Grand Prix Circuit

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Grand Prix Circuit
Title screen from the game
Game No. 438
Developer Kevin P. Pickell, Frank Barchard
Company Distinctive Software
Publisher Accolade
Musician Krisjan Hatlelid
Release 1988
Platform C64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, IBM PC
Genre Racing, Formula One
Gamemode Single player
Operation {{{Width}}}{{{Width}}} C64-icon.png
Media Icon disk525.pngTape-icon.png
Language Language:english


Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
8.30 points at 40 votes (rank 53).
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
C64Games 10 18th July 2010 - "highlight" 12002 downs
Lemon64 8,3 18th July 2010 - 104 votes 8,3 18th July 2010 - 17 votes
ZZap64 79% Issue 4/89


Grand Prix Circuit is a F1 racing simulation by Distinctive Software, which was sold by Accolade. It is the logical step between Test Drive and Test Drive II.

The game has a certain degree of reality. If you want to win, you will not be able to avoid lots of practice before the first race. The car is hard to steer, acts relative realistically and instantly punishes every mistake. Barging against something is instantly redeemed by the car with a damage bar above the steering wheel. When the bar is full, then you have scrapped the car and the race is over. You notice driving mistakes when the car pirouettes or simply slides into the green area due to too high speed. At the beginning of a race this quickly leads to a collision which hardly leaves any space for further mistakes, if you make it without scrapping the car. Each meter ouside the track is also added to the damage bar.

For the first familiarisation you should drive the single races in Italy with the Ferrari or the Williams.


The main menu

The design is utterly modern for a C64 game, the menus are graphically very well done and resemble the modern menus of console games. They are accompanied by poppy music. The design is the consistent refinement of Test Drive and was later taken over by Test Drive II which was also made by Distinctive Software. The elaborate design, however needs to be exchanged for long loading times. During loading a stopwatch or a loading bar appears.

When you are in a menu and you do not make an action within 20 seconds the game autonomously switches to a demo mode. Ending the demo mode is again connected with loading time, which causes a certain amount of frustration.

Choosing a vehicle[edit]

Choosing a vehicle

Before each race you can choose a Formula 1 fastcar. You can choose between 3 fastcars by the top teams at that time, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren. Each car has its own performance data as chassis model, engine revolution speed, gear shift, tire producer and weight; these are given in a list. Performance (HP/PS) and torque surge (Torque/Nm) are shown graphically depending on the rev speed.

After deciding for a car, you will see an animation in which the chosen car drives off. This animation resembles the one in the game Test Drive. On the track itself are the cockpits very similar and only differ in colour and the arrangement of the displays.

Qualifying and racing for a good time[edit]

Qualifying racing for a good time

In the main menu you can decide whether you want to drive for a good time, a single race or a whole season. When driving for a good time you can start directly. In a real race you first need to drive a qualification round. You accelerate with pushing the joystick upwards and you break with pulling it downwards. The change gears you use the fire button.

The loading screen[edit]

The loading screen

To continue successful seasons, you can save, load or continue after choosing the car. This is very helpful if you have just messed up the last race or if you simply want to go on playing one day later. Conveniently you also get shown here the ranking of the drivers and which races were already done or which race is comping up next.

The race[edit]

During the race

Before the race you first need to drive a qualification round. This determines the starting position in the actual race. Except for the easiest difficulty grade, you need to do the gear changing yourself in every level. If you do not do this at the right time, the engine will say goodbye and you are out. The opponents's cars do have the silhouette of the formula 1 cars but they only consist of two colours, which was probably due to the graphical realisation of the tracks.

Racing tracks[edit]

The tracks

You can drive the known formula 1 racing tracks that were used in the season of 1988. However, the view of the track is slightly simplified and partially twisted, so you will probably not instantly recognize the tracks. The names of the tracks are not given in the game.

  • Brazil - Autodromo Int. Nelson Piquet (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Monaco - Circuit de Monaco
  • Canada - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal)
  • USA - Detroit Grand Prix Circuit
  • England - Silverstone Circuit
  • Germany - Hockenheimring
  • Italy - Autodromo Nazionale Monza
  • Japan - Suzuka International Racing Course

The opponents[edit]

The driver's names were all imaginary, they were:

  • Nigel Levins (white car)
  • Peter Kurtz (yellow)
  • Tony Borlini
  • Bruno Gourdo
  • Gregory Kwok
  • Don Matrelli
  • Cal Tyrone
  • Travis Daye
  • Tse Sakamoto (red)

Furthermore, the drivers most of the time reached the finish line in this order. You could collide with a car once. In the second collision both involved cars dropped out due to tire damage, independently from whether the same driver was involved in the first collision or not.


