The magazine has news and feature articles relating to most of the world's major auto racing series, including NASCAR, Formula One, the IndyCar Series, Champ Car, the American Le Mans Series, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, NHRA Drag Racing, and the World Rally Championship, as well as local racing categories and feeder series. The magazine includes extensive photography of race vehicles. Past article subjects have included the BMW Sauber Formula One car, the Toyota FJ Cruiser desert racer, and the Cadillac CTS-V SPEED GT racecar. In addition to the monthly print magazine, some of Racer’s editors provide news briefs, commentaries and feature articles for Speed Channel.
The magazine debuted with the May 1992 issue with the cover story about the "engine war" in the CART, and the cover photo was a head-on shot of Emerson Fittipaldi’s Penske-Chevrolet Indycar by Michael C. Brown. The magazine was launched by Paul F. Pfanner, and originally published by Racer Communications, Inc. which was a sister company of Pfanner Communications, Inc. that published SportsCar magazine for the Sports Car Club of America and Champ Car magazine. Racer's founding Publisher was Bill Sparks and the founding Editor was John Zimmermann. It was listed as one of the "12 best magazines in America" by M.I.N. Magazine in 1999. The company and the title was later purchased by London-based Haymarket Publishing (now Haymarket Media Group) in early 2001. The magazine was sold back to its founders in 2012.
Contributing writers have included Ben Blake, Pete Brock, Richard S. Chang, Rich Conklin, Adam Cooper, Richard S. James, David Malsher, Robin Miller, Jonathan Noble, Jeff Olson, David Phillips, Marshall Pruett, Jeremy Shaw and Gary Watkins.