that are best learned against other drivers. Ideally, they are even happy to help you with any questions and give useful hints to improve your driving.

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Rookie Race Week on RaceDepartment​

If you are hesitant to jump in, we have a great solution for you that offers just that: Starting Monday, May 22nd, the RaceDepartment Racing Club is hosting multiple events for Rookie Race Week, as was recently announced. Whether you prefer Assetto Corsa, Automobilista 2 or rFactor 2, there are events in all three of these sims.

Best of all: The events are completely free to enter! Head on over to the forums, find a race that interests you, and sign up in the respective thread - you can look forward to a great community and respectful racing for rookies in cars like Formula Inter, Formula 3 and 4 or Mazda MX5 - all suitable for beginners.

Racing This Week​

Monday 22nd May
rF2 - Rookies' Race F4 @ Tsukuba
ACC - British GT Series - Round 4 @ Oulton Park

Tuesday 23rd May
AC - Rookies' Race, Mazda MX5@Bikernieki
AMS2 - Rookies' Race, Formula Inter @ Guapore

Wednesday 24th May
AC - Multiclass Abarth500/Mazda MX5 @ Road America

Thursday 25th May
AC - Formula Agile, Rnd 7 @ Pau
rF2 - Ferrari 512S @Watkins Glen
AMS2 - Rookies' Race, F3 @ Nurburgring Sprint

Friday 26th May
rF2 - Rookies' Race RF2 Club
AMS2 - Rookies' Race, MINI Challenge @ Jerez

Sunday 28th May
AC - Rookies' Race, GT4 @ Bikernieki

May Ongoing Series
AC - Formula Agile Series
ACC - British GT Series

Your Thoughts​

Do you still remember your first online races and how you got on? Let us know your stories in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D


My only online racing experience dates back more than 20 years ago, playing F1 Racing Championship with a friend over the internet. the race was ruined by lag (what do you expect from China?) since then I never raced online.
I've been riding online for a long time, but as it happens quite rarely, I consider myself a rookie. The main thing when starting from last place is to avoid a crash, which is bound to happen in the first turn. :) If you could do that, you've got a place in the middle of the table at the finish :) Second rule, don't get in the way of the fastest drivers. :) It's not always possible, and often not through my fault - the one who's overtaking you for a lap often thinks you're a stupid ass, not looking in the mirrors, and try to overtake me from the side as I clear the lane. . That's why it's better to ride with friends.
With the bots I ride mostly in arcades (FH, Grid Legends), as online in these games there's a big percentage of assassins trying to drive me off the track for no reason at all. :) Interestingly, in Wreckfest there are far fewer such riders (paradox?)
First online race - NR2003. Start in the middle. The opponent bypasses on the right, the second opponent on the left... I close my eyes and throw the wheel... :)
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I have considered doing online racing for a while. I race AI in all my games and set up my own "season" of racing. I know if I do it, it won't be Iracing because any car I buy, I should be able to at least drive it to get groceries.
racing online is the only real way to simrace, AI simply aren't anywhere near believable apart from the F1 games, plus racing bots is in no way satisfying when compared to humans, maybe only when do a co-op style thing
racing online is the only real way to simrace, AI simply aren't anywhere near believable apart from the F1 games, plus racing bots is in no way satisfying when compared to humans, maybe only when do a co-op style thing
So are you saying that the erratic behavior of AI in most games doesn't properly simulate the erratic behavior of humans racing on line? :whistling:
I did my first online race few months ago in MX5 Cup in AC, I finished 15th out of 18, but still I had fun, I have to try this some day again, and Im more a "hotlap guy" than racer, I just dont know which platform is the best for this kind of stuff, any advices which one is the best to look up for races?
Starting to race online is not about winning or the position at all. It's about racing against real human beings that react unpredictably but also like yourself.
The AI in all sims is either stupid, too aggressive or too evasive. If you are side by side and you're trying to squeeze each other a little bit, you have this nice back and forth against a real human.
With AI, they either give in way too easily or they just drive into you.

You can definitely have fun against the AI, but if you have a few years of clubracing experience, you instantly have this "robotic" feeling when driving against the AI.

