Check out these secret special events in iRacing.
Image credit: iRacing.com

Hidden iRacing Special Events: Worst Kept Secret in Sim Racing

iRacing

The iRacing Special Event calendar is packed in 2024. However, for those looking for more action, several series provide the opportunity to run smaller, ‘hidden’ special events. Here is your all-encompassing list.

In the past two weeks, iRacing officially kicked off its 2024 Special Events calendar. The Roar Before The 24 and Daytona 24 Hours gave racing fans the fix they needed. As we pointed out in our deep dive into the 2024 calendar, this year is set to be packed with fun one-off races. But what if the current collection is not enough?

In fact, the Special Event formula is clearly a successful one, most recently attracting over 18,000 racers at a time. Infrequent runnings along with a meagre number of timeslots per edition means players flock to these unique races. Mix that format with longer competitions that replicate real-world battles and iRacing will always draw in the figures.

Throughout the year, iRacing hosts a number of series that greatly resemble the Special Event format. If you are hungry for Special Event action in 2024, these weekend-run series are sure to satisfy your appetite.

Le Mans 24 Special Event Hidden in iRacing

There is no doubt. The most infamous and popular endurance event in the world is surely the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In real life, it attracts fans from around the world for its unique circuit, rich history and amazing acction.

Well, in sim racing, it also holds a special place. For many years, iRacing held its own running of the race in Special Event form. However, when Le Mans Virtual ran its first edition in 2020 for professional racers, a conflict of interest lost iRacing the rights to race.

As a result, the online service found a quirky solution to hosting a round-the-clock event at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Rather than creating a Special Event dubbed the 24 Hours of Le Mans, iRacing now sets up a 24 Hour series in Season 3 of each year as part of the so-called Global Endurance Series is a round at Le Mans, traditionally in mid-August. Whilst not coinciding with the real race’s Summer Solstice date, iRacers can still run a competitive LM24 without joining one of the top Esports teams.

In addition to the Le Mans round, five more races take place as part of this unique series. These additional competitions certainly do not attract quite the glamour and numbers as the headlining act. However, for those looking to join a 24-hour race on a random weekend, it makes for a great opportunity.

As one would expect, the series runs the same classes as the FIA World Endurance Championship; Hypercar (or LMDh), LMP2 and GTE. However, with 2024 seeing change to the real-world structure, a 2024 running may well mimic the current IMSA car list. That being said, the event is unconfirmed for this year. We will make sure to let you know as soon as dates emerge.

Nürburgring Endurance Championship

As part of the official 2024 iRacing Special Events calendar is the Nürburgring 24 Hours. A popular and demanding GT enduro, many will attempt to run this unique race. But being such an unparalleled event, practice is hard to come by.

However, much like the real race with its NLS championship, iRacing sets up an annual Nürburgring Endurance Championship. In a rare twist, this series does not adhere to the standard seasonal organisation. Instead, it runs nine rounds from April to October giving opportunities to train for the big one in May.

GT3 cars racing on iRacing at the Nurburgring.
GT3 cars racing on iRacing at the Nurburgring. Image credit: Apex Racing Team on X

Furthermore, for those that do not enjoy the stress of 24 Hours around the Nordschleife, this series is a good chance to enjoy the thrill of the race without the lengthy time commitment. In fact, the standard race length is four hours, with some edging closer to six.

Much like the 24, the car list includes GT3 and GT4 machinery alongside the Porsche Cup and Toyota GR86 single-make classes. The front-wheel drive TCR cars complete the line up. In a further diversion from tradition, this championship is open to all drivers bar rookies. Standard iRacing Special Events require a C-Class licence at minimum. But a D-Class rank will suffice here.

Michelin Pilot Challenge

iRacing does have another series that strongly replicates a real life championship in Special Event form. The Michelin Pilot Challenge is the perfect support series to the IMSA Sportscar Championship, running GT4 and TCR classes. It trains younger drivers to race in multiclass scenarios during full stints, in large grids.

In iRacing, the Pilot Challenge is in fact a bi-weekly main event. Rather than sitting in the spotlight of the IMSA series with its GTP and GT3 cars, it is one of the best hidden Special Events to be found on iRacing.

Two hour races, with just four weekend timeslots available, running for just six rounds per season. It offers an excellent sense of occasion without burning away a large portion of your free time. This is the series that inspired a long column on the potential of reducing the number of active iRacing timeslots. Whilst reducing every current series to this format would be an extreme measure, introducing more series following the style would be a great addition. Either way, the Michelin Pilot Challenge is surely one of the most entertaining series on iRacing.

Special Events Using iRacing Series

Some of the most popular weekly series in iRacing are the VRS GT and IMSA series. Both sportscar series running on a bi-hourly basis, they frequently attract in excess of 100 racers per timeslot. For pure GT battles, jumping into the 40-minute GT Series is brilliant fun. But if multiclass racing is your taste, the IMSA Series has what you need.

Each week, these series have their own spin-off in endurance form. With just a few runnings per weekend, the most die-hard fans congregate on these more challenging events. Using the same layout as the week’s standard series, the sense of occasion may be dampened. But with larger grids and longer races, they still feel special.

Race GT3 cars in the VRS GT Endurance Special Event
Race GT3 cars in the VRS GT Endurance Special Event. Image credit: iRacing.com

For the multiclass IMSA series, the endurance version splits into two separate series. One week will host the 2-hour 40-minute IMSA Endurance Series whilst the other sees the 6-hour Global Endurance Series run. Much like the 45-minute open setup regular events, these include the GTP, LMP2 and GTD classes.

As for the GT-focused enduros, a full 12-week season sees the full GT3 class go flat-out for three hours, akin to a standard GT World Challenge Endurance Cup event.

Shorter and easy to practice for, these races are excellent for those bored weekends. Once more, the shorter IMSA enduros and VRS GT Endurance Series do not require a team to compete. If you are up for a three-hour stint, feel free to jump on and compete solo.

Full-Length NASCAR iRacing Season

Did you really think we would miss out NASCAR? For those that can master its quirks, oval racing can provide some excellent fun. However, the standard iRacing series do not provide the race length to truly dive into strategic options.

If you want a true NASCAR experience, those with a C-Class licence can compete in full-length NASCAR Cup Series races. Broken into two separate championships, iRacing organises a year-long NASCAR season. The regular season puts players in the current Cup cars for full-length events, mixing strategy running from February to November. A total of 36 weeks of racing follows the real-life schedule, perfectly immersing fans of the sport.

When away from the real-world season, iRacing puts its 1987 cars on-track for equally long races in its Winter Season. A different challenge, it too attracts good numbers, considering the lack of excitement for the class in its usual series.

Both halves of this massive season features four timeslots a week, with two available across the weekend. As one would expect, these slots do cater to the American audience. However, competing from other corners of the map is not impossible. If you want to give true NASCAR racing a try, this is the series for you. And who knows, perhaps the reintroduction of Indycar content will create a similar series for the open wheel championship.

In which hidden iRacing Special Events do you enjoy competing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!