|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2006)|
- This is about a NASCAR computer game. For the series, see NASCAR
|Developer(s)||Papyrus Design Group|
|Publisher(s)||Papyrus Design Group, Sierra|
|Designer(s)||Adam Levesque, John Wheeler, David Kaemmer|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer using modem|
|Distribution||CD-ROM or floppy disk|
The NASCAR Racing series of video games, developed by Papyrus, started in 1994 and ended with the release of NASCAR Racing 2003 Season in 2003. Later NASCAR games were released by Electronic Arts who, through their EA Sports brand, took over the official NASCAR license. This article deals with the original series release, NASCAR Racing.
NASCAR Racing was released in the fall of 1994 for MS-DOS personal computers. It featured more than 25 of the 40 regular drivers in the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Notable absences included Dale Earnhardt (who would go on to win the Winston Cup that year), Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Darrell Waltrip, although the latter's brother, Michael, was included.
The game let the player race with up to 38 other cars (32 on shorter tracks like Bristol and Martinsville) and it also offered multiplayer action via direct links (one computer connected to another via a LAN) and also through an online system owned by Papyrus called Hawaii.
The CD-ROM version of the game also offered a SVGA graphics mode which was accessible through the command prompt (by entering "nascar -h"), but it was too demanding for many of the computers of its age, mostly 486 and early Pentium PCs. A hardware accelerated version was later created and bundled with the Matrox Millennium video card.
NASCAR Racing included the following tracks:
- Atlanta Motor Speedway
- Bristol Motor Speedway
- Darlington Raceway
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
- Martinsville Speedway
- Michigan International Speedway
- Phoenix International Raceway
- Talladega Superspeedway
- Watkins Glen International
Track Expansion Pack
A track expansion pack, released in 1995, added many more officially licensed tracks, including:
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Dover Downs (now Dover International Speedway)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway
- Pocono Raceway
- Richmond International Raceway
- Rockingham Speedway
- Sears Point (now Sonoma Raceway)
Papyrus did produce a Daytona track only for use exclusively at a fan simulation game at the Daytona USA museum.
Damage was realistically modeled, but could be turned off to make the player's car indestructible. The effect of crashes varies depending on severity. Very minor impacts have no effect. Heavier impacts can cause sheet metal damage, which hurts aerodynamics and may cause engine overheating. A crumpled hood can also make it difficult for the player to see the track. Heavy impacts will damage a wheel or even blow the engine. Damage can be repaired in the pit stop, except for blown engines which are not repairable. Damaged sheet metal is removed, making for an imperfect repair with impaired aerodynamics.
The vehicle's sensitivity to crash impacts was increased in a patch to the game. In the readme file attached to this patch, Papyrus explained that the primary motivation for this change was multiplayer mode, where violent players had previously been able to achieve faster lap times by deliberately hitting walls.
Repairs require a considerable amount of time (generally 1 minute or longer) to complete. This combined with the impaired performance means that damaged vehicles will not contend for a high finish, but can still race for points which accumulate in the season standings. This game uses a scoring system similar to what NASCAR was using at the time, where all finishing positions earn a varying number of points.
The engine will fail if over-revved, and it can also fail from overheating (but such a scenario is rare).
Yellow flags could also be turned off and players could run any race distances of their choosing. The speed of computer opponents is also adjustable, providing a competitive race for players of varying skill levels.
As previously noted, the game contained many real-life drivers. This was in stark contrast to early releases, which usually featured a single real-life personality and a bevy of fictional drivers. The game was also the first stock car racing simulator to include real sponsors on their respective cars. Alcohol and tobacco sponsors were removed, but alternate carsets from fans restored many of these.
NASCAR Racing also gave players the ability to set up their car in a realistic manner, be it adjusting the airdam height, rear spoiler angle, gear ratios, shocks, tire pressures, cambers and more. The original game manual explains the effect of these parameters.
Driving physics are realistically modeled in the game. The adjustable variables have a significant effect on handling, and the tires themselves will grip differently depending on wear and temperature.
Tires are modeled in much detail. The game keeps track of 3 temperatures for each tire, reflecting temperatures at the center, inner, and outer edges. Numerous variables can influence tire temperatures. For example, an underinflated tire will tend to heat more at the edges rather than the center. An incorrect camber setting can cause one edge to heat more than the other. Temperatures are also influenced by many other factors such as weight distribution, toe-in, driver behavior, and the cornering characteristics of the race track. Tires in the game perform optimally at elevated temperatures, but if they heat excessively this effect is lost. The player can view current tire temperatures using an in-game keyboard command.
Dedicated players can spend a great deal of time optimizing the car's setup to perform at its best on a particular race track. This testing process is normally performed using the game's Practice or Testing modes. The player's setup can be saved to disk for future recall, and the game also provides a few prefabricated setups for each track.
Vehicles cannot lift into the air. The graphics system always renders them with all 4 wheels on the ground, although the physics system may attribute wheels with varying amounts of downforce (potentially resulting in no traction).
The Doppler effect is simulated. Vehicles approaching at high relative speed will emit a higher frequency engine sound, which will shift to a lower frequency as they pass.
A separate program called the Paintkit was included with NASCAR Racing, which allowed users to design their own race cars and import them into the game. As well as this, players could change the car type (Chevrolet Lumina, Ford Thunderbird or Pontiac Grand Prix) and the brand of tires used (Goodyear or Hoosier).
Former racer-turned-broadcaster, Ned Jarrett loaned his voice to the game's title sequence, saying, "I'm Ned Jarrett. From Papyrus, this is NASCAR Racing." These were the only spoken words heard in the game as there was no in-race commentary or communication from the crew chief.
Several mods were made available through various websites, including updated NASCAR seasons and car shapes, the Rolex 24 Hour cars (with 3 car shapes), classic NASCAR seasons, Touring Cars and more.
Users created versions of Daytona Int'l Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway - edited from versions produced by Papyrus for later NASCAR Racing releases such as NASCAR 3 - for use in NASCAR 2.
Numerous utilities were developed for NASCAR Racing too, including AI editors, season editors and track editors.