Buckle up readers; it’s time to take a look at the best PS1 racing games of all time!
Sony released some absolute belters back when their maiden console was all the rage, including some of the most exciting racing games ever.
Without some of the titles in this list, we’d never have some of our favourite series or classic experiences that defined our gaming lives…
… or fulfilled childhood fantasies about riding hover bikes…
With 8-player multiplayer on some games thanks to the genius of multitap, the PS1 brought couch-co-op action like we’d never seen before. It made for the ultimate birthday party machine, coaxing friends round that would inevitably beat you on every single game…
Still, which are the best PS1 racing games to play on your birthday or any other day of the year? Which racing games made the biggest impact, and which ones are still classics that we love to play today?
Put the pedal to the metal and check out Number 15 below!
Table of Contents
Jet Moto 2 kickstarts this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time, and what better way to do it than with hover bikes!
I’m not gonna lie; I’ve always wanted a hover bike. Jet Moto 2 was the closest I ever came to one, however (apart from Jet Moto 1, of course), giving me the ability to hover over land and sea on a sponsored bike that knew no bounds.
Like the next game in out list, Jet Moto 2 boasted some fantastic locations too. We’re talking roller coasters, deserts, mountains, and more!
Ok, so it’s not the most believable of premises, but it still looks awesome. And besides, when did we start playing video games because they’re believable?
Fans of the first Jet Moto will notice instantly that this is a much harder game. The CPU is impossible to beat, so anyone that’s managed to finish this game deserves a medal.
Also, with less players comes a faster framerate and an improved gaming experience with less lag and more zooming.
Listen, it’s not Wipeout, but it’s still a cracking game!
Hydro Thunder takes the 14th spot in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time, bringing all the thrills and spills of games like F-Zero X and Fast RMX to the water.
One thing I need to talk about first is the epic levels on this game. I think having the ability to race on water really opens up the possibilities of where players can go and what they can do.
For starters, the tracks often feel wider, and the unmanned boats (totally not dangerous…) go so fast that players often fly through the air for long periods of time, boosting up ramps and spinning over obstacles.
Players have the chance to race across a flooded version of New York, through mountainous regions, and even around the Arctic Circle.
Imagine a speed boat zooming along underneath the Aurora Borealis!
Hydro Thunder was a classic on every console, but it’s definitely one of the best PS1 racing games I have in my collection. It never fails to bring a smile whenever I play with friends or load it up in the Retro Dodo office, and the unlockable bonus content should keep you occupied for a good long while!
Rollcage is up next, a title that fans of insane racing action will be more than ready for…
… that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
As racing games go, this one is pretty unique. For starters, there’s only 6 racers in every competition. There are weapons to fire at enemies, and the levels all have a bit of a underground-grungy vibe.
Oh, and the cars flip over, allowing gamers to drive up walls and carry on speeding after crashes, which is pretty handy!
Probably should have led with that first…
Yes, this game is. so fast paced that even blasting an opponent into the air won’t stop them. No matter which way you land, there’s a surface that you can drive on, keeping gameplay flowing and 100% unpredictable.
There are lots of exciting cars to choose from too, but the main premise of each vehicle build is pretty much the same. The levels are very detailed for a game that’s 22-years-old at the time of writing too!
It goes without saying that the multiplayer mode is where it’s at in Rollcage. I’ve settled many arguments with friends in the Rollcage arena (not a real thing) and ended up winning a fair number of games too…
… ok, a couple, but that’s not important right now.
Driver takes the 12th spot in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time!
Ok, so it’s not exactly a traditional racing game, but there’s lots of racing against opponents as you reach specific locations as well as racing against the clock.
Essentially, it’s all the best car chases you’ve ever seen in any movie all rolled into one game, accompanied by speed, speed, and more speed.
Action/thriller fans will love the plot too. Players take control of John Tanner, an undercover cop who has infiltrated the inner circle of a notorious crime syndicate. He’s there to stop them getting up to shady stuff, but soon finds out about their plans to kill the President of the United States!
Driver is set in real locations in America. Race around L.A, San Fran, New York, and Miami, taking in the sights and trying to stop crime while you’re at it.
John Tanner is a racing driver turned cop, making him the perfect getaway driver. Keep the mob happy and hopefully they won’t suspect a thing about your true identity!
Listen, we all know Driver is a solid game. It’s legendary, in fact, not least for having Newcastle-Upon-Tyne as an unlockable zone.
New York to Newcastle… what a weird world!
Nascar Rumble is up next in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time!
Fans of American stock car racing should know all about this epic title already, but if you’re new to the sport, then get ready for the ride of your life.
Shooting over ramps and landing on freeways never felt so good. This is your chance to feel the rumble or a real stock car, blasting through 18 courses in branded vehicles that look just like the real thing.
The only difference is there’s no need to worry about the chance of death from crashing into something at high speeds!
How many times have you watched Nascar and wished that you could ride around in a bulldozer or a golf cart?
