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I recently started a subscription with iRacing, which for those who haven't heard of it is an online multiplayer racing simulation. You progress through the ranks from rookie to Pro levels based on your skill and safety levels. The people who make it up to Pro levels compete in live broadcast races and earn cash for top place finishes (1st place for the World Championship was $10,000. )
I was curious about the sim since I have been active in the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season community for about 8 years and love sim racing, especially of the oval variety, but iRacing is a paid subscription and content sim (you pay for your subscription and for cars and tracks as you progress) but I was able to find a free 3-month trial offer that got me in the door. I wasn't sure if I would want to end up staying with it and paying to keep going (with a 3 month at a time deal it's $10 a month) but I'm pretty much hooked at this point.
Racing with real people, while frustrating at the rookie level, is also much more exciting and rewarding than racing the AI. Knowing that I can't just pause and take a break or reset when I end up in a wreck makes it that much more realistic. You run into some pretty bad drivers early on but I have also made friends from all over the world who are good drivers and appreciate other good drivers. You get promoted based on your safety rating, which you build up through racings and time trials with clean racing. The only drawback is that you get penalized even if you aren't at fault for an incident, so the early races have been more about survival than actual racing for the win.
Here's a highlight video of one of my first wins in the rookie Street Stock series. It got pretty dicey near the end and I nearly got taken out by a guy who decided to cut me off and then lose his sh*t right in front of me.
Anyway, I recommend it if you're able to get a free trial (I found one through Cadillac. Signed up to receive some emails about their cars and got a promo code.) I recommend it. It seems really delving in to the higher ranks could get pricey but if a person spreads it out in moderation and maybe asks for gift cards as birthday presents or something like that it could be affordable.
"I'm a fan of good sci-fi. Star Trek. Battlestar. That Joss Whedon show." - Nathan Fillion, Castle