Motor racing board games reviews

If you know of any other games, please let me know - and if possible supply a short review. You're welcome to add to, or challenge anything in, these reviews.

The games

The reviews

Waddington's Formula 1

Review: Dave Budd
2-6 players
Waddington's Formula 1 is, arguably, the benchmark against which all other motor racing board games must be measured. The reason is simple: skill is the predominant factor, while luck plays a just big enough part that the outcome is not entirely certain.
The central idea that makes the game worthwhile is that movement is fully under player control: the dice do not determine how many spaces you move. Each player gets a car; a dashboard with speedo, lap counter, and tyre and brake wear meters; and a number of 'tactic cards' which gain extra spaces: not enough to make luck in the shuffle excessive. The track is divided into spaces, and a car moves 1 space for every 20mph of its speed: at each turn a car may change speed within defined limits. The bends have maximum safe speeds posted, but these may be exceeded if a player wishes to risk a penalty determined by throwing two dice. Using 2 dice is a masterstroke (in comparison to other games) as it gives a non-uniform distribution of the various penalties, so that the severe ones are made less likely. The exact positioning of the bends was obviously worked out carefully since typical racing speeds always involve tough decisions about braking points and safety speeds, balancing wear penalties against loss of position. Pit stops allow tyres and brakes to be replaced but you risk a slow stop. A major feature with some players is baulking: most bends are only 2 lanes wide, so ending your move on one can force an opponent down the slower inside lane or even make him/her lose some of his/her turn. Typically, you plan about 3 turns ahead, modifying the plan as you see what happens to the other drivers.
Various modifications to the rules exist, and with few players (or more than 1 game set), people often play teams of cars.
I never understood why they stopped making this game: if you ever see it anywhere, buy it.

Parker Bothers used to do a game called Grand Prix back in the 60s: Scott Enderle tells me it was so similar to Waddington's Formula 1 that it's likely they bought the rights and just changed a few details.

Avalon Hill's Speed Circuit

Review: Dave Budd
2-6 players
Speed Circuit is, so far, the only game I have which compares well with Waddington's Formula 1. Guess what? It's also the only other one I have that leaves the car speed entirely under player control. In fact this game is very like Formula 1, but with no pit stops or tactic cards, and more dangerous bends: the penalty distribution is flat and includes an 'out of race'. The major difference is that you get to set up your car, spreading setup points across top speed, acceleration and braking capability, and wear points. The other significant difference is that the cars move in track order not in strict player rotation, and here's the cruncher: each player writes down his chosen speed before anybody moves, and if it turns out you don't have room to go the speed you chose..... I think of this as a more austere version of Formula 1 for people who want a skill-only game. It comes with 3 circuits (overprinted on the one board) and further circuits were (are?) available. You could fairly easily use these circuits to play Formula 1, or use Formula 1's circuit to play this game. The cars aren't very pretty but you can always use some from some other game!
I'd recommend buying this.

Scott Enderle tells me that this was originally by 3M, which was bought by Avalon Hill.

Waddington's Grand Prix

Review: Dave Budd
2-6 players, age 8+ 1983
Waddington's replaced Formula 1 with this. Why? It's a move-by-dice game! OK you get 'fuel points' you can use to adjust the dice throw, but.... The track is entirely made up of straights connected by 90 degree bends, the whole thing being marked out in squares: it's all 3 or 4 squares wide, you can turn by 45 degrees per square after the first of any move, and this determines the lines you take round the bends. Most of the track edges cause the tyres on that side to wear, and pit stops allow refueling and new tyres. The only other excitement is that if the race leader lands on certain squares he/she can position a couple of oil spots to upset opponents: slightly silly?
The game is just about playable but isn't really going to appeal to anyone who's experienced the strategic and tactical considerations necessary in Formula 1 or Speed Circuit. Not only that, but: the cars supplied have their wings exagerated to make them easy to handle but it completely ruins their appearance; and the pop-o-matic dice is hideous.
Verdict: Ok for kids.

CPag's Grand Prix Championship

Review: Dave Budd
2-6 players 1992
I haven't played this yet, so this is a description rather than a review.
Each player gets 2 cars, and they're pretty good: 5.5x3 cm, wheels that turn, not all cloned from one mould. It's a move-by-dice game with the die modified by cards you must pick up whenever you overtake an opponent on a bend. Mods include extra/lost spaces/turns, enforced/cancelled pitstops, retirement, or (many) no changes. Some of those mods are whole positions rather than spaces - it must start getting a bit random and skill-less. The lap is 39 spaces long and the track is only 1 space wide with only 2 cars allowed per space so there's going to be lots of blocking: however it is obviously a 'ladder' game and not one where skill predominates over other factors to any great extent. One of the cards takes out the car you're overtaking as well as yours! A couple force a race restart.... You can forego part of your move by declining to overtake in some situations, to avoid picking up a card. A few spaces on the straights have optional card pickup as well.
Shame there's not a big skill factor, because those cars are really nice.