As I’ve said time and time again, collectibles and unlockable content make racing games 100% more appealing, and some of the wacky vehicles available on offer here still keep me entertained 21 years later!
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert or an absolute beginner, Nascar rumble has a difficulty level for everyone. And, with a solid two-player mode ready for you and a friend to put each others skills to the test, there really is no excuse not to grab a copy of this game!
RESPECT MY AUTHORATAYY! That’s right; South Park Rally takes the 10th spot in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time!
The best, and probably the only way I can describe this game to you, is by saying that this game is like Mario Kart, South Park style.
And, for fans of the TV show, the good news is that all of the original voice actors appear to bring your favourite characters to life. It’s like you’ve jumped straight into the cartoon for a slice of the action!
Pick from Stan, Kenny, Cartman, Kyle, and all the other members of the rude and crude gang.
Instead of the traditional cart, players race on everything from soap boxes to trikes, powering through snow-strewn streets and iconic locations from the TV show.
The four player mode is perfect for a bunch of mates that know this cartoon like the back of their hands. For anyone who has never watched South Park before, however, please be warned that it’s not for kids. I can’t stress that enough!
Twisted Metal 2 could well be the most brutal vehicular combat game ever made.
Yes, that’s a genre you didn’t even know existed! Imagine the battle mode in Mario Kart 64 and multiply it by 100, and you get an idea of how crazy this game is!
We’re talking Need for Speed on acid, an FPS game with American Monster Truck traits…
… sounds awesome, right?
The world is a bit of a mess in Twisted Metal 2, which accounts for why the rules seem to be so lapse around destroying both cars and people.
Unlike other games that might feature in the expansive F1 series, players don’t get points for driving well.
Smash stuff up, wreck everything, and break you opponents in half in order to win the game.
And, like everyone’s favourite Deathmatch game, Fortnite, there are no points that need to be collected or any tricks that give you the upper hand.
Stay alive and you win. Job done.
Weapons of all sizes are hidden away around each level, so make sure to explore properly and pick up some serious firepower. It’s one of the best multiplayer battles for smashing your mates into the dust too… which is what gaming is all about!
Hot Wheels Turbo Racing takes the 8th spot in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time!
I knew so many kids who loved Hot Wheels when I was younger. Now, those kids are adults with disposable incomes, and they still love Hot Wheels just as much.
If that description matches you, then this bonafide Hot Wheels racing game needs to be in your collection. all of your favourite cars are available to unlock and race with, creating the perfect setting for all those dream races you imagined back in the 90s.
Over 40 classic miniature vehicles are available to race with in this fast-paced, exciting racing title. There’s 11 tracks to play through, each with the trademark insane loops and dangerous stunts that, were these cars full sized, could cause some serious accidents!
‘How do you unlock them all?’ I hear you roaring like a kid on Christmas Day? Well, like super Smash Bros, new vehicles can be obtained by completing races or pulling off super-fancy moves during games.
Oh, and let’s not forget the absolutely awesome soundtrack. How many games can you rock out to Primus while racing classic toy cars!
It wouldn’t be a list of the best PS1 racing games if we didn’t have Gran Turismo featuring, would it?
There’s no doubt that Gran Turismo 2 was one of the best PS1 games ever made. Still, without the original title, the rest of this epic series would never even have existed.
Boasting 140 cars and some slick looking tracks, Gran Turismo could well be considered the grandparent of modern racing games. It boasted fantastic action from start to finish and is still one of my favourite multiplayer games to this day!
Of course, there’s an arcade version that you can just play for fun. But GT is all about the Simulation Mode.
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a professional racer? In Simulation Mode, players begin with a second-hand banger, competing in races and earning cash to buy better vehicles and race on better tracks.
From a Honda Prelude that’s on its last legs to a showstopping Dodge Viper, climb the racing ladder and prove that you’re the best!
Fully Loaded: Fully Loco – that’s Vigilante 8 in a nut shell!
Of course, I can’t just copy the writing off the box and leave this section there… mainly because I have a word count to meet.
How does one describe the madness of Vigilante 8 in one sentence? A hired terrorist tries to sabotage oil refineries in the US so an evil regime can become even richer, and a group of vigilantes do everything they can to stop it from happening.
Yeah, that about sums it up!
Set in a time where oil is scarce and the world is under the thumb of tycoons, a gang of vehicular vigilantes riding all manner of cars, buses and trucks souped up with insane weapons are the last line of defence.
Like Twisted Metal 2, it’s a car-based-combat game where the only really objective is to blow stuff up and try not to get totalled. Play through the story mode or go head-to-head, listening to your own CDs through the PS1 while driving around!
I’m a huge fan (that’s why it’s at Number 6), and I urge you all to join the madness. It’s time for some anarchy!
Wipeout 2097 takes the 5th spot in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time!
