How To Practice Sim Racing (Beginner’s Guide)

Simulated racing is one of the most fun and engaging activities that racing enthusiasts can take part in, but it can be frustrating as a beginner and it’s difficult to master. Before you begin trying to get better, you need to know what the best ways to practice sim racing are.

To practice sim racing, first make use of in-game tutorials to perfect the fundamentals. You can repeat time trials and watch replays of your race to spot mistakes and improve your lap times. Take note of when you brake and follow the sim’s driving line until you feel comfortable racing without it.

Now this may sound simple, but it is easier said than done. Practicing and improving in sim racing will take some time and effort. Below we discuss why practice is important, and some other useful information you should be aware of before you begin practicing sim racing.

Why Should You Practice Sim Racing?

You should practice sim racing because it will help you become a much better and more complete sim racer, and it could even help you learn the fundamentals of driving and operating a real car. Practice makes perfect, and this applies especially to sim racing. 

Sim racing can be an easy hobby to pick up due to the large number of assists available to you in most sim racing games, but in order to beat other racers and improve your lap times you’re going to have to say goodbye to those assists and put in the practice. 

Of course, what happens immediately, is you find yourself spinning out, over steering, under steering, and ultimately having an awful time. This is the first hurdle you need to cross. No matter how many times you mess up a corner or how many assists you have enabled, you will never become a better sim racing driver without consistent practice

Practicing sim racing will make you a far more competent sim racer in the short and long run. A lot of tournaments in sim racing games such as iRacing require that you have a certain level of skill. These races are some of the most intense and most enjoyable races you can enter, and it’s this level playing field with other experienced racers that make it so fun. 

Practicing and perfecting your skills in the car is the only way to get good enough to enter such races. It can be difficult to detach yourself from the assists or commit fully to practicing sim racing, but at the end of the day there is no reason for you to not try your best and practice – you’ll only benefit from it!

How To Practice Sim Racing

In-Game Tutorials

Training schools and tutorials found in most sim racing games are an extremely valuable tool to you as a beginner. It’s common for most new players to dismiss in-game tutorials as they have grown a bad reputation over the years as being tacked on, short, and uninteresting missions where you do what the sim asks with no further in-depth explanation.

But for the most part, the best sim racing games nowadays have put a lot more thought into their tutorials and training schools and they are incredibly useful tools. These tutorials are fantastic at teaching beginners the basics of driving lines, cornering, braking zones, and so on. 

Let’s say you want to practice cornering because you find yourself losing time in the turns or you have a habit of braking too soon, unsure of where your limits truly lie. Go into one of the tutorials specifically on cornering or braking and practice that single thing for as long as it takes to get it right

Stick with it and practice one fundamental at a time, as it’s easy to forget what you learned or become overwhelmed if you try to absorb too much information at once. These resources are often very in-depth and are one of the most valuable resources for a beginner sim racer

Time Trials

Time trials are a great way to measure your improvement with actual numbers, in the form of lap times. Time trials essentially allow you to race on a track of your choice in a vehicle of your choice and attempt to get the best lap time possible. You can apply the fundamentals of sim racing that you learned from the structured in-game training schools and try to improve upon your best lap time. 

If the sim allows it, you can watch replays of your race and observe where you think you could have saved time. If it looks like you could have applied your brakes later at a certain corner and kept your speed, then give it a go in another time trial to test your ability to improve with the data at hand. 

It’s important that you keep the variables, such as your choice of car and track, consistent so that your lap times and measurable improvement are as accurate as possible. Time trials in tandem with the skills you learn from the training schools are an excellent way to practice and measure your improvements. 

If you beat your ghost (a real-time replay of what your previous best lap was), then you know you’ve improved. It’s a quick and easy way to measure improvement without the need for figures or lap times. However, you’ll only have truly improved if you can consistently beat that previous best – make sure it wasn’t just a fluke!

Learn The Tracks Inside And Out

If you are slow the first time you race on a particular track, don’t be too disheartened, as this is to be expected if you have never raced on the track before. Not only will you feel uncomfortable racing on a track you don’t know, but you also aren’t likely to be going very fast. Learning the tracks from start to finish, back to front, inside, and out is imperative to your success as a sim racer.

