The world of motorsport is a wide, wild and glorious thing, from grassroots kart racing through to bare-knuckle club racers and all the way up to the glitz and glamour of the F1 paddock. There’s such variety and richness, in fact, it’s a small shame so many facets of the sport are overlooked when it comes to video games – so here’s a quick rundown of some real-life racing series that are ripe for the digital treatment.
24 Hours of LeMons
Le Mans might be the ultimate motor race and all that, but have you ever thought about running a race track once around the clock in whatever rustbucket you just chanced upon in the classifieds for $500? Because that sounds like a whole lot of fun.
Running since 2006, the 24 Hours of LeMons now feels as established as its great namesake, and in a funny sort of way, it’s just as prestigious. How can you not respect the bravery and engineering ingenuity of teams that put themselves up to the challenge? Or of someone who staples an ironing board onto the back of a Toyota MR2 with 200,000 miles on the clock in the hope of staging a challenge?
And how can you not want to play a game that’d be as much about adding outrageous appendages to archaic motors, and heading to battle with hope in your heart and a whole load of duct tape to hold it all together. Yes please.
A brilliantly open-armed series, in Britcar you’ll see all sorts competing. There’s no better word to describe its field, really, than absolutely batshit. Where else can you see a Smart ForFour line up for combat against a GT3 Ferrari? Or where a BMW 1M E82 that looks like you’ve whacked every upgrade possible you could afford in Forza on it is racing wheel to wheel with the weirdness of a Praga R1 – a prototype that looks like one of Ridge Racer Type 4’s high-end cars gone a bit awry. It’s an incredible amount of fun.
It’s an all-stars battle royale sort of racing, where seemingly anything goes. I’m pretty sure I could turn up to a race with my Ford Tourneo and have them politely invent a class for me to race in – and an enjoyably gritty edge lent to it by the more homely locations it visits. What a game it could make, though: I’m in my pimped-out Golf, and you turned up in a Radical, we’re at a sodden Brands Hatch, there are two dozen other mad bastards up against us and the night is fast closing in. Let’s go!
BPR Global GT Series
Okay, so the BPR – a short-lived but brilliant series that ran from 1994 through to 1996 before morphing into the FIA GT Championship – sort of got a game already in the shape of the much-loved Scud Race, but as awesome as that classic Sega arcade racer was its authenticity wasn’t quite there (unless I missed the round of the series that raced through aztec ruins and underwater tunnels).
What the BPR series represents is GT racing at its most evocative, with Ferrari F40s going up against Bugatti EB110s, McLaren F1 GTRs, Toyota Supra GT-LMs and Jaguar XJ220s. It also represents something of a missed trick for racing games. Not since Papyrus’ legendary Grand Prix Legends has a game gone out of its way to present period-correct action, and how much fun it’d be to see motorsport at its 90s best played out on modern technology.
Because it’s about time really, isn’t it? Yes, I know there’s a game imminent, but until we know much more the pang in my heart for some proper door-to-door racing in the world’s liveliest, most raucous and action-packed series remains unsatiated. The BTCC, in its current format, is ideal pickings for video games, it’s topsy-turvy grids, bunched-up packs and no-holds-barred racing the perfect mixing pot.
What’s remarkable is how well Codemasters got all that down the first time around with the much-loved TOCA series – and not only that, the supporting race day cast of Formula Fords and Fiestas got their fair share of love too. All that delivered with high fidelity and modern technology? You’ll excuse me if I get a little overexcited at the prospect of all that.
With the LMP1 era coming to a close WEC is about to go through something of a transition period, but the endgame is tantalising: a global sportscar platform that will see parity between IMSA and WEC, opening up some of the world’s most storied races – the 24 hours of Le Mans, the 24 hours of Daytona plus the 12 Hours of Sebring and so much more – to a broad and brilliant pack of racers.
Even before we get to that point, the multi-class racing that the WEC provides – where GTE machines share the track with LMP2s and the top flight sportscars – with its multiple technologies, and multiple levels of driver skill, have made for some of the best racing action of the last decade. Melbourne House’s Le Mans 24 Hours proved how well it could all work at the turn of the century. 20 years later, surely it’s time for someone else to have a crack.
What do you reckon? Any other racing series you’d like to see their own racing game in the near future? Let us know on social media!