And don't be afraid of online racing! There are many nice clubs, like our RD clubracing section where the pace really doesn't matter at all.
If you're 10s off the pace, who cares. Just take it like a track day experience!
The only skills you should have is to drive safely while looking on the map, mirrors and radar.

With the bots I ride mostly in arcades (FH, Grid Legends), as online in these games there's a big percentage of assassins trying to drive me off the track for no reason at all. :) Interestingly, in Wreckfest there are far fewer such riders (paradox?)
I guess once you have an extra space to crash as much as you want, you simply don't have the desire to also crash in "normal" races.
But Wreckfest also has simply awesome physics for some drifty mixed surface racing. The cars basically drive like when you're having some fun on a snowy parking lot :D
Just 3x the speed...
And great collision physics! Not like in AC where a little touch at the rear will spin 5 cars into the barriers...

I don't know any other sim where you can have this kind of racing with throttle control, drifting while scratching each other's paint and simply feeling like you and a few buddies would take some old, tuned cars and making your "nearby" field/forest-roads/village your race track!
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If the server is populated by players with no notion of race conduct and the skills to follow it:

1) You are learning wrong and wrong learning is not learning

2) You are not having a simulation-level experience and would be better to just jump into an arcade or casual game and do it all unrealistically in a game designed to that

3) You are not having any fun (unless you are a troll) because your experience is just being frustrating

4) If you are new in race sim, you will just get the very wrong idea about what it's all about and will be one more of that people that think that the genre is boring and uninteresting... or will be forged to be a troll

RESUME: If you are going to an online server, first thing is to prepare yourself to be a good sportsman and, second, choose a game/server where other folks behave in that same way... or just stick with offline racing, some lone practicing and spent a time training your brain about racing conduct. This will work
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The issue for me when I started was that in the low stakes environment (AC public servers) you tend to get deathwishes and expertly crafted Italian curse sentences for stuff like "ruining someone Q lap" or "causing crashes by losing the car". Yet this is the best place to learn the basics so you have to ignore it dont take it seriously, peoples Q lap time in public server race is really not important :)

I never played iracing so cant comment on that.

Best advice i would give rookies is not to do stupid rejoins. Just hold the breaks and wait a bit till the track is clear ir just quit the race.
Today there was a virtual competition organized by Max Verstappen in favor of the Emilia Romagna populations affected by the scourge of water and you don't mention it at all.
Rookie advice: don't bump into other cars or stay offline! If you cannot pass the don't try to do the impossible!

But yes you need to play online to enjoy sim racing, without online it's pretty damn boring (except rally).
I did a couple of racedepartment races a couple of years ago and really enjoyed them. I was surprised how they gave that same sense of nerves and apprehension like real racing does. Not such a fan of AMS2 though as most cars just didn't feel right to me. I assume ACC races would be a lot better as the driving and cars in the offline private testing I have done feel very good, but it does seem ACC requires quite a lot of setup knowledge. I wouldn't discount it though, I just haven't taken the plunge online.
The cost of iRacing has kept me away up to now, but registered an account a few days ago. Very impressed so far. I like the license system and organisation of racing online there, but also, I am closer to the fast guys there than in other sims. No idea why. Yes I'm in 'rookie' races but in those races there are also plenty of experienced non-rookies. Maybe the 'fixed' setup is a leveller?
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I started online racing with Codemasters' RACE DRIVER 02 then changed to Live for Speed and then to RACE where I met the chap who runs this site. Ever since my first online race, offline has seemed sort of dull. I still use it for practice or to run a storyline as in the F1 games. But 98% of my gaming is online. Yes, real humans make mistakes and it can sure drive you crazy, but if you are in a safe environment, i.e. a racing club/leagues like here on RD or a league in iRacing or 90% of the "official" races on iRacing beyond Rookie level, the human factor beats it all. Small wonder I have stayed with iRacing and RD for over a dozen years, humans want to interact with humans, easy as that.
"Maybe the 'fixed' setup is a leveller?" you bet. I only ever do the fixed setup races all the way up to A-level, but mainly because I don't have either time or energy to worry about setups. And: always look for the most populated series, that way you will get put together more often with people your level by the rating system.

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