Sim Racing: Why do we do it?

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Let’s be honest, if you are reading this article, the chances are that you are either already involved in sim racing or are looking to get started.

For those who are already turning virtual laps, you will already have a good idea about what you love most about our hobby.

But for those who are looking at starting out, you may be wondering, what is it about sim racing that keeps you coming back for more?

Well, let’s explore this question some more by diving into 5 key points.


For some, the main draw card of sim racing is the ability to scratch that competitive itch.

There are so many virtual arenas where you can go toe-to-toe with drivers from all over the world. Whether that be in organised events or leagues, public lobbies or even hot lap competitions.

If you have the desire to put your skills to the test or simply enjoy some good hard racing, there are so many avenues that you can explore.

Of course, there are the higher echelons of professional Esports competitions and the eye-watering prize funds which they offer. But for the vast majority of sim racers, there are some great races to be found in the organised world of iRacing, the ranked servers of RaceRoom Racing Experience or daily races on Assetto Corsa Competizione.

If, for you, the best thing about sim racing is the competition element, there are no shortage of options to suit every interest and skill level.

Relax and Unwind

On the flip side of that, some sim racers keep returning to their physical and digital drivers seat as a form of relaxing after a long, arduous day at work or school.

There is sometimes nothing better than to leave the cares of the world behind you and immerse yourself in a different world. A world where it is just you, your car and the road ahead. Nothing else matters.


Some will still find pushing a race car as hard as possible around a track, or a rally car through a stage flat out to be a relaxing and therapeutic experience. But for others, this relaxation takes a different shape in the form of cruising.

There are some sim racing titles that offer a much more laid back option to those who seek refuge from the rigors of daily life. For example, there is an increasing number of point to point, or real life road mods which have appeared for Assetto Corsa over the last few years. These allow you to take a favourite sports or supercar for a thrash down idyllic public roads without a care in the world. In fact you can even join others online and go for a therapeutic cruise with friends and strangers.

Live For Speed is another title that has a very active cruising scene. One that has been reinvigorated with the introduction of modded cars to the legendary title. The variety of cars and vehicles that you will find on various cruise servers really makes for an enjoyable online experience.


Speaking of the online experience, for some sim racers what keeps them coming back for more is the group of friends that they have come to know in the community, especially right here at RaceDepartment!

Sim racing is fun in general, but sim racing with friends is even better. The camaraderie, banter and enjoyment that can be found, particularly in the RD Racing Club, is a major part of sim racing for a lot of people and it is easy to see why.

You don’t even need to be on track to participate in the social element of sim racing, as many enjoy sharing their experiences or opinions on sim racing forums or groups. Some also love to discuss the hardware they use or seek advice on upgrades or optimisation, which brings us on to our next point.

Personalising Your Rig

Many who have been involved in sim racing for some time will know that you don’t just buy a sim racing setup and then keep it the same forever.

There is always something that you are looking to upgrade, change or add to your sim racing cockpit. Whether that is a new wheel, pedals or even a cup holder, there is always something else that you can find to make your sim rig even more personal to you. In fact, with the advancements in sim racing products of late, this constant search for upgrades is showing no sign of slowing down.

Now it’s worth pointing out at this point that simply throwing money at your sim rig will not necessarily make you a faster driver, but what it does do is provide a level of joy and satisfaction in putting something together that you are truly proud of.


Speaking of trying to become a faster driver, another of the main things that draws us back in is a constant search for improvement.

Regardless of whether we have been sim racing for 20 years or 20 minutes, there is always something new we can learn. Something that we can improve on.

Whether it be our braking technique such as trail braking or heel and toe, our standing starts, or even wet weather driving, we can always find some improvement somewhere.

It is that underpinning desire to become better which makes us say “just one more lap” over and over again for the next half an hour or more.