Piatnik's Pole Position

Review: Dave Budd
3-5 players, age8+ 1990
Another I bought just because of the motor racing theme and haven't yet's a 'ladder' game, but not a move-by-dice game, which could well be an interesting combination. The track comprises a series of spaces which are filled randomly with a set of inserts before the game: these give the usual ladder game adjustments like 'move back one space' etc. Each player gets 3 cars and identical sets of 'fuel cards' which state how many spaces your car moves - but everybody plays their card face down so that you don't get to see what happens to everybody else before playing. I have a feeling this one could be a good laugh, but I wouldn't like to judge how much skill matters to success.

MB's Turbo

Review: Dave Budd
2-4 players, age 7-14 1983
MB tried to overcome the lack of skill in a move-by-dice game by having 2 dice, with the player choosing which to use for his/her car. They put in some very good looking cars. Then they got silly and decided the other dice must be used to move an opponent's car ambulance. WHAT??? Then they got completely out of control and added not only oil patches which cause your car to turn by 90 degrees, but also an ICE FIELD!!! in which your opponents can use that second dice to move you backwards. Mad. Oh, and in case somebody took out a patent on dice, they use spinners. Apart from a bit of chicane, the track is never less than 3 spaces wide, and with only 4 players, there isn't going to be any blocking, although just to complete the madness they include a bunch of grey cars which are left stationary at specific points on the track. They were right to specify an upper age limit, but they may have set it too high.....
Very nice cars though, and they're just the right size for Formula 1 or Speed Circuit....

Crestline's Super Speedway

Review: Dave Budd
2 players
This is actually a pocket game in a plastic box. It's a very simple Indy style track on which you move a peg from hole to hole:- 7 per lap. Each player sticks to their own lane and has their own die which gives one of +1,+2,+3,-1,PIT,MISS. If in the pit, you use a pit die to decide whether or not you come out or stay there awhile.
It was just about worth the 10p it cost me in a jumble sale.

Philmar's Grand Prix

Review: Dave Budd
2-4 players
A small boxed game which cost me 50p in a sale somewhere, and is worth about a fifth of that. It's just snakes'n'ladders with a car motif. 4 coloured counters, not even pictures of cars or anything, and a die. The box is handy for keeping things in, I suppose.

Domark's Williams Renault Grand Prix Championship Game

1-6 players, age 7+ 1994

Review by Nigel Buckle

Lionel Games' Grand Prix Manager

Carl Schnurr tells me he's heard good things about this, but that's the sum of the info available to me.

Ludoliere's Formula De

Review: Carl Schnurr
A French game available in other countries. Large beautiful maps: comes with Monaco, others available (Spa, Magny-Cours, Monza, Hockenheim, and Portugal at time of writing). Maps are about 1m by 75cm. Car has stats for brakes, tyres, gear wear, engine, handling. Cars have 6 gears. Car moves spaces determined by 20 sided die and gear, read from a table. Eg in 1st gear, 1 or 2 spaces; in 2nd, 2-4 spaces; in 6th, 21-30 spaces. You are forced to slow down for bends by having to end your turn a certain number of times in the bend, more in tighter bends, and taking wear if you overshoot. Gear wear and engine points allow downshifting more than 1 gear per move.

MB's Daytona 500

Review: Carl Schnurr
Evidently it was originally a German game called Formel Eins. Everyone's dealt a hand of cards. Each card says something like "Move Red 6, blue 4, and Yellow 2", or "Move Green 5". You look at your hand and bid on "owning" certain colored cars for the race using money. Then you race, each person laying down a card each turn and moving the cars indicated. One lap to the finish, collect your money for your rank, and repeat twice more for a game. Plays in about 1.5 hours and is quite fun, even though it's simple. Quite popular here with my gaming group.

Amigo Spiele's Ausgebremst

Review: Steve Thomas (
It's a reworking of Ave Caesar. Players get a set of cards adding up to enough movement to get round the track with one or two points to spare; the exact mix of cards is choosable by the player. Players divide their cards into 4 piles, then pick two cards from any piles. Each turn you play one card, moving that many spaces forward, and pick up a replacement. The track (there are 8 supplied with the game) is mostly 2 spaces wide. Most of the bends are a bit longer on the outside than the inside. There are some chicanes one space wide. You're not allowed to play a "6" (the biggest card) if you're in the lead. You can stop in the pits to get an extra card or two, but getting baulked in the pit lane is very easy. You must play a card if you can, but may not play a card which will cause you to hit another car (and so if all your cards would do so, you lose a go). Quite fun, though a complete set of races takes over 3 hours, which is a bit long for what it is.

Avalon Hill's Le Mans

Review: Scott Enderle ( This game came out about 1968 and had poor graphics with almost no colour. You chose a car from a set of cards that had predefined characteristics, and the game had 2 tracks. A generally good game with the feature that makes Speed Circuit and Formula 1 so playable: you control the speed yourself and only use the die in emergencies.