By on January 27, 2020

There was a minor flap on the internet (Twitter — where else?) the other day in which a few racing drivers were slagging online racing for some reason or another. It is true that there have been several examples of someone making the jump from PlayStation to an actual car … but it is also true that one does not feel the heat, G forces, and barrage of noise like one would in a real race.

This debate will not be solved any time soon, and will likely still be raging after the coronavirus consumes us all. Our question of the day is simply this: what title was your first experience with a racing game?

As a pre-teen gearhead in the 1980’s, living in a tiny rural community where there were no interesting cars and even fewer computers, my brain just about melted when I saw the Test Drive computer game, introduced in 1987.

It mattered not that the scenery was limited to an endless cliffside road with a treadmill-like rock wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other, nor did it bother me that the DOS graphics only bore the slightest resemblance to the cars they meant to portray. To my seven year-old brain, it was real, man. The first-person driving position helped, too (that’s the view I prefer to this day, strangely).

Since then, of course, many new titles have captured my attention — Gran Turismo and the Forza series to name a few. But, as with most addictions, it had to start somewhere. What was yours?

[Image: classicreload.com]

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29 Comments on “QOTD: The Games People Play?...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    “Accolade presents…”

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Yep, Test Drive. In all of its 4-color CGA glory (we had an IBM PC. Yes, the OG one.) Cyan, Magenta, White, and Black.

    used to stew in envy at people who had 16-color EGA cards like the box photos. Those lucky f***s with Amigas, on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I had Test Drive on my Amiga. You could see the scowl on the cop’s face every time he’d pull you over.

      I remember the excitement when I got to drive the Testarossa! Man, I wish I still had that thing to pass on to my kids.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Not just the graphics, but it sounded much better than the PC version. Then TDII The Duel and all the expansion packs. The F1 game was good too for its day on the Amiga.

        I don’t play any on a console or the arcade type games but have the proper G27 wheel for the racing/driving games. Everything from rock crawling to desert racing to road racing to sprint cars. Even dad, in his 70s now, will drive on the dirt oval since he did that for real in the past and that is one computer interface he is familiar with. He does the demolition derby with our 10 year old boy. Dad used to win those often and the boy likes destruction in general. They have a grand time.

        Flight and air combat sime too. Have always had those from the Mig Alley on the C64 days.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I should mention, my abandonware has those for you.

  • avatar
    NoID

    NASCAR Racing *insert Ned Jarrett’s voice* from Papyrus.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    NAMCO Pole Position, 1982. Spent a LOT of quarters on that one.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Outrun on my Tandy.

    Lando Norris is an avid sim racer, so unless those racers finished ahead of him in the F1 championship last year their opinions are worthless.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Probably the first was “Turbo” on Coleco Vision (with the wheel FTW) or Test Drive on the C64, but the Arcade version of “Hard Drivin\'” and “Race Drivin” got me hooked (I believe Atari did them) and are why I built a rig and went VR today.

    That game had a physics model, force feedback, and a clutch pedal. It was a revelation in driving sims at the time. Much High School was skipped to play that at the Arcade.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Probably Pole Position on the C64, in 1985. Pitstop 2 shortly after.

    The Test Drive series + Grand Prix Circuit were really great, the presentation was incredible for the time. C64’s awesome sound chip helped a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      dont.fit.in.cars

      I was getting a pilots license and fixing jets. No time to fiddle with a video game. Fast forward to today my 11 year old son ask me to play a racing video game, after 10 minutes, he gently removed my controller, placed it on the shelf and said thanks, haven’t asked me to play since. Apparently I can keep up with him.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Some old geezers on this site.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Night Drive on the Atari 2600. Using the paddles, of course (no brakes!!)

