By Ross McGregor, Justin Melillo and Thomas Harrison-Lord
If you’re friends, family and colleagues are into sim racing, or racing video games, it can be tricky to pick an appropriate gift.
Fret not, however, as here is a range of stocking fillers or birthday ideas that won’t break the bank or be compatible with their current set-up.
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ONLINE GAME STORE VOUCHERS
Picking out the right simulation platform or racing video game can be tricky.
That’s why digital retailers such as Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, Epic Games Store, GOG and Origin sell gift cars. At the very least a gift card allows the giftee to buy something they want, or save up for a game they’re looking forward to in future – ideal if you find the world of sim racing a little confusing.
You’ll notice in supermarkets there are a plethora of gift cards available near the checkouts, but they’re also available in some newsagents, or you can simply order online.
The popular subscription-only PC driving simulator gift cards in $15, $50 and $110 increments. All allow you to purchase online or hosted AI sessions, cars, tracks or you can even put it towards extending or starting your iRacing membership.
Essentially, the gift card credits the iRacing account with cash, which the gift receiver can use to buy what they want afterwards. Just make sure they definitely drive on iRacing first…
GAME SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE VOUCHERS
PLAYSTATION PLUS MEMBERSHIP
If you or the person you’re gifting this year does have a PS4 or PS5 console, then one of the main components to playing online is the PlayStation Plus membership, which is required to race against others.
While this is available digitally, there exists physical gift cards or vouchers that can be picked up at brick-and-mortar retailers. They can also stack on already active subscriptions – it’s welcome to pretty much every existing PlayStation owner.
There are now additional tiers to Plus, with Premium adding access to a library of driving and riding titles, which vouchers can be used for. Simulators such as Assetto Corsa Competizione, Wreckfest and TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 are part of the service.
PlayStation Plus Premium (one-year membership)
PlayStation Plus Extra (one-year membership)
PlayStation Plus Essential (one-year membership)
XBOX GAME PASS FOR PC and CONSOLE
Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service for both Xbox consoles and PCs. Vouchers for a set number of months are available, after which the receiver can opt in or out of continuing the monthly payments.
It allows access to a library of racing games – although light on simulators – such as Forza Horizon 5 and Wreckfest.
XBOX Game Pass for PC and Console
- £7.99/$9.99 per month
Yes, sim racing socks are a thing. For higher-end hydraulic or load cell brake pedals it might be an idea to wear karting boots or similar to cope with the near-realistic forces. But for the hardy bunch that prefer maximum left foot feel a pair of sim racing socks could be the solution. They also tend to be fairly cheap, so perfect as a stocking filler.
SPARCO HYPERSPEED GAMING SOCKS
These Sparco Hyperspeed Gaming Socks feature a reinforced heel and grippy sections where you need them most. Speaking as someone who’s ruined several pairs of socks on load cell pedals in the past, it’s an attractive prospect.
Sparco Hyperspeed Gaming Socks, Demon Tweeks – £32.63
HEEL TREAD SOCKS
Alternatively, if you or the sim racer in your life is a huge motorsport fan, then how about some motorsport-themed socks they can wear while simming? Who wouldn’t want to drift an Audi Quattro S2 in DiRT Rally 2.0 while wearing a pair of Heel Tread Quattro socks? Having bought some myself, I can confirm the material is thick and very high quality.
SIM RACING BOOTS
If the socks above aren’t quite cutting it, then there are a few options available in terms of sim racing shoes. Some people use karting boots, while others use bespoke sim racing shoes. Obviously, there’s nothing stopping you from using your finest pair of Adidas Sambas, but I’m unsure of their capabilities in dealing with fast heel and toe downshifts…
SPARCO S-POLE SHOES
These Sparco S-Pole Shoes are based on karting boots and are available in a number of colours. They’d work well as driving shoes too!
Sparco S-Pole Shoes, Demon Tweeks – £29.23/$35.37
ABRUZZI SIM RACING BOOTS
Abruzzi offers personalised sim racing boots as well as a wide range of specialised sim racing apparel and equipment, including gloves, wheels and wheelbases.
Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots
Asetek SimSports is a relatively new playing in sim racing. Having launched its highly regarded range of pedals, with wheel bases and steering wheels on the way, it has the boots to match too.
A rubber sole, padded tongue and breathable materials help make these ideal for use on any metal pedal faceplates, reducing the chances of fatigue.
Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots – €84,03 ex. VAT
Handy as a little stocking-filler, a pair of sim gloves will stop your Alcantara-covered wheel from getting messed up, or if you use a direct drive wheelbase, prevent blisters.
IMB RACEWEAR GLOVES
IMB Racewear offers a range of customisable gloves priced between £40-50. They also sell customisable hoodies, team jerseys, boots and socks.
IMB Racewear gloves, IMB Racewear – £40-50
Game footage capture devices
If the sim racer in your life is looking to broadcast their abilities, edit videos or live stream, they will need either a capture card for inside their PC or a capture device which works across PC and console.
PC capture card – Elgato 4K60 Pro 4K HDR10
Perhaps the special sim racer in your life is looking to stream their races on services like Twitch or YouTube? Well, an Elgato capture card for their PC might be right up their street. Highly rated, we found their Game Capture 4K60 Pro 4K HDR10 card with a significant discount online.
Standalone capture device – Elgato 4K60 S+
Unlike a card that must be inserted inside a PC, the capture device sits externally and works across PC, PlayStation and Xbox. While the consoles have built-in streaming and video capturing capabilities, a dedicated device allows for greater storage space when paired with an optional SD card, higher bitrates and greater PC flexibility to boot.
If you’re doing a spot of sim racing streaming then you’ll want your audience to see your pretty face in full-HD detail, right?
The Razer Kiyo Pro provides 1080p resolution, 60 fps and a wide-angle lens, so your full collection of World Rally Championship DVDs can be seen on the shelves behind your rig (just me?)
So you’ve got your capture card and webcam, but to really stand out on stream you’ll need great lighting. The Elgato Key Light is one solution and offers optimal illumination in a handy desk clamp-enabled package. Its metal construction also ensures it won’t fall apart when your direct drive wheel goes haywire after being punted off on lap one.
For the best quality sound when streaming your gameplay, or for doing voiceover work on one of your hot lap videos, a separate microphone might be a great holiday gift idea.
BLUE YETI NANO
The Blue Yeti Nano is an excellent place to start, and might be the first step towards your burgeoning podcast career!
SHURE MV7 PODCAST MICROPHONE
At the upper end of the budget scale, the Shure MV7 Podcast Microphone will provide incredible audio quality, and even provides USB and XLR connections (XLR is a type of professional-grade audio connection).
Headsets are a vital tool in the world of sim racing, allowing you to communicate with your team and also hear any potential dive-bombers as you approach a hairpin. I suppose you can use them for other things too, but they don’t matter as much…
RAZER KRAKEN X
If a budget level headset is required – a first gaming headset perhaps – then you can’t look past the highly-rated Razer Kraken X. It provides a lot of performance for very little outlay.
RAZER BLACKSHARK V2
For a big step up in usability and price, the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless is an excellent choice and provides maximum flexibility compared to the cheaper, wired version.
Sim racing cockpits and seats
Sitting in a dedicated seat or cockpit can enhance the sim racing experience, if perhaps not provide the driver with extra speed. But, somewhere comfortable and support to sit while competing is essential, and if a steering wheel is in use, the next step up from mounting on an existing desk is some form of cockpit or stand.
Trak Racer FS3 Wheel Stand
A wheel stand isn’t a full sim racing cockpit, but it does allow you to mount a steering wheel and pedals to something that isn’t just an office desk.
This will mean the equipment can be neatly and easily folded away after use and prevent any potential furniture damage.
The Trak Racer FS3 is an affordable entry point that will add wheels and pedals on a sturdy platform without taking up much space.
Next Level Racing Wheel Stand 2.0
If space is an issue where you can’t have a full cockpit, or you just can’t keep anything set up permanently in your residence, the Next Level Racing Wheel Stand can keep things moveable or at least takes up less space than other set-ups.
It’s one-half of a full cockpit, but is designed to work with wheeled office chairs, thanks to a tray on the base that stops it from moving.
What’s also great is that this can be upgraded to a full rig with a separate seat add-on at a later date, a separate monitor stand and other separate parts and pieces that can be combined. It’s also sturdy enough to withstand powerful direct drive wheel bases and load cell pedals.
