The best racing games on PC

Best racing games: Forza Horizon 5
(Image credit: Playground Games)

The best racing games on PC feature everything from classics like Need for Speed and Midtown Madness to more modern games like Forza Horizon 5 and The Crew Motorfest. The racing genre has a rich history in PC gaming, which means the options of games to play are pretty endless. To make your search for the next best game slightly easier, we've pulled together all the best racing games you can play right now to save you from wading through the masses. 

Best of the best

Baldur's Gate 3 - Jaheira with a glowing green sword looks ready for battle

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

2024 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPS games: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

We've selected various racing games worth playing, including sims like Project CARS 2, or more offbeat, underrated choices like Driver: San Francisco. Generally, we play it pretty loosely with the definition of 'racing game' to ensure we've got games that appeal to all players—anything with wheels counts. But, even with our blurred guidelines, these games all have one thing in common: they all offer a fantastic driving experience in one way or another. 

If you're looking to take your driving simulation experience to the next level it's worth checking out our guide to the best steering wheels for PC

And for more articles about the very finest experiences in PC gaming, check out our lists of the best strategy games on PC, best free PC games, the best FPS games on PC, and the best puzzle games on PC. 

Sim racing games

Project CARS 2

PC Gamer's got your back Our experienced team dedicates many hours to every review, to really get to the heart of what matters most to you. Find out more about how we evaluate games and hardware.

Release date: 2017 | Developer: Slightly Mad Studios | Steam

This is the racing sim that attempts to do it all: ice racing on studded tires around Swedish snowdrifts. Karting in the Scottish highlands. Rallycross within Hockenheim’s infield section, mud splattering across everything and everyone. LMP1s hurtling through Imola, Indycars defying gravity at Daytona Speedway - and when you really get bored, Honda Civics trying to make it up Eau Rouge without stalling. 

More miraculous than the sheer breadth of content in Slightly Mad’s sim sequel is the fact they pull it all off. Loose surface racing feels just as convincing as hitting the track in a road-legal car, and the fidelity it conveys to your hands as you try to bully a car into the apex with its force feedback support is best-in-class stuff. Several racing drivers across numerous disciplines acted as consultants during development, and it really does show. A strong eSports scene is now solidified around Project CARS 2, and such is the depth of simulation that for young aspiring drivers, this might well be a fitting substitute for time on track.


iRacing - an indycar corners on the inside of a track

Release date: 2008 | Developer: iRacing Motorsport Simulations | iRacing

With its regular online racing leagues and meticulous car and track modelling, iRacing is as close to real racing as you can get on the PC.

That also means iRacing is something you need to work up to. It has no meaningful single-player component and, with its subscription fees and live tournament scheduling, it requires significant investment. Oh, and a force feedback wheel is quite literally required here - that's not us saying the gamepad support is poor. The game just won't let you race unless you have a wheel.

But for a certain class of sim racing fan, there is nothing that compares. The very best iRacing players often compete in real motorsport too, and make a career out of eSports sim racing. And having first released now over a decade ago in 2008, it's consistently stayed astride with the latest simulators each year. Quite an achievement.

Read more: iRacing review

F1 23

An in-game screenshot of an Aston Martin F1 car at the Imola circuit in F1 23.

(Image credit: EA)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Codemasters | Steam

Rather than redefining what the F1 racing experience feels like, F1 23 reinforces what makes the series worth playing in the first place. It's a fast-paced, technical racer with enhanced AI racers that make your time on the track more tense—able to push you to your limits. Paired with its photorealistic environments, it's incredibly easy to sink yourself into the world of F1 racing in the newest release. 

The return of the iconic Braking Point story is a welcome addition to F1 23 as well. Even though you're probably questioning how much there is to do with a Formula 1 story, F1 23 offers a narrative that is as engaging as it is exhilarating, much like the original story found in F1 21. Despite there being a lot of similarities between the original Braking Point, which long-term players will recognise, F1 23 manages to offer some originality through its characters, which present more convincing responses than before and help you feel more connected to the story.

Read more: F1 23 review

Assetto Corsa Competizione

Best racing games - racing in first person

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Kunos Simulazioni | Steam

To be brutally honest, the sim racing world probably wasn’t on the edge of its seat for an officially licensed game of the Blancpain World Endurance series. As motorsport licenses go it’s a bit on the niche side, but as it turns out it was just what the Assetto Corsa franchise needed.

