A beginner’s guide to NASCAR Heat 5

Prior to NASCAR Rivals, NASCAR Heat Ultimate Edition+, and NASCAR 21: Ignition, the first NASCAR title Motorsport Games was named after was the final game in the numbered NASCAR Heat series, NASCAR Heat 5.

What is still perhaps the most played NASCAR title to date is available to play on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and on PC via Steam. Heat 5 supports single player career, single player races, 40 player online multiplayer, challenges, championship mode as well as split screen multiplayer.

I’m going to dive into some of the basics of NASCAR Heat 5 to help everyone get started. From setting up controls to starting a career, playing online to customizing your driver, and everything in between, I’ve got what you need to succeed in the 2020 NASCAR gaming title.


First, you’ll configure how you want to play the game. There are four difficulty presets – Casual, Normal, Hard, and Expert. The lower you are, the easier things will be. More driving assistance will be implemented and AI will be disabled. Conversely, the higher you climb, the more difficult it will be.

This game works with wheels, some depending on whether you are on PC or console. With one wheel, the Expert experience is probably good, even for a casual sim racer. Additionally, players can further customize their experience in the game settings.

Turning off all assists would require an expert touch to not fully spin on takeoff or lock the brakes when trying to slow down. Start at a lower setting until you are more comfortable, then increase it from there. Some other custom settings, such as tougher AI but more assists or vice-versa, are also editable here.

NASCAR Heat 5 allows custom setups, but you need to bump your difficulty up to Hard or Expert (hard values ​​at minimum) to play with it.

In the configuration settings, there are a ton of things to adjust. It’s a sorely missed feature that hasn’t been found in a NASCAR title since NH5. Playing around with these settings could make your car run smoother and faster during a race.

If you didn’t want to mess with the details like that, NASCAR Heat 5 also features a slider bar to adjust between loose and tight and a few areas in between.


As is usually the case with NASCAR console games, the career mode is the costliest element for the majority of them. Its immersive capabilities allow players to choose a place to start their career. If you don’t like dirt, start with the trucks! Or, start at the next level and see what’s available from the start.

You can race in all four series if you wish, and like you can race every season as an owner/driver or just drive for a pre-existing team.

The latter will allow players to choose from one of the entry-level teams in each series, such as Rick Ware Racing or Spire Motorsports for Cup, or Hattori Racing or MBM Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.

Players will be able to choose which driver to replace, or they can also add their own car with one of the team sponsors and start their career from there. As players progress, the teams to choose from and drive from will become more lucrative as each team’s goals are achieved.

As owner/driver, you’ll create your own team, manage expenses and staff, upgrade equipment, and work your way to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series.

NASCAR fans, think of it like what Tony Stewart did when he drove for Stewart-Haas Racing, or what BJ McLeod is currently doing with Live Fast Motorsports. The ultimate goal is to become the NASCAR Cup Series champion.

There will be incentive-based challenges from sponsors to complete that you can choose easy or difficult. An easier challenge will give a smaller monetary prize. Momentum is something that can be gained over the course of a season that gives a bit of a boost.

If you’re having trouble meeting sponsor goals, maybe consider taking a lower goal. Achieving goals in general is good for the business relationship you share with your upline.

If you consistently fail to meet expectations, it will be a little more difficult to retain sponsors and find better rides. Moreover, you will have at least some income, even from a lower goal.

For the owner/driver, there are four different types of cars, from Short Track to Speedway, then Superspeedway and finally Road Course.

The first race of the season is the Daytona 500, but opting for a Superspeedway car as your first purchase will put players behind the ball on the speedways that follow.

There are also engineers who can be hired to help increase the engine power, chassis, and aerodynamic capabilities of the car, depending on their specialties and how you upgrade them.

You will need to upgrade both departments (with money) and people (with money). Don’t overspend if you find a place where you’re competitive, you don’t need to fully upgrade until later.

NASCAR isn’t usually about winning it all in the first season, it should be a race to the top. It’s your fake money, so spend it however you see fit.


The career schedule follows the NASCAR Cup Series 36-race schedule, beginning at Daytona and ending at Phoenix. Races can be set to different lengths, some will enable more options, such as yellow flags, stages and black flags.

You can also choose to enable DNFs in the settings. If you crash hard enough, you will complete the race without completion. You can simulate sessions if you don’t want to participate in a practice, qualifying or even a race session.

However, there are only 36 races and one series to contend with now. The season is divided into four Superspeedway races, eight Short Tracks, three Road Courses and 21 Intermediate Speedway races.

My suggestion would be to build the intermediate speedway car first, since that’s the bulk. After that, whichever of the other three you prefer. Don’t forget to upgrade staff and departments along the way!

Take note, the game classifies Phoenix Raceway as a short track, so a short track car will work better there… but that’s just plain wrong, in my opinion.

Don’t forget about NASCAR Heat 5’s reputation system. Your reputation depends on how well you drive computer opponents. Some teams won’t hire you if you have too many rivals, or some rivals against you.

nascar heat 5 reputation chart

You get into rivalries with the drivers by messing them up and it will be harder to race around them.

On the other side of the coin, if you work with another AI driver to draft and make clean passes, you will become friendly with them, making them more likely to work with you.


There are a host of other modes outside of the NASCAR Cup Series career. Single-player modes, such as Single Race and Challenges, are designed to entertain players at their own pace.

Multiplayer options, such as Online or Local, exist to allow players to enjoy the title with others. If you don’t want the heaviness that comes with a career, players can also create their own leagues to compete in.

Finally, there are customization options to get into. Cars and drivers can be created in your image for a truly immersive experience.


Race Now is pretty self-explanatory. Choose a series, choose a car, choose a track, participate in a single race. Race Now is great for learning a circuit for the first time in a racing setting, perhaps to see how different settings might work.

There are 30 selectable asphalt racing venues here. In some cars, some venues host a second date that can be repeated to recur in your unique racing effort. There are also some tracks that do not normally appear on their respective schedules. For example, the Cup Series doesn’t go to Canada or Central Ohio, but you can race them here.

Eldora is only selectable in trucks, as far as the normal NASCAR series is concerned. Dirt cars can also choose Eldora and special dirt races they cannot participate in.


For NASCAR Heat 5, up to 40 players can enter a lobby and race against each other or a number of AI cars. A host can configure the lobby, choosing most of the details that might be chosen for an offline race.

Options range from the basics, like number of laps, flag settings and track, to the number of assists that can be turned on or off.

Split Screen is a local multiplayer option allowing two players to race in an offline session on a single console or PC.


The NASCAR Heat 5 paint booth includes a list of pre-made bases and specifically placed sponsors.

Unlike Ignition and Rivals, creators won’t need to create their own liveries from shapes and size their own logos to fit perfectly, that’s just not a feature of this title. Instead, they’ll just have to conform to the placement and dimensions provided by the game with no custom options.

A driver can also be created in NASCAR Heat 5, and it’s the same process as in Rivals. Details such as facial features, weight, height, and uniform can all be adjusted.

When you load into a Race Weekend, you’ll see your character leaning on the race vehicle. When you win, your avatar will celebrate in victory lane. Go as precise or as wild as you desire.


So here is. Please remember that this is a getting started guide for beginners and there are a lot more details to enter. Did we forget something important? Let us know in the comments below!

Full Disclosure – Traxion.GG is part of Motorsport Games and the Motorsport Games family of brands. All Traxion.GG content is editorially removed from Motorsport Games video game development and created by a dedicated team.

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