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iRacing setup: quick start guide for beginners

iracing setup - a quick start guide

iRacing is probably the best environment to finesse your racecraft online. If you’re serious about getting involved in some serious competition, that is! Yes, there are other sims: rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competitione for example, but for me iRacing is my spiritual home.

I’ve been a Mazda MX5 global cup racer for almost a year now (aswell as 5 years of track racing) and since the day I installed it and got it setup properly, (save a few minor setbacks in the learning process) I’ll never look back.

I’ve written this quick start setup guide for iRacing to help you get going.

Some assumptions

I’m assuming that you’re relatively new to sim racing, that you’re certainly relatively new to iRacing or that you’re trying iRacing for the first time having run a similar simulator like Asetto Corsa for a short while. I joined from Assetto from around late 2019, so with a bit of luck I should be able to help you with the majority of the procedures to get your rig setup nicely ready to do some laps in iRacing.

I’m also assuming that your sim rig is built and ready to go. Your Windows drivers are installed, your monitors are setup and working (or, your VR headset), and that pedals and wheelbase are ready to go.

In this guide I’ll take you through wheel and pedal calibration in the USB game controllers dialogue via Windows 10. I’ll also walk you through iRacing’s own setup (of course). By the end of this guide, with a bit of luck, you’ll be setup and ready to get fully involved in iRacing.

One final assumption is that you’ve installed iRacing! Don’t worry if you haven’t got round to that yet, here are some promo codes to get you started. iRacing installation via Steam is extremely simple.

Head to iRacing here to learn more or watch this simple video:

Your wheelbase setup

Before we delve into iRacing itself, let’s make sure that your wheelbase is correctly setup. This article focuses exclusively on the Fanatec DD2 wheelbase, much of the process however applies to the belt drive CSL Elite / Clubsport wheelbases too.

Let’s start with the tuning menu. I access this via the game controllers dialogue in Windows 10. If Fanatec’s installer didn’t save this on your desktop as “Fanatec Wheel Properties”, you can search in the Windows search bar for “USB Game Controllers”.

fanatec wheel properties

Open the properties page for the Fanatec wheel, by highlighting either of the “Fanatec Podium Wheel Base DD2” items and double click (or, click properties).

fanatec wheel properties dialogue

Firstly, we’ll head to the DD2 “Settings” tab to do some wheel and motor calibration. In the settings dialogue, we’ll start with a wheel center calibration. Move your steering wheel to be perfectly centered. I use the center stripe at 12 o’ clock on my steering wheel – lining it up by eye is always enough.

When you’re happy, click “Wheel Center Calibration”

Wheel center calibration on Fanatec DD2
Wheel center calibration on Fanatec DD2

One this procedure is complete, you’ll get a confirmation message on the wheelbase’s oled display screen.

Next, we’ll do the motor sensor calibration. For this, you need to remove your steering wheel. Exit from the wheel properties page (although Windows will do this automatically if you remove the wheel).

Once the wheel is removed and stowed safely, re-open the wheel properties dialogue and head back to settings. Click the “Motor Sensor Calibration” button:

Fanatec wheel properties page for a Motor Sensor calibration
Back in the wheel properties page for a Motor Sensor calibration

The base’s wheel axis will turn clockwise and counter clockwise before completing. Reattach the wheel when it’s done and return to the properties dialogue to check your tuning settings.

Once the wheel is calibrated, it’s time for tuning. My DD2 settings for iRacing are close to default in driver version 346, but not quite:

Fanatec DD2 iRacing setting Value
[SEN] Maximum Steering Angle 900°
[FF] Overall FFB Strength 100%
[SHO] Vibration Strength 100%
[ABS] Brake Pedal Vibration OFF
[FOR] Force Effect Strength 100%
[SPR] Spring Effect Strength 100%
[DPR] Damper Effect Strength 100%
[NDP] Natural Damper Strength 50
[NFR] Natural Friction 0
[FEI] Force Effect Intensity 100

If you’re running a later driver, please refer to this post.

Before we conclude your wheelbase setup, it’s worth taking a quick look at your shifter calibration. Once you select the option to calibrate your shifter, the text located to the right of the next button will guide you through the procedure:

shifter calibration for fanatec SQ
Shifter calibration for Fanatec SQ 1.5

Your Pedal Setup

I’m using the Heusinkveld Sprint pedals, which have been quite a gamechanger in terms of controllability in iRacing. They really need little setup work and are quite plug and play. If you’ve just installed them though, it makes sense to run the calibration in the Heusinkveld Smart Control app.