Time trials, once again, are an excellent way to learn these tracks and get used to the speed you will take each corner. As you replay these tracks repeatedly, you’ll slowly start to get familiar with how your vehicle operates on the surface of the track and how hard you can push your car before you run into problems (i.e. going spinning off into the barriers). 

Once you get used to the track layout and how your car handles, don’t be afraid to change the weather or track conditions. In an online race it may be important to understand the differences of how your car operates in wet conditions as opposed to ideal dry and sunny conditions.

After some practice and learning the track’s complete layout, you will find your lap times gradually improving. As you gain more confidence in corners and start braking later, testing the limits of your car, you will see clear improvement in your times and your technique. Once your lap times stop falling, it’s a good idea to watch some videos of faster racers to see where you can improve.

Go Manual

While automatic shifting may be the most attractive option for beginner sim racers, you can shave a huge chunk off your lap times by simply learning how to drive manual (or sequential manual). Driving manual allows you to switch gears far faster than the game can do it automatically. This allows you to have far more control over your speed in every corner. 

Lose The Assists

While it may make your first race a challenging one, turning off your assists will stop you from learning bad habits from the get-go. Sim racing is all about having the most realistic racing experience that completely immerses you from start to finish. Unfortunately, assists usually take away from this realism, as many track cars don’t use assists in the real world.

When you’re a beginner, you should enable the option to have a driving line displayed, which recommends the best path to take on the track, as this makes learning the tracks much easier. Having this option enabled will help you when first learning the track. When you have the track memorized, turn off the driving lines and get back to practicing.


• Practicing sim racing is the only way you’ll become a better driver

• The best ways to practice are by using the in-game training schools and time trials

• Learning the tracks and how to race without assists is key if you want to go faster

Is Sim Racing Good Practice For Real Driving?

Sim racing is good practice for real driving, although it has its limits. Learning the fundamentals of driving and how the car operates is something that you can do easily in a sim racing game. The main difference between sim racing and real driving is the sense of weight and risk. 

In sim racing, you can drive at over 200 mph without feeling at risk. In the real world, however, driving at such speeds is not only completely illegal, but also incredibly dangerous. Sim racing is an excellent tool for learning what each pedal does and how to use a manual H-shifter, but it won’t prepare you for the feeling of going round a corner on the limits of your car’s traction.

Good For Learning The Basics

Poor driving in the real world can result in severe consequences, and if you crash in real life, there is no reset button. Sim racing does not prepare you for this reality but it’s an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of driving and how a vehicle reacts in certain situations. Sim racing is also good practice for learning how a vehicle handles in different weather conditions. 

You can try going through the various track and weather conditions to see how you need to adapt in order to drive the vehicle safely. While sim racing may not be perfect for practicing the reality of driving in the real world, there are some excellent driving games that are more focused on an accurate depiction of driving rather than racing

Great Sims For Practice

City Car Driving is an excellent game for practicing real world scenarios in a realistic driving environment. You can select a standard road car and from there you can practice things such as indicating, lane switching, and how to approach junctions and so on. If your goal is to practice for real world driving, you should opt for sim that offers a realistic driving experience.

With that said, if you want to use sim racing as practice for real life racing, then sim racing games are the perfect resource for you. Sim racing games, such as iRacing and Assetto Corsa, simulate a realistic racing experience in various motorsport disciplines. Races follow the official rules, the tracks are laser scanned, and the vehicles are authentic.

iRacing also features tournaments that you can join if your iRating is high enough. These races can give you a great idea of what real racing is like. Consequences are more severe here than in other sims. While sim racing will never capture the adrenaline rush you get from real racing, these races are some of the most intense experiences you can have without a real car underneath you.

Final Thoughts

When practicing sim racing you should focus on time trials and training schools within the sim, as they are two excellent, accessible resources, especially for beginners. Practice consistently on one fundamental at a time to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed while learning the basics.