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These are just a few examples of what makes us keep firing up our computers and head out behind the wheel. But how about you? What is your sim racing addiction fuelled by? Let us know in the comments below.
About author
Phil Rose
A passionate sim racer with over 20 years of virtual and real world motorsport experience, I am the owner and lead content creator at Sim Racing Bible as well as a writer here at RaceDepartment. I love all forms of motorsport, especially historic motorsport, but when it comes to sim racing, I will drive anything!


Loved computer games since I was a kid, 40 odd years ago.
Never wanted to be a racing driver, don't sim race because i want to be a racing driver (dislike that idea that we are all some desperate wannabe racing drivers).

I love motorsport, I enjoy sims as its the most hands on form of gaming, certainly regards cars anyway.
Wheel pedals, pretty close as it'll get as in what your limbs are doing.

I just love gaming though. I am a gamer at core, and it is my hobby.
As an aside I have family that race cars at club level thus has to pay for it..
One once said to me that I am 'pretending to be a racing driver'.
I responded that 'well so are you'.

Most of us are pretending at something or other.
Never sure why gaming to some is such a problem.
It's image problem has been improved somewhat, but to many we are generalised unkindly, and i idea that sim racers in particular are all desperate to race cars...
No thanks.
For me it is pure joy sim racing, totally free to race on Spa in anything at any time, or 5 mins later racing Silverstone or wherever.

I'd take sim racing over some track day any day.
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Haven't got the time or money to do it in real life so this is the next best thing. I also love running the ACC club, the community aspect of it really enhances things. Yes you can go and race in a public lobby with 20 random people but there's nothing quite like racing against like minded guys and building up a rapport.
I personally think that Sim Racing is a great vehicle for learning automotive and motorsport history (no pun intended).

While car museums shouldn't be diminished in this regard, especially due to the fact that each car is physically there, the cars shown off are limited to static display pieces that can only be observed while stationary with a couple paragraphs' write-up on a plinth, with few places offering archival footage to provide clearer historical context and fewer still allowing for hands-on experiences, letting visitors to truly feel what it is like in the cabin; never mind on the road/track, and that's just for the cars.

As for the real tracks and roads, they are bound by the natural laws of time & space, as well as by the actions of those in charge of their operation and maintenance. So many historic circuits have been lost to time, and only a small minority of them still have recognizable landmarks and features that have persisted since their closure, let alone still have their original layout relatively complete. Even then, without prior knowledge or visual reference material, the relevance of these locations for racing fans may be lost.

Sim Racing can help fill in the gaps where present-day reality and traditional media fall short, as imperfect as it may be compared to driving or even seeing the real-deal up close. I probably never would have learned about Grand Prix Racing in the 1920's if it weren't for people like @Nicecuppatea or @Fourty-Too!, and groups like Zizh-Games and Trained-Monkey Modding let me find out about racing beyond the Iron Curtain during the cold-war era.
Never heard of them - but they does sound interesting :)

Why I simrace is to experience the olden days of motorsport. Primarily the late 60's and 70's touring cars my father had posters of in his room when he was young and that he tried to replicate in his own cars :D It rubbed off on my somewhat. Of course also the racing cars of my own childhood and youth.

It's not the actual experience of driving the real car, but my chances of ever running a real life Ford Escort RS 1600 or an MB 190 Evo2 DTM anywhere are quite slim, and simracing is the next best thing really. With the vast array of content across all the current and last gen sims there is hardly anything I can't drive. I like learning a car and its quirks, which are usually plentyful in older machinery, and trying to make it look elegant through a corner.

I don't actually need much competition, that's not why I'm in this at all. The odd AI race here and there yes, sometimes even an endurance event. The rest is the car and how it feels and sounds. Like an intro to a GP Laps video :D
For me the answer is pretty simple, i just love drive fast, unfortunately the real world dont allow me to do it in the tracks or roads i like, so driving sims are great for that. Cheaper than real life racing, safer if you push yourself too hard and with endless posibilities in your own home.