GT OMEGA PRO SERIES Chair
If your sim rig doubles as a workstation, then perhaps a gaming chair is what you need? Combining sporty styling and designed for extended sitting periods – be it for work or sim racing – a chair from GT Omega might just be what you need. The GT Omega PRO Series comes in multiple colours trimmed in leather or fabric.
DX RACER FORMULA SERIES Chair
Another highly-rated sim chair manufacturer is US-based DX Racer, and their Formula Series comes with a choice of three different colour combinations and is currently supplied with a free memory-foam pillow (available for a limited time).
DX Racer Formula Series – $329
PLAYSEAT CHALLENGE Cockpit
This is a sturdy and effective sim rig priced at the cheaper end of the market, but has the convenience of being foldable and compatible with pretty much all wheelbases (although maybe not ideal for direct drive wheel bases). A good idea if space is limited in your gaming room, or if sim racing is an infrequent hobby. A solid introduction to the world of sim rigs.
Do you love the Nordschleife but have already expressed that via the medium of a tasteful window sticker? Then how about a snug Nordschleife-branded scarf to help you through the cold snap?
Nürburgring Shop – €14.95
Famous Sim Racer T-shirt
Stand out from the crowds of streamers, influencers and other personalities by declaring yourself as a completely normal, unpopular sim racer.
Elite Performance Industries – $25 plus shipping
Now, this is a tricky one, as steering wheels will likely push the budget way above a small gift, however, if you really would like to push the boat out, they can be transformative for the budding sim racer.
You become so much more involved in the action and driving becomes far more life-like.
Beginning steering wheel and pedal sets
Thrustmaster T128 wheel and pedals
We think this is the best entry-level steering wheel, above devices such as Hori or used Logitechs. The T128 isn’t made from carbon fibre or trimmed in leather, it’s a black plastic steering wheel that looks a bit like a toy.
But, the force feedback system – a mixture of belts and gears – while not the pinnacle of sim racing, belies the price.
As an off-the-shelf all-in-one package with two pedals, gearshift paddles and decent feedback for a reasonable price, this is it.
If you do want something that’s still entry-level, but has better build quality than the Thrustmaster above, might we recommend the Logitech G923.
It’s a bundle deal, with a steering wheel and pedals, but you get metal gearshift paddles which are much nicer to use and a third pedal that can be a clutch.
Mid-range steering wheel and pedal sets
Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro
Okay, the chances of gifting this are slim due to its significant cost. But, if you do want to push the boat out, the Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro is a direct drive wheel base that delivers stunningly realistic feedback.
It’s also the beginning of an ecosystem, so the steering wheel is detachable from the wheel base, meaning different wheel designs can be purchased in the future. You can also buy different sets of pedals, upgrading over time, a Boost Kit for greater force feedback power and a desk mount.
The great thing about the DD Pro specifically, is that it’s compatible with PlayStation 4 and 5, alongside PC, and if an Xbox-compatible wheel is purchased, the Microsoft consoles too.
Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro – €969.85 plus shipping
Solo steering wheels
If your gift receiver already has a high-end direct drive wheel base with a quick release, then instead of the whole unit, you could buy them a separate steering wheel to use for their existing set-up.
Thrustmaster steering wheel – Formula Wheel Add-On Ferrari SF1000 Edition
An accessory to an existing wheel base system, namely the Thrustmaster TS-PC Racer, T-GT Servo Base, TS-XW Servo Base, TX Racing Wheel Servo Base, T818 and T300 Racing Wheel Servo.
If you know someone with one of those set-ups already, Formula Wheel Add-On Ferrari SF1000 Edition is one of the coolest steering wheels on the market and unquestionably Thrustmaster’s best.
It’s a near replication of an existing steering wheel that existed at some point in the Formula 1 paddock. It also has a functioning telemetry display that some platforms natively support.
Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren GT3 V2
Fanatec’s reworked McLaren GT3 steering wheel is a solid and versatile option for sim racers. With dual analogue clutch paddles, plenty of buttons and switches and a wallet-friendly price tag, this wheel is perfect for the multi-discipline sim racer.
Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren GT3 V2 – €199.95 plus shipping
MOZA GS V2 GT Wheel
For those you know who have a Moza Racing sim racing wheel base, this ‘V2’ version of the GS delivers a stylish, well-made, GT-style wheel, only now it’s compatible with Moza’s latest range of equipment.
There’s a forged carbon fibre centre piece, tactile buttons and satisfyingly analogue magnetic gearshift paddles.