I'm late but how is the search going, have you heard of Live for Speed
(not "Need" lol...)? Even though it released in 2003 (and in some minor parts it still looks that way) I got a feeling you may like it. And if you like it then you will love it and refuse to play any other racing game.
I'd hate to spoil the first impressions for you so just grab the free demo and hop in. Very old school stuff, many intuitive customization options, low system reqs, all the good stuff. Multiplayer is where bread and butter is (from casual, beginner, to pro) but you can drive single player (alone or with bots). I'll just say to may knowledge, and many others, this is the most accurate commercially available simulation of driving a car. I heard Valtteri Bottas made his first steps there. Poor sucka should have stayed longer and he would be Champ already...
It's still in active development but very slow progress due to one coder and one artist/modeler. Its peak was '07-'10 when it had a large active community. I stopped playing in '17 I think, after being addicted for over a decade, due to saturation. And I wasn't even a fan for racing games to begin with but stuck with it, so that's saying something. You lemme know, susjed Janez.