When I was operating iRacing Dirt leagues, I often received league applications from iRacing rookies. I would typically send a polite private message to the rookie applicants, stating that they needed to obtain a D license before they could join the league. I usually didn’t get a response, but once in a while I did. The response was invariably something along the lines of, “How do I get a D license?” That indicated to me that there is a void there. iRacing doesn’t make the license system and career progression very clear to rookies. It’s there if they look around enough, but most people just want to race. So I decided to attempt to fill that information void with this article, explaining iracing dirt career paths and how to progress through the license system.
iRacing Sling Mud for Fun Series
Before we move on to licenses and career paths, I need to clear up one misconception. iRacing has two series that they call the Sling Mud for Fun Series. These series allow anyone with an iRacing subscription to jump right into a 410 Sprint or a Dirt Super Late Model and drive their hearts out.
Sling Mud for Fun affords iRacers of all stripes and license levels the chance to tap their inner Shane Clanton, Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards or Scott Bloomquist on a rotating schedule of dirt tracks from week to week.
What you have to keep in mind about these series is that they award you no points of any kind. No championship points, no safety rating gains or losses, no iRating gains or losses, and they don’t count toward your Minimum Participation Requirements. As the name implies, they are only for fun.
On the surface it may seem that this would be a wreck fest, but most of the time it’s not really the case. One thing I have found is that iRacing Dirt and iRacing Short Asphalt racing are two completely different things. I have some theories as to why that is but I really don’t know for sure. I can say that I have run a few Dirt Super Late Model races in the Sling Mud for Fun Series, and I had a lot of fun. In some races there was some carnage for sure, but for the most part they were clean and I learned and gained experience in the car.
If you want to advance your iRacing license, you can’t do it in the Sling Mud for Fun Series.
iRacing Official Series
If you want to advance your iRacing license, you need to compete in at least one official iRacing series. For dirt rookies, that’s going to be the DIRTcar Street Stock Series. In order to obtain your D license, you will need to meet your Minimum Participation Requirement of at least four Official Time Trial Sessions or two Official Race Sessions. You will also need to achieve a minimum Safety Rating of 3.0. You begin your iRacing life with a Safety Rating of 1.50. How do you improve your Safety Rating?
- Don’t run into things, especially other cars.
- Don’t spin out.
- Don’t run off the race track, or off course.
- Avoid other cars that look like they are going to run into you.
- Look for trouble ahead and avoid it. You’re always better off to lift when you see it happening and hope you don’t get hit from behind.
This applies in any iRacing official session. That includes the very short practice/warmup session at the beginning of official races, the qualifying session, and the race. There is even a short period immediately after the checkered flag in which you can lose safety rating if you are involved in an incident. The best thing to do is to get in the habit of avoiding incidents in all sessions of any kind. It might be fun to go out during a practice session and run into everything you see, but it’s a bad habit and it won’t make you any friends. Most of the other drivers in practice sessions are trying to practice, so if you drive around like a maniac you are interfering with their practice. You can also be protested for “playing” in a practice session. If you want to do silly stuff, host a session and go crazy.
For more information on Safety Rating and license promotions (and demotions), you can go to the Help menu item on the iRacing member site and click Sporting Code. Scroll down to Section 3.
You should now have a basic understanding of iRacing licenses and license promotions. It’s all about Safety Rating. You can’t get promoted by winning races. It’s good to win, but you have to do so while avoiding as many incidents as possible to improve your Safety Rating.
iRacing Dirt Career Paths
I think you can break the iRacing Dirt (Oval) career paths into two categories:
- Full-bodied “Stock”/Modified Cars (Street Stocks, Late Models, UMP Modifieds)
- Sprint Cars (Winged and Non-Winged Open Wheel Sprint Cars, Midgets)
Ultimately, most drivers probably prefer one over the other. Personally I’m a Late Model guy. That doesn’t mean I’m good at driving them. I just like them. They are very challenging cars to drive.
So, as you move to your D license, you might want to decide where you want to end up. Maybe you want to end up driving in the WoO 410 Sprint Car Series. Others might want to end up driving the WoO Super Late Model Series. Those are the two top series on iRacing Dirt right now and it’s probably going to stay that way.
If your ultimate desire is to compete in the World of Outlaws 410 Sprint Car Series, you can choose to take an appropriate career path for that series. Here’s a typical scenario:
- Rookie Street Stock → Get your D license by focusing on Safety Rating. At Rookie 2.0 you are also eligible to compete in the iRacing Dirt Legends Cup Series.
- DIRTcar 305 Sprint Car Series (D license series) → Get your C license. In this series you can start to think a little bit more about running up front and winning races. You still need to keep it clean to get your license promotion.
- DIRTcar 360 Sprint Series or iRacing Dirt Midget Cup or USAC 360 Sprint Car Series (C license series) → Get your B license. DIRTcar is the Winged Sprint, USAC is the Unwinged Sprint. Midgets are little non winged sprint cars. Most people will find the Winged Sprint friendlier (easier), and there is much more participation in the DIRTcar Winged Sprint Series. The Winged 360 Sprint Car is also a lot of fun while still being a little bit of a challenge as you improve your skills. For me, the Midget is even more of a challenge and the participation is pretty good in that car.
- World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series or AMSOIL USAC Sprint Car National Championship (B license series) → Get your A license, although you don’t currently need it to race anything else on iRacing Dirt; however, there is talk of an iRacing Dirt Pro Series. If you’re interested in competing at the top level you will probably need an A license.
If your ultimate desire is to compete in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, you can choose to take a different path. Something like this:
- Rookie Street Stock → Get your D license by focusing on Safety Rating. At Rookie 2.0 you are also eligible to compete in the iRacing Dirt Legends Cup Series which is good experience in a car that is a little more challenging.
- DIRTcar Limited Late Model Series (D license series) → Get your C license. In this series you can start to think a little bit more about running up front and winning races. You still need to keep it clean to get your license promotion.
- DIRTcar Pro Late Model Series or DIRTcar Street Stock Series or DIRTcar UMP Modified Series (C license series) → Get your B license. As you can see, this opens up a lot of choices. This Street Stock Series currently uses fixed setups. I would advise against this series. The car is very easy to drive and is really designed for Rookies. Maybe run it for fun on the shorter tracks if they go back to open setups in the future. The other two are very good series that will challenge your abilities and help you learn more about driving at the next level.
- World of Outlaws Late Model Series → Get your A license. As above, you don’t really need an A license for iRacing Dirt — yet. For me, the Dirt Super Late Model is the ultimate ride. It’s very challenging.
Those are typical scenarios. There are a couple of different ways you can advance through the system. If you have the time and the skills you might want to compete in both types of cars.
If you want to pick up some extra Safety Rating, run Time Trials. You’re in the session by yourself so you can turn a lot of clean laps. One of the best ways is to find a Time Trial in a Winged Sprint Car at Eldora Speedway. The more clean corners you make, the more Safety Rating you earn, and you can make a lot of clean corners in a Winged Sprint Car at Eldora. Lanier National Speedway is a little more challenging, but you can get through a lot of corners there too because it’s small. Just keep it clean.
If you have any questions or would like some help or advice, OSR is here to help. Join our Discord. Good luck to all Rookies new to iRacing!