Kunos Simulazioni’s 2014 game had a lot going for it, including a handling model to rival the very best and excellent wheel support, but there wasn’t much singleplayer structure. As for polish, forget about it. What this license gives its successor is an inviting championship structure with different vehicle categories and highly scalable endurance racing across treasured circuits like Paul Ricard, Spa Francorchamps and Circuit de Catalunya. The handling is better than ever through a good force feedback wheel, and it nails the day/night cycles - a must for an endurance racing sim, really.

Read more: Assetto Corsa Competizione is a rigorous, authentic racing sim, but only the hardcore need it right now

MotoGP 18

Best racing games - side view of racing motorcycle in motion

Release date: September 2018 |Developer: Milestone | Steam

Two wheels might be considered blasphemy in some corners of the racing community, but for all those willing to divide the usual wheelbase by half, Milestone’s licensed MotoGP sim offers quite a rush.

Motorcycle racing is inherently exciting - the lean angles, suicidal overtakes and acceleration rates just make for a great spectator sport. And Italian superbike specialists Milestone really nail that feeling of terror and bravery of being on a factory MotoGP bike. The Codemasters F1 games are obviously a big inspiration, to put it politely, but the upshot for anyone playing it is a layer of career simulation on top of the racing. Work your way up through slower categories, build a reputation, and hold out for that big team ride.

RaceRoom Racing Experience

Best racing games - three cars astride race on a track towards the camera

Release date: 2013 | Developer: Sector3 Studios | Steam

This is the descendant of SimBin's once-mighty racing empire. Think of it as GTR Online: it's the ruthlessly-authentic car sim you remember, but retooled for online free-to-play. The GT racing is beautifully modelled and captured through a good force feedback wheel, the online competition fierce and well-structured, and the catalog of cars and tracks deep enough to really specialise in a certain series thanks to that free-to-play model.

...Which is also its weakness. Once you get the cars on the track, it's all terrific and familiar. But off-track, RaceRoom is all about selling you bits and pieces of the game. Pick a series you want to race, and immerse yourself in it. There's more than enough to learn about vintage touring cars to occupy you for months, if not years, before you need to go dribbling over the in-game store menu again.

Read more: RaceRoom Racing Experience: Simbin's attempt to leave no vroom for improvement

rFactor 2

Best racing games - stock cars racing around a track

Release date: 2012 | Developer: Image Space Incorporated | Steam

rFactor will probably always feel rough around the edges, but it's the heir to one one of the PC's great racing games and one of the most impressive modding communities in the world. rFactor 2, like its predecessor, just keeps growing even years after launch as new car and track packs come out across all kinds of different series. It's not a cheap habit, but it will please serious racers.

That's only half the story, though. The sheer volume of user-created mods is enormous, and while the focus is on Formula One throughout the years those with an itch to be scratched in DTM, WTCC, GT racing and other open wheelers will be satiated too.

Grand Prix 3

Best racing games - an in car view of an indycar

Release date: 2000 | Developer: Microprose

Venerated for decades and still playable in 2019, Grand Prix 3 was a turning point in racing games. Geoff Crammond’s MicroProse had already made waves with Formula One Grand Prix and Grand Prix 2 in the early ‘90s, but hardware limitations meant they could only push the simulation so far at the time. Grand Prix 3 was a new level of fidelity. It modelled things like tyre wear, wet weather grip, and tiny setup tweaks - things that games had only been able to approximate in the broadest manner previously. Simply put, it felt like sitting inside a Formula One car. 

And to look back on today as a playable museum piece, it has the added incentive of capturing the sport at an especially exciting time, when legends like Schumacher and Hakkinen were battling for top spot and previous champions Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve struggled at the back of the pack. It’s also been modded to high heaven in the 19 years since it’s release, so with committed googling you can play through nearly two decades of F1 history.

Arcade racing games

The Crew Motorfest 

A car race on an overcast day in The Crew Motorfest.

(Image credit: Ubisoft Ivory Tower)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Ivory Tower | Epic

The Crew Motorfest brings better vehicle handling and more detailed graphics than previous The Crew games, which helps to put it above the rest. Although we argued in our review that there is a decent amount of Forza Horizon mimicry throughout the game, that doesn't stop it from offering a lively racing experience that's worth picking up. Sure, its overly-enthusiastic voice cast may seem a bit intense when you start, but before long you'll be using their encouragement to perform at your very best.

As we stated in our review, the game is at its best when it "dares to do something that Horizon doesn't" through its use of playlists that transform the landscape in response to the theme of your current challenge. These offer a variety of beautiful environments to help keep your time on the track exciting, while also putting your driving to the test since you don't know what may lurk around each twist and turn.

