With the IndyCar season getting underway this weekend, here are some games where if you fancied trying to replicate the Indianapolis 500, you can get a taster of racing America’s leading single seater series.
Image credit: iRacing.com / Studio 397 / Turn 10 Studios / Slightly Mad Studios
IndyCar’s first race of the 2022 season is this weekend around the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The series is perhaps the most renowned single seater series worldwide outside of Formula One, and you can see many former F1 alumni competing like , Takuma Sato, Marcus Ericsson, Alexander Rossi and even drivers who raced in F1 feeder series like Christian Lundgaard, Callum Ilott and Felix Rosenqvist.
So if you wanted to race the same cars as these drivers, what are your options? There’s a brand new dedicated IndyCar game developed by Motorsport Games which is slated to release next year, but until then we have to make do with a few of the following.
The American racing simulation game has featured plenty of IndyCar themed content and is probably the go-to game when it comes to oval racing, both with IndyCar and also NASCAR. Along with the cars, you also have access to a bunch of the tracks like Nashville, Texas Motor Speedway, Long Beach, Laguna Seca and obviously Indianapolis.
As far as actual IndyCar vehicles you can drive, there are three. First is the Dallara IR-05 which was used between 2005 and 2011, then its successor named the DW12 (named in honour of Dan Wheldon who helped develop the car and lost his life in the last race of the IR-05) with its 2012-2014 aero configuration.
The most recent IndyCar also appears in iRacing, the IR-18 which is effectively a DW12 but with a much more streamlined aerokit that was introduced in 2018. The car also features the universal aeroscreen which was implemented for the start of 2020.
Not only that, but players can also drive cars from IndyCar feeder series. There’s USF2000 which is the starting place on the Road to Indy program, and then the next step is Indy Pro 2000 that was formerly known as Pro Mazda until the end of 2018 (both series are represented in iRacing). Unfortunately there’s no Indy Lights cars which is the final step on the ladder before IndyCar, but you can still get the closest to the full Indy experience as possible with iRacing.
From one far end of the racing game spectrum to the other, the Forza Motorsport games also feature IndyCar. With that being said, you won’t get rolling starts which in Forza Motorsport 7 is the norm but not in IndyCar. Aside from that, there are cars and tracks to satisfy the true Indy fan.
Players can buy the Dallara DW12 from both the engine manufacturers (Honda and Chevrolet) and the bodykit can be swapped out to reflect that of the 2018 aero overhaul. You can choose from a selection of liveries from the series itself such as the liveries typically utilised by Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal.
You can also drive a historical IndyCar, specifically the car that Mario Andretti drove to victory lane in the 1969 Indianapolis 500. Also if you fancy, there is a Corvette ZR1 pace car that left a General Motors executive a bit red in the face when they set off on the formation lap for race two of the 2018 Detroit Grand Prix and they crashed it.
In the first Project CARS game, you could select the DW12 with the 2012-14 aerokit, although not with the official season liveries and only in its road course setup. For Project CARS 2, you can drive every car from the 2016 season both in its oval and road course configurations.
With that being said though, if you tried to do a race against the AI with both Honda and Chevy powered DW12 cars, some AI will pick the wrong aerokit. So if you loaded up a race on the Indianapolis oval, some AI will race the road course kit and be painfully slow and if you raced on Circuit of the Americas, then the opponents with the oval kit will probably be spinning constantly.
For Project CARS 3, the liveries reflect that of the 2019 season with the exception of the livery of Robert Wickens, the Canadian racer who had a major collision at the 2018 Pocono 500 which has confined him to a wheelchair ever since. A great gesture by Project CARS developers Slightly Mad Studios.
With the new IndyCar game being developed by Motorsport Games, what might be the closest experience to it? Well, the answer will most likely be rFactor 2, on account of the fact that the developers Studio 397 are owned by Motorsport Games and will most likely be lending their know-how into developing the standalone title.
So what does the current title have to show on an IndyCar side? As of now, not much. Concerning tracks, the only ones officially in the game are Indianapolis in both oval and road course layouts, NOLA Motorsports Park and Portland International Raceway, and then you can race the 2014 DW12 and the new IR-18 which was only added in quite recently. There’s also the USF2000 cars from 2016 and 2017.
So it would appear that rFactor 2 doesn’t yet have a lot of content to satisfy the IndyCar fans but it’s probably safe to say that from now until the release of the IndyCar standalone game, Studio 397 will be adding in a lot more IndyCar-related content. More tracks are an absolute must, and it’s still early days since IndyCar and Motorsport Games only entered into a partnership in mid-2021. There’s plenty of time to add more content.
Previous standalone titles
Before there was iRacing, Forza, Project CARS or rFactor 2, you had a whole bunch of IndyCar dedicated games. One of the most prominent examples being IndyCar Series 2005, which was released in 2004 and rather confusingly featured content from the 2003 season. That being tracks, teams and drivers.
The game was released on PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and whilst it’s probably not the sort of game that features the best level of driving the cars, it’s certainly the one on this list where you can capture the experience of an IndyCar racing season.
The upcoming IndyCar title should hopefully follow IndyCar Series 2005. It will hopefully capture the essence of what being an IndyCar driver is but coupled with the advancements made in modern technology to make for better graphics and handling.
What are you hoping to see in the upcoming standalone IndyCar game? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!