Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games


Before the days of Gran Turismo on your home gaming console you had to occupy local arcades to hone your digital driving skills. Here is a trip down a virtual memory lane.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

This is about as vintage as it gets for a racing arcade game. The faster you spun the wheel the faster your car headed toward the finish line in a heads up drag race.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

To win the game you had to endure hand blisters. Nope, no pixels in this game and you couldn't race against the machine. The game took two people to play.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

In 1976 we had the chance to use a steering wheel, a gas pedal and a stick shift as we raced against our friends or the computer in the video game Sprint 2.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

A black and white screen was it for this game. You had to watch out for oil on the track and as you progressed through the game the tracks would change. The Sprint 2 steering wheel had no stop to it and would spin around endlessly causing your car to frustratingly drive in circles on the screen.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

Also in 1976, decades before it was cool to run down hookers in the game Grand Theft Auto, you could run down pedestrians for sport in the video game Death Race.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

The idea was simple: chase down pedestrians and kill them. After you mowed down a person a cross would appear on the screen and create an obstacle to have to navigate around for the rest of the game play. The black and white game was inspired by the film Death Race 2000.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

In 1979 we finally got the chance to sit on our butts and drive, like we do in real cars, with Monaco GP.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

This game had a color screen and cool sound effects. The speed of this game was intense and you had to have quick reaction times to avoid the slower moving cars and random ambulances on the track.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

In 1982 racing games (and my life) changed forever with the introduction of Pole Position. The local movie theater in the town where I grew up had a small arcade with this game in it. I don't want to know how many quarters I dropped into this sucker. Ironically, probably enough to buy a real car (at least a $500 ChumpCar anyway) and do some real driving instead of farting around with video games.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

Pole Position gave a more realistic driver's viewpoint of a twisting track. You had to watch out for billboards and other cars because an impact would cause you to burst into flames.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

A year later, in 1983, Spy Hunter was released and we had the chance to play James Bond.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

Armed with oil slicks and forward guns to take out our enemies we could live out our spy driving fantasies. The game had a great theme song too.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

Then, in 1986, the racing arcade game Outrun reassured us young boys what we already believed about the automobile and that is a cool car will get you a hot chick.

Digital Drive: Vintage Racing Arcade Games

Rollin' in a red Ferrari Testarossa convertible with a blonde honey riding shotgun we all got the chance to race along the beautiful coastlines of California trying to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. Crashing would toss the driver and passenger out of the car. To add insult to injury the blonde would shoot you some attitude for your poor driving.

So if you run across any of these vintage machines and the high score has the initials ROB, that would be some other guy. I never dominated any of these games, but loved them all nonetheless.