Read more: The Crew Motorsport review  

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 KITT skin for Trans Am

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Release date: November 5, 2021 | Developer: Playground Games | Steam, Microsoft Store

With Phil's review of Forza Horizon 5, he zooms in on the level of refinement that's taken place in the Forza series. No sweeping changes have been made in the newest entry in the series, but a meticulous level of craftsmanship is on display. The Playground team has spent countless hours polishing the hoods of 500 cars until they gleam, and the same is true of the environments in the new setting: Mexico.

The seasonal playlist is present and prominent from the beginning, forming the heart of the gameplay. You'll find yourself taking on unexpected challenges, and utilizing your entire stable of cars in pursuit of new rare additions, as Phil put it: "We've had plenty of looter shooters, but Forza Horizon is slowly turning into the first looter racer."

Read more: Forza Horizon 5 looks like a truly 'next-gen' game

Dirt Rally 2.0

Best racing games - a rally car races in an autumn forest

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Codemasters | Steam

The first Dirt Rally was a revelation when it arrived in 2015, departing from the snapback caps and energy drink ads that erstwhile came to define the Dirt series and renewing its focus on the staggering challenge of - well, just keeping a car on the track of a rally course. Dirt Rally 2.0 does that too, and its’ better at it in every way.

Rallying is an incredibly high-skill discipline, and Codemasters don’t ask any less of you than a real 4WD WRC vehicle would. At least, that’s how it feels - in truth none of us have firsthand experience of how it feels to fling a Citroen through Finland’s dirt roads as quickly as Sebastien Ogier can do it, nor will we ever. But the transfer of weight in Dirt Rally’s cars, the feeling of raw power while the wheels scrabble for traction under you, feel utterly convincing.

Read more: Dirt Rally 2.0 review

Forza Motorsport 

Forza Motorsport Porsche close-up

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Turn 10 Studios | Steam

Forza Motorsport is a step up for Turn 10's storied series. Even if the series isn't as absurdly varied and full of personality as the Horizon spin-offs, Motorsport is one of the best pure racing games around. Vehicles here have a newfound weight which feeds into a more detailed experience since you'll have to consider things such as traction and wear on your tires depending on where you are. Everything just feels more precise than it did in Forza Motorsport 7.

As we stated in our review of Forza Motorsport, the handling is absolutely wonderful, which is where this game excels. Driving feels fast and fluid both on and offline, and you feel immersed in the landscapes you're speeding through, which marks a fantastic racing game. Races feel tense and exhilarating, and you feel in complete control of your vehicle at all points which helps drive you (no pun intended) to beat your own records.  

Read more: Forza Motorsport review

TrackMania 2

Best racing games - low angle view of race cars coming down a half pipe

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Release date: 2020 | Developer: Ubisoft Nadeo | Steam, Ubisoft Store

Almost a decade after the release of Trackmania 2, Ubisoft Nadeo debuted its semi-reboot of series with Trackmania 2020. The new game features some significant graphical upgrades, but the real treat is the addition of daily featured tracks, new track pieces like ice, and improved checkpointing. Most importantly, it's a fresh start for Trackmania detached from Nadeo's strange Maniaplanet platform.

But don't worry, Trackmania is still incredibly weird. I've already played tons of nonsensical tracks that require pinpoint timing, endless repetition, and a little bit of luck. Nadeo is also taking a more hands-on approach to post-release content by releasing new tracks made by the studio on a seasonal basis. If you're a lapsed fan or new to the series, this is where you want to be.

Read more: Players demolish Trackmania's 'impossible' skip and fly over the finish line in reverse

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Best racing games - police supercar chases a racer

Release date: 2010, 2020 (Remaster) | Developer: Criterion Games | Steam (Remastered)

Hot Pursuit is a driving game frozen in a particularly special time for arcade racers. The purest essence of Need for Speed before the series went all open-world, it delivers exactly what the title promises, in race after race, with no downtime. Enjoy the simple life as you aim a European exotic down a stretch of hauntingly beautiful Pacific coast highway with a train of police cars following in your wake.

It's aged like an oak-smoked A-lister too. The roadside textures and car poly counts might not be able to compete directly with the latest releases, but the overall aesthetic in Hot Pursuit still looks luxurious. And above all, fast.