The app itself is a standalone executable (.exe), so just be sure to download either the 64 bit or 32 bit version. Most gaming machines are 64 bit.

Start with the pedal calibration:

The calibration process is extremely simple. Follow the instructions being sure to keep the pedals depressed until after clicking the next button:

throttle calibration in Heusinkveld smart control app
Throttle calibration in Heusinkveld smart control app. Keep the pedal depressed until you hit the “Next step” button!

Over in the settings menu, I tend to keep the pedal responses set to “linear”, with a small percentage of deadzone at the top and bottom of the range of each pedal. Do be sure not to set the deadzone too high or you’ll lose the opportunity to induce throttle off oversteer, and trail braking will be less easy!

heusinkveld smart control software

Now, we’re ready to tackle the iRacing settings!

Your iRacing setup

We’re almost finished and you’re almost ready to race. Now we’ll open iRacing and setup the graphics and controller properties. Firstly, make sure your installation is upto date. If it isn’t, there’ll be a message as you won’t be able to enter a race or go testing.

Click the update link, and you’ll see the items that are ready for an update from the iRacing server. Here’s the update menu as seen below in the beta UI:

Update iRacing in the new Beta UI

Next, let’s use the automatic graphics configuration option in iRacing settings to start a reasonable minimum graphics config. We’ll be adapting these settings, I just think it’s always wise to let the software have a go first.

Click “Launch” for Run Graphics Config” in the current iRacing UI

You should now be ready to open a session in iRacing, where we’ll tackle the final items on the list. Wheel and pedal setup, the shifter and the graphics settings. I recommend you setup a test session via the test car on track link, rather than immediately going into a race!

Test car on track first, we’ll use this as an environment to check all of the settings (image source)

Open “Options” via as soon as you enter the iRacing simulation. The option is visible in the top right hand corner of the iRacing window.

iRacing’s in-game options control panel

In here, you’ll see setup options for steering, brakes, force feedback and more.

Looking at force feedback first, make sure enable force feedback is checked. For the Fanatec DD2, you don’t need linier mode. Set strength to anything between 3.5 and 6 (this is a personal preference, you will have to try and see what strength level works for you). I have the wheelforce set to 24nm. As I have said before – a direct drive wheel can hurt you, so while you’re learning, you can start by setting these settings lower.

Steering we’ll cover in just a moment, and as the Heusinkveld pedals have a load cell (see our guide to pedals here), you don’t need Force Factor enabled.

Now, we’re going to do the input calibration procedure. Critically, you need to set 900° of rotation in the steering wheel setup procedure, so that when you’ve finished, you’ll see a 900° setting under steering in the window above. When you’re ready, click the steering button under input calibration.

I’ve recorded that process here:

Animated gif: configuring the steering setup in iracing
Animated: configuring the steering setup in iracing

Follow the procedure as instructed, setting the “lock to lock” range to 900°.

If you’ve got the steering configuration right, your inputs should precisely match the little graphic of a steering wheel when you return to the main options screen. It should read “900°” in the steering box.

Now, head to the “Graphics” tab and we’ll setup everything we need to make your racetrack look pretty:

For the most part, the automatic configuration sets resolution and so on. As I’ve discussed in my VR setup guide, you should go for performance over detail, but there are nice ways to reduce the load on your GPU while retaining an awful lot of detail at a high frame rate.

Try these settings as a basis for that principle:

  • Use SPS if you have a Nividia 1060 or higher GPU
  • Set performance to “max quality” (Custom)
  • Reduce detail on pit objects to medium
  • Event: high detail
  • Grandstands: off
  • Crowds: off
  • Objects: high detail
  • Particles: high detail
  • Reduce Max Cars to Draw 20 (12 cars)
  • Max pre-rendered frames: 3
  • Limit your frame rate: between 70 and 150 depending on your hardware
  • Enable only shadow maps on track

These settings might be a bit hungry for your setup. You’re looking for the frame rendering to feel smooth, not jerky in anyway. If it’s too much (I’m running a 2080 rtx ti) then I suggest reducing the max frame rate.

I’ve found a few machines struggle becasue they’re running background apps. For example, the ASUS Aura application makes outrageous demands on your PC. Uninstall it, forget your motherboard lights!

Once you’ve got your graphics settings working for you, you should be fully setup and ready to go in iRacing. Good luck and I hope to see you in a race soon.