iRacing vs Real-Life Racing: What’s Better?

iRacing vs real life racing
Author Alessio Lorandi
Alessio Lorandi
March 15, 2022

Have you ever wondered how iRacing stacked up against real-life racing?

After all, they’re both driving around a track at high speeds, right?

Well, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the two and see the main differences and what comes up being better in 2022 and beyond.

Spoiler alert: despite both having their pros and cons, I believe iRacing is the future and that real racing is doomed to shrink, if not disappear within 15 years due to its crazy high costs, almost zero drivers’ prizes, reduction in existing PRO drivers salaries and future lack of interest in the sport.

Having said that, these are the main aspects we’re going to cover and compare them against:

  • Costs
  • Practice time
  • Prizes & salaries
  • Future projections

 What’s the difference between iRacing and real-life racing?

The main difference is that while real racing costs a ton of money to practice and race with the best equipment, on iRacing is just a matter of getting a good sim cockpit and using PRO setups to be able to compete evenly.

 What's the difference between iRacing and real-life racing?

It’s a totally different world where anyone with a mid-range PC and steering wheel can start practicing and racing online and have a shot at winning online races.

That’s what makes iRacing so special and perhaps the future of motorsport: its low barriers to entry.

Now, let’s move on with the comparison and see how they match up in each category.

How much does it cost to get into real-life racing?

The first thing we need to compare is the cost difference. And as you might expect, real-life racing is way more expensive than iRacing. Depending on which series to take part in, you might end up paying between $100,000 to $1,200,000 per year.

Of course racing in GT3 is expensive, but it’s nothing compared to the costs involved in a Formula 3 or Formula 2 season budget.

How much does it cost to get into iRacing? 

How much does it cost to get into iRacing? 

In iRacing you can be up and running with a high-end $3,000 simulator including a steering wheel, a racing seat, a set of pedals, an yearly iRacing subscription and a PRO gaming PC.

As you can see there’s quite a big difference also considering the fact with iRacing it’s pretty much all a one-time expense as the simulator should last you for over 5 years.

How much can you practice real-life racing?

Training is basically limited to the amount of financial resources you can afford to spend on the track. That of course sucks as if you wanted to get better is a specific car or track you would have to pay quite a lot each time.

How much can you practice iRacing?

Pretty much as long as you want. Every additional hour or day spent training won’t cost you an extra single cent apart from your personal time involved.

How much can you practice iRacing?

That’s so amazing compared to real racing where the training is so expensive that many young drivers don’t get a chance to properly develop their skills and are therefore forced to quit.

That’s a real deal by the way as talented kids may now be able to prove their worth thanks to their equal opportunities.

What prizes can you win in real-life racing series?

Excluding Formula 1, NASCAR and Indycar, race prizes are pretty much inexistent.

Take Karting for example, I’ve raced professionally for over ten years winning any possible series including an FIA World Championship in 2013, though I’ve never earned a penny out of it. Just a bunch of shiny trophies.

That’s pretty much the same in any series apart from some rare exceptions like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Spa.

What prizes can you win in real-life racing series?

What prizes can you win in iRacing?

On iRacing there are multiple international series that have growing prize pools. Take the eNascar Coca-Cola series for example, where the total prize pool was $300,000 and the 1st place took a $100,000 cut.

As you can see big brands are getting more and more interested in sponsoring these kinds of events and therefore the prize pools are growing every year.

I’m sure that if you’re able to get among the top 1% of sim racers out there, you’ll be able to earn a good living between all the sim racing series taking place online every week or so.

What’s the future of iRacing?

I’m pretty sure that prize pools will keep on growing together with the popularity of the game. More and more sim racers will be able to crown their dreams of becoming full time pro drivers by joing online races from the comfort of their bedroom.

What's the future of iRacing?

Is iRacing better than real-life racing?

Though it will be tough to replace the adrenaline derived from racing in real life, I feel that iRacing is on its way to replacing real-life racing within 2035 thanks to its low barriers to entry.

We’re living in a new era where the barriers to entry are incredibly low when it comes to motorsport.

Anyone with enough talent and some practice can hope to earn a good living by becoming a professional sim racer.

Of course, there will always be a big difference between the best sim racers in the world and all the rest, but that’s the same as in real life.

The good news is that if you’re willing to put in the hard work, the potential rewards are now much bigger than ever before.


So, as you can see, there are many reasons why iRacing is a great choice for anyone passionate about motorsport.

The barriers to entry are low, the training is affordable and the potential rewards are big.

I’m sure that within the next few years we’ll see more and more real-life racing drivers making the switch to sim racing in order to make a living out of their passion.

Hope the article was helpful, happy sim racing! 🙂

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About the autor

Alessio Lorandi

Alessio has been involved at the highest levels in racing since the age of 5 (2003). He won a CIK-FIA World Championship in 2013 and then raced in F3, F2, and finally GT3s before now dedicating himself to SOLOX. He’s now on a mission to help thousands of sim racers around the world achieve their fullest potential through his ACC setups.






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