Old School Gaming

Unified Theory of Racing Maps

Auto Racing

Did you ever play a racing game and wonder just what the world of the tracks might look like? One fine denizen of the interwebs wondered just that, way back in the early days of home gaming consoles. But better than just wondering, he was motivated to follow through, all these years later.

When I was very young, back in the late seventies and early eighties, my friends and I loved playing games for the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, and the ColecoVision. My family owned the Intelivision and one of our favorite games for that system was Auto Racing.

At some point, my friends and I discovered that if one drove carefully off-road, it was possible to reach one of the other tracks from the one you were currently driving on. And then we realized that the tracks listed in the manual existed inside one giant map and all were interconnected. To my ten year old mind, this was fascinating… it was like discovering a treasure map. We tried to draw out the map as we explored but with limited success.

As years passed I would from time to time think of our virtual explorations, still curious as to what that hidden, giant map really looked like.

Track maps as outlined in the instruction guide.

Track maps as outlined in the instruction guide.

And so our intrepid gamer set out to find the off road connections on the maps, screenshot them, and stitch it all together for a full map of the world. Check out the images below, and you can find more at gameplay-archive.org, including video of the feat described as “footage of trying to drive off-track” that “is really unwatchable.”



Via metafilter.

  • Starting at 1:23 in the video: "There were even areas where you could drive horizontally across the entire map and come out again where you began on the other side."

    Ah. The virtual world was a tube but not yet a series of them.

  • nanoop

    As low-number teenager (let's say 12yo), I flew in a Cessna in MS FlightSimulator 4… that world was flat and empty.
    As older teenager I actually had the money to buy FS5. I read somewhere that the Spirit of St.Louis flew very low, so I tried the same, and ended in a crash at a map tile border: Charles Lindbergh really was lucky not to smash into a stuck pixel.

  • skitter

    I always wanted to do this, and have multiple tracks overlayed into one giant metropolis, interconnected by spectacular spaghetti onramps.

  • OA5599
  • Kurt Woloch

    Sorry, but your map is incomplete. What are all the black “gaps” in there? I tried this myself as well (but I drew a map by hand instead), and it is actually possible to visit every “tile” which the maps are made of in this game. If you drive along the trees (which are supposed to block you), you’ll find one opening that goes to all the track horizontally, and it repeats at every tile, one tile being 16×16 characters. If you go off track and drive through this opening, going exactly left or right, you won’t collide with any of the trees and obstacles. Do this 16 times (because the map consists of 16×16 tiles), and you can screenshot all of the map, or at least a much bigger part of it including the areas which are black on your map. I actually think there’s a vertical opening as well, if I remember right. Yes, I know it takes at least 208 screenshots to do this. 😉