10 Best PS1 Racing Games for Fast-Pace Action

At a time when video games were becoming increasingly complex, the best PS1 racing games remained incredibly accessible. Everyone understood their premise — it was a simple competition to the finish line, with few convoluted mechanics mucking up the interface. Whether you were a newbie or an Atari 2600 OG, PS1 racers offered fast-pace action and engine-revving excitement for all.

Today we’ll be talking about 10 of the top racing games from Sony’s 90s-era console. I’ve attempted to include a variety of titles, ranging from kart racers to real simulators, so you’re not stuck with a list of 10 arcade-like games without much substance. The goal is to provide a rich resource full of excellent games and little bias.

Sound like a plan? It’s your move — take the wheel, and let’s steer straight into the list!

10 Best PS1 Racing Games

Start your engines! Beginning at #10, let’s speed our way down to the best of the best PS1 racing games.

10. 007 Racing

007 Racing - #10 Best PS1 Racing Games
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Eutechnyx
  • Release Year: 2000 

It may be far from the prettiest looking game you’ll find on the original PlayStation (or most consoles for that matter), but this James Bond themed spin-off was, in fact, a stellar racing title. It was also quite unique, incorporating missions and objectives rather than the usual rally or street racing.

Play as 007 himself, embarking on driving-based missions that take you across various environments. Rescue captured agents, outgun overhead helicopters, and defuse bombs — it’s a day in the life of England’s most daring agent. 

You’ll have to collect weapon pick-ups like missiles, lasers, and EMPs to take out special targets such as aircraft, big rigs, and tanks. You can also gain access to a number of iconic Bond vehicles and trademark gadgets like smokescreens and caltrops.

007 Racing has a variety of missions that all take on different standard objective archetypes. While it may not be the most titillating title on this list of best PS1 racing games, it does offer a diverse menu of options beyond standard sprint or circuit racing.

9. Dare Devil Derby 3D

Dare Devil Derby 3D
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Supersonic Software
  • Release Year: 1996

Dare Devil Derby 3D, known as Supersonic Racers in Europe, takes inspiration from Micro Machines (one of the top racing franchises from the era) with its wacky vehicles, zany characters, and frenetic tracks. And it’s just as fun to play!

The game features caricatures of different character stereotypes, each with their own unique vehicle, and it offers multiple modes that put your driving skills to the test. And believe me — it will certainly test you, as the CPUs’ skill coupled with the tricky tracks and bumper-car physics are a true challenge to overcome.

Tracks take place on land, sea, and air, as well as on ice. This gives you different vehicles like airships and cars, alongside novel add-ons like skis, that make subtle changes to handling controls to keep you on your toes.

The variety in DDD certainly adds a lot of life to the game, and the steep right angle of a difficulty curve means it’ll take you several attempts to master the courses and conquer the AI. Add in the game’s multiplayer aspect, and it can entertain you and your friends for hours.

8. Colin McRae Rally 2.0

Colin McRae Rally 2.0
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Release Year: 2000

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 makes it to our list of best PS1 racing games for multiple reasons. The first is that the late Colin McRae had a strong lineage of games, all with top-gear mechanics. I also couldn’t not include a rally driving game on this list. Throw those both together, and you get Colin McRae Rally 2.0 at the #8 spot!

CMR2.0 shined through with its attention to detail, its commitment to realism, and the mechanical improvements made from its prequel. Making a sequel to any form of media is certainly no easy feat, especially when your original work was praised highly.

Featuring several painstakingly-modeled real-life vehicles like the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO and Subaru Impreza, as well as vintage cars from the 1960s and 1970s, this rally racer was absolutely made for car enthusiasts (though it opened the door to less experienced players as well).

All in all, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 makes all the right racing moves and should be good fun for rally and non-rally fans alike.

7. Twisted Metal 2

Twisted Metal 2
  • Genre: Vehicular Combat
  • Developer: Sony Interactive Studios / SingleTrac
  • Release Year: 1996

Twisted Metal 2 takes the premise of destruction derby and cranks the destruction, violence, and mayhem up to eleven. Your sole purpose is to eradicate your fellow drivers in as many cruel and unusual ways as inhumanly possible!

Also known as Twisted Metal: World Tour and Twisted Metal EX, this game takes place one year after the first game in the series. Once again, the madman Calypso is holding a Twisted Metal tournament! Now, players must pick their character and wage war on the other combatants to gain the ultimate prize of a single wish from the demonic sorcerer himself.

The game features the same brutal vehicular carnage as the prequel, while expanding on the first game’s shortcomings. More intricately and thoughtfully designed levels, more stylized and nuanced drivers, and a stellar multiplayer mode all combined to make Twisted Metal 2 a real classic.

Overall, TM2 was dark, sadistic, and downright fun. An easy addition to this list of best PS1 racing games.

6. Driver 

  • Genre: Driving // Action
  • Developer: Reflections Interactive
  • Release Year: 1999

Okay, so the placement of this title on our list of best PS1 racing games may be slightly controversial. I suppose I’m exposing some personal bias (hey, I’m only human) in that I don’t particularly enjoy the game Driver. But I do realize that it’s a fan favorite from that era — one that maintains a cult following to this very day!

With my own memories and feelings set to one side, I concede that Driver did a great job giving you an open world to explore. It was also the closest one could get to owning a playable detective experience that brought together the real feeling of classic car movies of the 60s & 70s, including legendary films like The Italian Job, Bullitt, The French Connection, and of course, The Driver.

By placing you in the shoes of detective John Tanner, you pose undercover as a getaway driver for a crime syndicate and attempt to sabotage a plot to assassinate the President of the United States. 

Driver struck an outstanding balance between gameplay action and narrative, thanks to its many environments and well-thought-out missions that keep you on your toes.