    Just kidding, but I wanted to bring this one up anyway :D

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Sim racers and pro racers have one thing in common: when they wreck, it’s cost free. When you race for real on your own nickel, your attitude can change. At least that was my view of it. If I totalled my SCCA car, it was gonna be a long time to get back in the game.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    My obsession started with the exact game referenced here on the Commodore 64. It moved to Test Drive II and its California Challenge expansion pack. When we joined the IBM compatible universe, there was the original Need for Speed – the one with Road & Track co-branding. I also played the you-know-what about NFS: II, III, and IV. I personally think the series peaked with Porsche Unleashed, though I know a lot of gearheads who love the Underground franchise. I haven’t really gotten deep into racing games since, though I’ve been playing a bit of Forza Motorsport 7 since I got myself an Xbox One and a Game Pass subscription.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    A lot of Pole Position and Spyhunter – coin arcade games!

    I had an Atari 2600, then a Commodore 64, and later an Amiga but never really got into racing games.

    It wasn’t until the Playstation years that I got into Need for Speed and the Gran Turismo series.

    These days it’s more Grand Theft Auto ;) than anything serious.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    Atari Night Driver, kids.

    Had Test Drive on the Amiga and thought it was lame. Didn’t find a good racing game until Grand Tourismo hit the PS2. It’s all been great since then.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Gran Prix Circuit on the C64 was the first game that actually felt like driving to me. I played pretty much every driving / racing game around since I was a kid that grew up in the late 70s/early 80s. So if it was on the Atari 2600, C64, Sega Saturn (remember Daytona USA?) or PlayStation I played it. I pretty much didn’t care for any games other then racing games. While everyone else was playing Doom I was playing Ridge Racer (PS1).

    Laugh all you want but Gran Turismo on the Playstation is what got me to the point I am at today where I occasionally instruct at HPDE. The license tests teach all about braking, apex, weight transfer, etc. While obviously simplified it allowed me to learn the basics in a cheap safe environment. Many years later I had gotten to the point I was running a full feedback wheel and pedals setup, while racing online. Then I got a 350Z and started doing it for real on the track which made the game version seem kind of silly.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I don’t have the attention span to play video gains for more than half an hour, by which I get a little buggy and have to get up and go outside. My favorite game was some little F1 scrolling twitch game. Left and right were your only moves. Each race got more difficult. If you made it all the way thru you got to play some psychedelic race. Wining that got you the championship and you started over. Problem was it was timed to the PC clock and somewhere I lost the ability to slow down the computer enough to play it.

    These days I play a little solitaire, as my attention span is down to about 10 minutes.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I remember playing Test Drive on our Commodore 128 in 1987. It was a pirated copy and whoever cracker it had lyrics to Mission by Rush scrolling while the game loaded.

    I also remember Pole Position well, playing that on a friend’s C64 before my parents bought a 128.

    Good times. Looking back, the graphics were terrible but those were fun games at the time.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I think the first racing game I played was Skunny Kart (terrible Mario Kart knockoff) from one of those cheap floppy discs that had multiple games on it. I also remember playing Lotus Challenge, and some off road racing game for C64 I don’t remember the name of.

    I didn’t really get into them though until the original Gran Turismo.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    That’s a tough question. I don’t recall my first electronic race game. I do recall “pong”. When I was a kid my best friend’s dad and uncle owned a business servicing pool tables, pin ball etc. They had the first “pong” to hit the town sitting in their garage. It is hard to believe that we thought that was cool.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    The Ford Simulator Games :(
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/06/revisiting-lake-wakatonka-looking-back-fords-driving-simulation-software/

  • avatar
    JRED

    Not sure which came first, but I played NFS Porsches Unleashed and Papyrus NASCAR on PC. I remember endlessly tweaking car setups on NASCAR game, looking for a magic formula.

    A little later I got into NASCAR Dirt to Daytona, a great PS2 game. Then came Gran Turismo, then Live 4 Speed, then I aged out of it all.

    An iRacing setup would be fun in the home office though.

  • avatar
    Mackey

    Top 3 from my youth…

    3. RC Pro Am- cartoonish Nintendo graphics, but a classic

    2. Pole Position- Especially in the full enclosure arcade version

    1. HARD DRIVIN’- No doubt here.. That game was revolutionary! True Story- when I was 15 and had bought a 5 speed Nissan Sentra, my dad took me out to learn to drive a stick. To his surprise, I already could. When he asked how, I proudly said “Hard Drivin’!!”

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