Posted on October 11, 2012
My Top 100: #70 – Kyle Petty’s No Fear Racing
Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a NASCAR fan. My sister had been to a race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania in ’95, and it piqued my curiosity. I watched a few races here and there, but it wasn’t until a year later when I attended my very own first race that I was truly hooked.
Until then, my knowledge of the sport was pretty limited. I had heard the names Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki before, two of the sport’s biggest stars (Kulwicki being the champion in ’92) that were killed in separate aviation accidents a couple years earlier. I also knew that NASCAR race cars were full-bodied, unlike the “canoe with wheels” approach by Indy Cars and Formula One. That was about the extent of it, however.
Kyle Petty’s No Fear Racing was my introduction to the sport, and it pretty much couldn’t have been further from the real thing.
This game didn’t have NASCAR’s license to go ahead and use real track layouts, or even real driver names to race as or against. You could choose to race with a batch of familiar styled numbers, from Rusty Wallace’s #2 to Richard Petty’s famous #43. Beyond that, it had nothing to do with the sport I’ve come to love so much.
The gameplay itself is not unlike that of your typical arcade racer; you could pick up on-track items (Mario Kart-style) like nitro-boosters for a quick burst of speed, or stacks of tires for better grip. There were also mufflers or cans of oil that, if touched, could hinder your progress instead of help you out.
Tracks pretty much all looked identical from behind the wheel, except for their layouts. Contrary to real-life stock car racing, races could be run in the rain or snow, changing the handling characteristics considerably. You also had to take pit strategy into consideration, since running out of gas was a real (and really embarrassing) possibility.
As with other games on my list, this game was not technically special, or ground-breaking in any other way. Still, it was my first experience in playing a racing game based on a real sport, and it has gotten quite a few hours of gameplay since then.