Read more: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit review

My Summer Car

Best racing games - a tiny beat up car parked in a driveway

Release date: 2016 | Developer: Amistech Games | Steam

At least half your time in My Summer Car is spent outside of a car. In fact, it’s as much a car mechanic game and a simulator of being a teenage layabout in 1990s rural Finland as a racing game per se. It makes its way on this list, however, because for anyone with a passing interest in cars it’s an essential experience.

It all begins with a note from your parents telling you to rebuild the junked car in your garage. From there you construct a driveable, moddable vehicle down to the most minute nuts and bolts, teaching you exactly what an exhaust manifold looks like and what happens when it rattles loose along a lakeside single lane road at 70mph. Car ownership has never felt more satisfying and personal in driving games than in this slightly janky but beautifully esoteric builder-meets-racer.

GRID Autosport

Best racing games - behind-the-car view of racecars in motion

Release date: 2014 | Developer: Codemasters

Autosport is Codemasters' easiest, most entry-level track racing game. The car handling is very forgiving, but with just enough fight in it to teach you the basics of corner-braking and throttle-control. Outside the car it does as deep as you're up for, though. It's got full-race weekends, typically strong opponent AI for Codemasters, and tons of variety in its racing formats. 

Although the super-satisfying team management elements from previous Grid games are pared back here (who didn't swell with pride when they finally got that B&O sponsorship in Grid 1?) it's still a great point-of-entry for people curious about sim-style racing, and fun for more hardcore drivers who just want to relax.

Read more: Grid: Autosport review

Driver: San Francisco

Best racing games - a muscle car zooms down city streets

Release date: 2011 | Developer: Ubisoft Reflections

With a retro-chic ‘70s vibe, one of the best soundtracks in games, and a truly original twist on the open world racer, Driver: San Francisco just radiates style and cool in a way that no other game on this list can match, despite its advancing years. 

With the ability to "shift" between NPC cars at-will, Driver:SF is one of the only post-Paradise open-world racers to think of something fresh and new to do with the freedom of the open world. In truth the brilliance of its central idea does outweigh the feel of its handling, which aims for Need For Speed but doesn't quite excite in the same way. It's still rough and ready enough to power a brilliantly odd story and bring San Francisco to life, though.

Read more: Driver: San Francisco review

Split / Second

Best racing games - several cars slide through corner in front of explosions

Release date: 2010 | Developer: Black Rock Studio | Steam

Welcome to the Michael Bay Motorsports Hour, where fake sports cars will rocket through desolate, orange-filtered urban wastelands at blinding speed while drivers accumulate enough energy to trigger bomb-drops from overhead helicopters, vicious sweeps from out-of-control cranes, and even the odd explosion of an entire city block.

Nearly 10 years on, Split/Second remains the perfect chaser to a lot of open-world arcade racers: it's laser-focused on absurd automotive chaos and increasingly improbable tableaus of bloodless mechanical carnage.

Burnout Paradise Remastered

Best racing games - a car races on streets while another crashes

Release date: 2018 | Developer: Criterion Games | Steam

Racing games aren't often treated to remasters. The big franchises iterate so often that there rarely seems much point, but in the case of Burnout Paradise everybody was happy to see an exception to the rule. In 10 years, there's been nothing quite like it.

And yet the original model still surpasses its imitators. It's so much purer and more exciting than the games it inspired. It doesn't have any licensed cars, so instead it features car-archetypes that crumple into gut-wrenchingly violent wrecks. Compare those to the fender-benders that wipe you out in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Criterion's attempt at topping themselves and where you get the sense that just depicting a shattered headlight would have entailed hundreds of meetings with Lamborghini's lawyers.

Paradise isn't an online "social" experience. It's not all about collectibles and unlocks. You get new cars, but they're not the point of the game. It's about driving around a city populated entirely by cars, listening to a drivetime DJ spin classic and pop rock tracks while you drive hell-for-leather through twisting city streets, mountain passes, and idyllic farmland. It's violent, blindingly fast, and endlessly entertaining. It's created the modern arcade racing genre, but the joke is on us, because all we've done ever since is try to get back to Paradise.

Read more: Why I love the freedom of Burnout Paradise

Phil Iwaniuk

Phil 'the face' Iwaniuk used to work in magazines. Now he wanders the earth, stopping passers-by to tell them about PC games he remembers from 1998 until their polite smiles turn cold. He also makes ads. Veteran hardware smasher and game botherer of PC Format, Official PlayStation Magazine, PCGamesN, Guardian, Eurogamer, IGN, VG247, and What Gramophone? He won an award once, but he doesn't like to go on about it.

You can get rid of 'the face' bit if you like.

No -Ed. 

With contributions from