... an animation from the game


Team Speed Advantages Disadvantages
Ferrari 206 seldom change gear slow acceleration
Williams 212 high speed in corners /
McLaren 225 acceleration & speed nervous


  • Brazil: medium difficult, slow curves, little full throttle
  • Monaco: medium difficult, very slow curvers, no highspeed, tunnel
  • Canada: medium difficult, different curves, a bit full throttle
  • USA: very difficult, many 180° curves, little full throttle, tunnel
  • England: difficult, few slow curves, short straights
  • Germany: medium difficult, few slow curves, lots of full throttle, long straights
  • Italy: easy, fast curves, lots of full throttle, long straights
  • Japan: difficult, many curves, little full throttle, tunnel

The records screen[edit]

You can call up screens that show the fastests rounds for "Practice", the best average round times for "Single Races" and the best points for "Entire Circuit" in the following way:

  • For the fastest rounds in "Practice" mode, choose "Practice" in the racing options menu. Then position the cursor on the desired track and press the key "C".
  • For the best average round times in "Single Races" mode, choose "Single Races" in the racing options menu. Then position the cursor on the desired track and press the key "C".
  • For the best points at "Entire Circuit" place the cursor on "Entire Circuit" in the racing options menu and press the key "C".

All times and points are saved on disk.


Joystick forwards / Joystick backwards - accelerate / brake
Joystick left forwards / Joystick right forwards - accelerate + left/right
Joystick left / Joystick right - steer left/right
press fire button and press fire button / Joystick right backwards and press fire button - break + left/right
Joystick forwards and press fire button / Joystick backwards and press fire button - switch gear upwards/downwards
press fire button - couple

F1  - go from each options screen to the track with the last chosen settings
Ctrl P  - pause, any key to continue playing
Ctrl S  - sound on/off
I  - racing information box on/off (position, round, time)
M  - track map on/off
D  - gear display on/off
Run / Stop  - to the setup screen

F1  - load score (only after the race in the result screen!!)
F2  - save score (only after the race in the result screen!!)



When you are close the the top speed you can raise the speed even higher by coupling (=fire) for a short time... not a real cheat as the engine will blow up if you exaggerate it...


Werner: "First-class digi sound in the intro."

FXXS: "Grand Prix Circuit is a successful formula 1 racing simulation. The only thing that is missing is the track-dependent adjustement of the cars and 8 more tracks. The playability, graphics and sound compensate much of this. 9 points."

Guybrush: "This is probably the best racing game on the C64, especially the time chases for the highscore list in battle with friends was great. Equally ingenious was the music in the intro and the main menu; from me 10 points."

Shakermaker303: "The 'non plus ultra' in terms of racing and car game simulation on the C64. Great images, nice option menus, many additional information (for C64 times) and good music top it up. Racer heart, what more do you want? 10 out of 10 points!"



Unfortunately, the game has not much to do with a real Formula season. The invented names of the drivers are probably due to the missing FIA licence and the simplified tracks can be explained with the scarce ressources of the computer, but apart from that there are other details that do not fit reality:

  • It is a sign for season 1988 that Detroit is used as a track and that McLaren uses a Turbo Engine, because this was not the case in 1989 any more.
  • Wiliams had Renault engines only from season 1989.
  • With Ferrari they mixed up the details about the engines from the two seasons:
The 89 engine had the 3.5l capacity but it was a V12.
The 88 engine was a V8, but with turbo and a 1.5l capacity.
Only the 90 engine had approx. the given 680 HP, in 1989 it was 660 HP and in 1988 only 600 HP.

So summed up, a fictitious championship is carried out, which could have taken place at the end of the 80s, and where the 88 McLarens drove against the 90 Williams on tracks chosen by Ferrari. Seen like this, it is somehow "realistic" again...

Trivia: The title screen corresponds to a real image but from the year 1983




  • When there is a tie, then the higher position is given to the one with the higher difficulty grade (Level 1 = lowest level, Level 5 = highest level).
  • When there is a tie and this was also with the same difficulty grade, the higher position is given to the one that has reached this score first (date of the entry).
  • Entries without a level are assumed to haven taken place with level 1 (standard).

Topscore of mombasajoe
  1. mombasajoe - 72 - Level 1 (07.10.2012)
  2. Marvin - 72 - Level 1 (15.12.2013)
  3. H.T.W - 63 - Level 3 (07.08.2009)
  4. Werner - 54 - Level 1 (17.04.2012)

#2 Marvin #3 H.T.W
#2 Marvin #3 H.T.W