"Why do we do it?"

That's quite philosophical, and I don't have a great answer :p
"Because it is hard" /Some president from past/

I bought my first wheel because I wanted to play Dirt Rally and improve/train my reflexes of pressing pedals/steering, so I don't panic when car goes into trouble on road in real life. Turned out I spent most time in Assetto Corsa, but still helped me a lot. At the time I started simracing, I didn't have my own car yet.
Sim racing really helped in gaining confidence with car control, as last winter I drove past a nice empty parking lot with snow cover, decided to try some awd (VW 4Motion) donuts there. Not much of a surprise, but it went well, drove sideways circles around a BMW that was parked there to do the same. Driving was just as I had practiced in AMS1 on that frozen lake. There was no panic, everything felt natural as I had practiced in a video game before. So yeah, that's why I started sim racing, and also because I just love cars and driving.
In my case, is because along with a bunch of colleagues I have made friendship three years ago I would like to have all F1 seasons from 1950 to the latest current year with many, many different features (example with 1989) in one game that is extremely quick to mod with, and that works as a sim of its own, simulating the core basics of auto racing efficiently. The more the better, so many of my colleages are engineers, plus one guy with PhD. in Physics. Always humbly admitting the limits that a video game has to simulate, and that sim-racing is mainly entertainment.

All in all, the team I am with is aware that not only will we not perfectly recreate any single car, but we will probably fail in some elementary things. But it is because of that desire as an engineer with a hobby of sim-racing and the desire to recreate all the seasons of F1 in a sim-racing video game that keeps us going. And everything that is going to be released in the future will be free.

The game is F1 Challenge '99-'02.

Edit: my link is not a link to download an external mod. Is a link to a text file which contains credits.

I don't upload here F1C mods because of this.
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Great question. I've never thought about it. I think Virtua Racing was my gateway - not exactly a sim but from there I've never looked back. The first time I tried a force feedback wheel I was hooked. I think it's the immersion, also I just love cars, everything about them. Hopefully one of our modders (oh yeah - rFactor genius modders are partly to blame for my addiction!) can create a mod for the smell of tyres, petrol and overheated breaks :D
I started out with F1 2010 because I was interested in pretending like I could drive fast. Bought more equipment, more games, more computer hardware. Now I use it as a practical tool for driving in real life.
I don't race as much as I hone my skills so that when the "geezer police" come to put me in the senior citizens facility, I can give them a run for their money.
Poor mans track day - while some of us dont want to admit it :roflmao:
Have you ever been to a track day?
The barrier to entry isn't being a multi millionaire.

Do you not think its possible that some people simply like sim racing but don't care for ever driving on a real track?

I feel sorry for anyone who goes to sleep at night sad that they can't be a racing driver as the truth is all you need is money, you don't need talent or skill, just money.

If your dad has a lot of it you could be in F1.
If you had 800 plus subs on youtube you could be racing a Praga.

Must be horrible to want to be a racing driver. One of the most unfair sports to enter as its all down to having loads of cash right from karting upwards.
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I like to virtually drive the cars of my youth again, (Golf GTI MK2, BMW E34, Porsche 924S) those that I had and those that I dreamed of (BMW M3, Porsche 911, Audi Quattro Sport). Modern content does not touch me at all. Yery few racing games cater for my preferences, most of them are rally centered.
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Outside of truck simulator I don't know how people can find sim racing of any kind relaxing. I try to go for relaxing drives in AC on the big maps but I just end up speeding and drifting. And crashing obviously.

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Article information

Phil Rose
Article read time
4 min read
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What is the reason for your passion for sim racing?

  • Watching real motorsport

    Votes: 74 64.3%
  • Physics and mechanics

    Votes: 50 43.5%
  • Competition and adrenaline

    Votes: 49 42.6%
  • Practice for real racing

    Votes: 17 14.8%
  • Community and simracers

    Votes: 26 22.6%