The game has zero licenses beyond the IHRA name, which means that all of the parts you'll buy have fake aftermarket names, and the cars you can buy look like knockoff versions of Challengers, Chargers, Camaros, Monte Carlos, and so on. There's also some light tuning you can do, such as suspension stiffness and your fuel ratio, and you can also choose from a handful of paint designs and colors. The season mode focuses on a series of 12 bracketed events where you can earn not just cash, but points that go toward your overall position for the season, though if you go straight into one of the 12 season events with your stock car, you won't make it past the first qualifier. Instead, you'll have to go and engage in single races, over and over again, in order to build up enough of a bankroll to get your car into serious competition shape. The fact that you have to go through a bunch of monotonous races for cash before you can think about going through the monotonous season races speaks to how poorly the season mode was laid out.
Making IHRA Drag Racing: Sportsman Edition even harder to sit through is its muddy, underwhelming presentation. The cars themselves actually look like decent approximations of real hot rods, but everything else is just flat, barren, and ugly, which makes it kind of appalling that the game has trouble keeping a stable frame rate when all it's showing is two cars and maybe a dozen cardboard-cutout spectators. The game uses some filtering effects to augment the frankly pathetic sensation of speed, though they kick in at specific intervals so bluntly that it almost feels like the graphics engine is shifting gears. Both the PS2 and Xbox versions are pretty unpleasant, though in their own special way--the PS2 version is grainier, while the Xbox version feels smoother, but more washed out. Regardless, both versions are saddled with lots of ridiculous load times. The game can't even muster some decent noise for the cars, which are inappropriately subdued and often overwhelmed by the game's antiseptic heavy metal-inspired soundtrack, and you can forget about bells and whistles like track announcers.
It can be tempting to forgive certain production value shortcomings when you're looking at a budget-priced game like IHRA Drag Racing: Sportsman Edition, but the whole of this game is so shallow and so unengaging, it doesn't warrant any such charity. This is a dreary approximation that makes the genuinely exciting world of nitro-burnin' dragsters just look like a drag.