The Evolution of Sim-Racing


  • The Evolution Through The Ages of Sim-Racing
  • Video Games & Motorsport Go Hand in Hand
  • From Atari in 1982 To rFactor2

Sim-Racing is huge today. We can look back to nearly three decades ago to see the starting of competitive racing and see how this has changed as our world has developed into the digital, technological world that it is today.

1. Pole Position, Atari 1982

Many of us can remember 1982, whilst others might struggle to think back the days before a smartphone. Believe it or not, you couldn’t just download endless apps to entertain yourself back in the early 80’s. You could, however, buy a video game console. Yet these consoles were only a fraction of what they are today. Most consoles mainly featured bat-and-ball styles games, and just 3.5k of memory.

This meant that the wannabe racers of the 1980’s had to take to the arcades to get their fix of gaming. Pole Position was the first arcade game to put the driver behind the car rather than seeing the race at a helicopter view (which we saw with the first-ever racing arcade game Gran Trak 10).

Pole Position was a game changer. So much so that Dario Franchitti, the Indycar legend and Formula E commentator, used Pole Position to practise on unsuspecting rivals during his childhood in the arcades of Scotland.

2. Revs, Acornsoft 1984

This game ground breaking game was produced for the BBC Micro and Commodore 64 in the early 1980’s and was revered by everyone who played it thanks to its super realism.

It was the first game to add a level of simulation, as it used a Formula 3 car as its base racer. It also allowed the driver to change elements including the front and wear wing levels, and establish the perfect set up to take on Silverstone (as well as Brands Hatch, Donington, Oulton Park and Snetterton in future expansion packs!)

3. Super Monaco GP, Sega 1989

Gamers would have thought they had hit an arcading gaming peak in 1989, when Super Monaco GP allowed drivers to take on Monaco in a car that even included paddle gear-change.

The cars looked incredible, not to mention that the F1 cars of the 1989 are arguable some of the best-looking cars of all time any way.

There was a seven-speed gearbox, but this was still an arcade game. The shift from having to reach checkpoint after checkpoint would take a few more years to come to fruition…

4. Grand Prix 2, MicroProse 1996

Grand Prix 2 is known as one of the most realistic driving games of the 1990’s. The levels of customisation meant that drivers could tailor the difficult to suit their ability and meant that there were litearlly 100s of hours of playing time.

One thing about Grand Prix 2 is that it stands the test of time. Twenty years later you can play it and get just as enthralled.

5. rFactor, Image Space Inc 2005

rFactor launching in 2005 is arguably the defining moment of the evolution in Sim-Racing. The reasons for this are endless, from the intensity of the game physics engine to the ability for independent developers to mod their own version.

This became the go-to piece of software for real world racing teams to use within their in-house simulator, which in itself demonstrates its ability.

The Sim-Racing that we see today all owes a debt of gratitude to rFactor.

There are many other worthy racing titles that we have not covered, the vast array of racing games through the ages seems to be endless, in fact there are so many, we couldn't cover them all!

Check out the video below from Donut Media for a full range of your favourite titles through the years...

(Credit: Donut Media)

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