If you found yourself playing Star Wars Episode 1: Racer or F-Zero X and crying out for more, then you need this game in your life. It’s brimming with futuristic speeders and space-age tracks that look as though they’ve exploded out of a Tron film.
2097 is one of the most fast-paced and dangerous racing games ever. The weapons make mincemeat of fellow opponents, though I guess that’s got something to do with firepower being more readily available in the future…
… though don’t quote me on that!
Not only is taking damage unavoidable in this game, but it’s so inevitable that the developers created a damage bar. It’s the first Wipeout game to feature one and constantly draws your eye as you bang and scrape your way around each course.
To say that this game came out in 1996, the graphics are fantastic. The neon lights and grungy feel of each level create a kind of Altered Carbon feel, and the music never failed to get my blood pumping.
Seriously, this game didn’t get 5/5 from critics because they thought it was just ‘alright’. It’s a work of art, a classic racing title that fans of both serious and cutesy gamers will undoubtedly love.
V Rally 2: Need For Speed, sometimes known as V-Rally Championship Edition 2, is up next in our comprehensive list of the best PS1 racing games.
I’ve seen this game written down so many different ways, so if you call it Need for Speed: V-Rally 2, then you don’t need to email me and let me know – we’re all on the same page.
Dirt Rally fans will be all over this epic title. It’s the sequel to V-Rally: Need for Speed (or Need for Speed: V-Rally), boasting 84 tracks of dirt-racing brilliance.
That’s 84 different times you can show your mates who is the real rally champion/genius.
One of the most interesting features in this game is the track editor. It gives users a chance to show off their skills by adapting the set up of each level. Inclines can be adjusted, corners can be mirrored and the whole track can be turned on its head.
We should probably talk about the cars too. Fancy driving a Subaru Impreza or a Toyota Corolla? Ok… nobody said that they were ever going to be pretty! Don’t forget this is Rally Driving and not Formula 1!
Compete in championships or four-way battles with your friends. There are endurance modes for hardy players and points based rounds for gamers that know the tracks better than they know their own families.
Give V-Rally 2 a go; you won’t be disappointed!
Gran Turismo 2 takes the bronze medal in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time. Selling approximately 10 million copies the world over, it’s undoubtedly one of the most successful racing games ever made.
Heck, you could say it’s the one racing game to rule them all… but there’s still two titles that I prefer more!
With a whopping 27 tracks to choose from, there’s plenty of different surfaces to skid on and scenic locations to blast through.
Still, that’s not the best part…
GT2 has 650 different cars for players to choose from! That’s crazy for any game, never mind one from 1999!
Yes, Gran Turismo 2 had the biggest number of cars, classic and modern, available to race with out of any game back on its release. Just think about the replay factor; replaying each level with 649 other cars made the game last forever!
GT2 is loved by pretty much everyone. Play in tournaments, challenge your friends, and find out why its average score from the critics was an impressive 9.8/10.
Many have tried to take Nintendo’s crown by toppling Mario Kart off it’s pedestal, but none have come quite as close as Crash Team Racing. It’s the only other karting game that provides any kind of competition for Mazza and his pals, boasting mad multiplayer action with 15 famous faces.
All the regulars from Crash to Dr Neo Cortex appear as playable characters, with a few hidden racers thrown in for good measure…
In terms of gameplay, CTR is very similar to the world-famous moustachioed marvel’s racing game. Use weapons to stop your opponents, collect apples, and bash through Crash’s trademark crates.
With five gameplay modes to tackle, there’s plenty for players to get stuck into, racing around themed tracks from Crash’s early adventures along the way. Have a bash at Arcade mode, or try your hand in the Adventure or Battle arena!
And just to make sure we don’t leave the other two out, you can play Time Trail or Versus too!
As with any good game, unlockable content appears throughout. Points mean prizes, so winning those races is crucial!
Crash Team Racing is fast, furious, and furry. It’s a gnarly racer that boasts some stunning level design and weapons. I still wish I had an invincible Aku Aku mask to this day!
Colin McRae Rally is the best PS1 racing game of all time.
There, I said it; the truth is out.
Named after the legendary late Colin McRae, this game is a rally driving fan’s best friend. It’s got everything; epic locations, beautiful roads, and superb cars that can seriously take a beating.
With a LAN multiplayer offering gameplay for up to 8 people and a standard split-screen mode providing quick head-to-head races, Colin McRae Rally is our go-to-game for PS1 multiplayer action.
Use all of the original cars and play the actual rallies from the 1998 world championship. Colin Mcrae lends his voice to the title too; it’s basically the Tony Hawks Pro Skater of Rally Driving, which is a huge deal!
In my humble opinion, there isn’t a rally game like it. Driving through Australia or Corsica in classic rally cars while checking out the impressive virtual scenery is just as exciting in 2021 as it was back in the year 2000.
Yes, Colin McRare Rally takes the 1st place in this list of the best PS1 racing games of all time, and I can’t think of a worthier winner!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.