A 2-Player Battle
When I was 10 years old, I visited my grandmother in Florida. We were in the living room with my oldest cousin playing a game on his PlayStation™ while the adults chatted. I remember seeing the graphics of the game and being wowed by how realistic everything looked. I had just gotten into cars, and this was the latest racing game on the PlayStation. Of course I had to play it.
He handed me the controller and told me to pick a car. I go through the carousel looking at cars I’ve never seen before. After a while I come across something familiar: The Dodge Viper GTS. Quickly, I picked my car in red and my cousin picked his: An Acura NSX, in purple. I hadn’t heard of the NSX at that point, so I was sure I would beat my cousin. The Viper had more horsepower, after all. Little did I know.
When the race was over, I was hooked. How could a car with “only” 276 horsepower beat the mighty Viper? Clearly my cousin was much more skilled than I. I swore I would get the game and practice, promising to beat him the next time we met.
That was over 20 years ago. That game was called Gran Turismo.
Hobbies turn into Passions
I can’t discount how much racing games influenced my love for cars. Gran Turismo sparked my passion for learning about cars, influencing by hobbies and tastes later on. Everyday after school, I would eat a snack, finish my homework, and then play Gran Turismo until dinner time. It was ironic that I didn’t have a memory card when I first started playing. Every time I started that game, it was literally a “new game”. I would see how far I could get until dinnertime, and then hopefully, I’d be able to continue until bedtime!
Until I got my memory card, I was forced to learn which cars were the best to use by comparing stats and prices. Eventually I settled on my weapon-of-choice: A “Red Mica” Supra 3.0GT Limited ’93. It was the feeling of discovering that car and others like it that stayed with me from then on. Gran Turismo sparked a passion in me that still continues to this day; to the point where I can’t help by smile whenever I see a 3rd-generation Toyota Supra pass by.
I can’t stress enough how important video games can be when it comes to creating new car enthusiasts. Thanks to games like Gran Turismo, I learned a massive amount about cars early on, which only fed my passion. I’ve met people that had similar stories too. Some people got into cars playing games like Need for Speed II. Others started with the Ridge Racer series, or Al Unser Jr.’s Arcade Racing. Whether you’re old enough to remember when The Need for Speed was sponsored by Road & Track, or you just started playing the latest Gran Turismo; today’s car enthusiasts are likely born from video games.
I eventually did beat the Sunday Cup in Gran Turismo soon after I got my first memory card. The prize car wasn’t nearly as fast as my Supra, so I sold it to finance more parts. Eventually I beat the game with the Supra fully-tuned and still in my garage, alongside a racing version of the Viper GTS, and a race-tuned NSX.
I’m still waiting for that rematch with my cousin though.