It’s definitely a top contender on this list, but it doesn’t quite crack the top 5. Sorry, folks.

5. Micro Machines V3

Micro Machines V3 - #5 Best PS1 Racing Games
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Release Year: 1997

Following the success of previous games in the franchise, Micro Machines V3 retains the prestigious mantle of the charming tiny racer, adding more tasty ingredients and complimentary garnish to its already succulent recipe.

Developed by veterans of the genre, Codemasters, Micro Machines fully embraces its silliness, even down to its cute menu system where you drive between different garages and face different pathways to each mode. 

In terms of gameplays, MMV3’s tracks all have the quintessential MM vibe. Map designs range from racing across pool tables and workshop tool benches to leaping over cereal boxes on ramps made of cheese.

The cars don’t fail to disappoint, and there’s an array of vehicles like dump trucks, buggies, and powerboats, some of which have their own quirks like the tanks that can fire explosive ordnance. Power-ups also exist, but these are often placed off the main path and are a gamble to go for.

Micro Machines’ many modes, palpable character, and sheer degree of difficulty will keep players coming back for more time after time. Be warned however. As with other racing games, the multiplayer mode may cause shattered friendships.

4. Wipeout 3

Wipeout 3
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Psygnosis
  • Release Year: 1999

Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s F-ZeroWipeout (as an overall series) gave the PlayStation something that fans didn’t know it needed. But once players saw it, they couldn’t get enough.

Gifted the torch from Wipeout 2097 (since Wipeout 64 was a Nintendo 64 exclusive), this high octane and boisterous space racer took the series to new heights. In Wipeout 3, players can compete in single standard races, time trials, tournaments, challenge, and eliminator modes. A little something for everyone.

From the time you first lay eyes on the title screen, Wipeout 3 radiates pangs of cyberpunk (not that kind of cyberpunk) in all the right ways, something that’s perfectly encapsulated in the words “WIPEOUT THREE TITLE SCREEN.”

Wipeout created its own niche, and filled that niche with anti-gravity spaceships that fly around courses at hundreds of miles per hour. I won’t insult you by explaining why that makes it one of the best PlayStation racing games.

3. Gran Turismo 2

Gran Turismo 2
  • Genre: Racing // Simulation
  • Developer: Polyphony Digital
  • Release Year: 1999

The most popular simulation racing game on the platform, Gran Turismo 2 marks where the men are separated from, well, the other men who can’t drive cars as well as they can.

Despite the game’s stellar Arcade mode, the most prominent and brightest feather in Gran Turismo’s plumage was its Simulation mode. This thoughtful addition made you work for practically everything as you slowly grafted your way up the ladder of rewards, à la real life.

This racer is also known for its precise controls that may gate out newer players looking for an easier time. Unlike most entries on this list of best PSX racing games, cars in this game take visible and realistic damage, which affects the car’s overall performance. Furthermore, GT2 has an insane number of vehicles available to learn and play, with over 650 cars making up the roster.

Gran Turismo was Forza Motorsport before there was such a thing. It was made with the purists in mind. It was made for those that wanted the satisfaction of changing gears at just the right moment, for the gearheads that wanted to drift elegantly, for the adrenaline junkies who wanted to win a race by mere millimeters.

2. Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Namco
  • Release Year: 1994

Ported over from its original arcade roots, Ridge Racer landed on the PlayStation One and quickly became a hit with fans and critics. This was largely thanks to its fantastic controls, great tracks, and no-nonsense, focused gameplay that genuinely exemplified the real spirit of racing games.

Ridge Racer doesn’t come with that many bells and whistles; it’s all about the thrill of the race, and it’s unapologetic in taking that stance. You pick a car, a transmission, a difficulty, and you’re away. Despite this linear approach, none of the fun is lost as the courses are detailed, the music is great, and the announcer feels like your own personal cheerleader.

Despite keeping a vast majority of its arcade-intended design and infrastructure, I believe Ridge Racer won people over mainly because of this. From the moment you insert the disc into your console, you’d be revving at the start line in just a couple minutes — the fluidity of the menus streamlined to get you on the asphalt as soon as possible. It wasn’t the prettiest, it wasn’t the deepest, but it was a damn good racing game that anyone and everyone could enjoy.

It also gets tremendous bonus points for letting you play Galaxian while the game is loading. I’d stop complaining about load times tomorrow if you could play Asteroids or Frogger while you waited!

1. Crash Team Racing

Crash Team Racing - #1 Best PS1 Racing Games
  • Genre: Racing
  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Release Year: 1999

At #1 on our list of best PS1 racing games is Crash Team Racing, the best kart racer after Mario Kart

In this legendary title, Crash Bandicoot’s mainline series is transplanted (with the same level of pedigree, I might add) into a title of epic proportions!

The newly introduced villain, Nitrous Oxide, challenges any Earthling to beat him in a race. If he wins, he will enslave the planet and turn it into a parking lot. If he is defeated, he will return to his homeworld. The stakes are high — are you up for the challenge?

Crash Team Racing’s controls are responsive and tight, and the track designs are all faithful renditions of familiar locations and worlds featured in other Crash games. The mini-boost mechanics skyrockets the possible skill ceiling, and the numerous multiplayer modes give the versus aspects of the game a razor-sharp arrow in its quiver.

While Crash Team Racing could’ve easily been chastised as a clone of Nintendo’s kart series (simply with a different cast of characters), Naughty Dog went above and beyond. They incorporated innovative new mechanics like an Adventure mode and additional race types that stuck with the axioms of Crash’s platforming games.

The development team’s care and thoughtfulness reverberate throughout the game, an engine that continues to go strong well into its third decade of life.