Kyalami, South Africa. 1994.
With the State of Emergency lifted in 1990 and the apartheid system on its way out, the stage was set for a South African Formula One Grand Prix. Little did anyone know that the GP would only be run for two years before financial strains and the unstable economy would force the circuit out of the F1’s roster.
The race started off with stiff winds and a foreboding sky. We all hoped the rains would hold out but with five laps to go the downpour was too much. I pitted in to change to rain tires, wishing I’d listened to the forecast and the advice of my pit crew before starting the GP.
Reaching the head of the pack, I felt my heart thumping in my chest, or was it the rumble of my tires as I haphazardly slid to the outside of the line through the chicanes? The rain is only getting harder now and if I don’t pull it together my tires will be bald before the next lap.
I nearly lost it coming out of the Winfield, running too fast to catch the lead; but he’s in sight. We’re nearing the last corner. He’s almost mine! The sky had gone nearly black over the last hour and the rain was pouring. *CRACK* The sky lit up white with the flash of lightning just as we reached the last corner. I don’t know if it blinded Fittipaldi or if it was just luck but I was in the lead! The last stretch. I was fighting to keep my hands steady; my heart was beating so fast. I saw the rest of the pack gaining behind me in my mirrors, the tires must’ve been hydroplaning without grip, but it was too late to be overtaken. Just ahead was the finish line! Another crack of lightning punctuated my win as I sped off to victory lane.
Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit (SCD, 1994)
Racing and Sports games are eternal. From the table tennis gameplay of Pong to the latest cutting edge simulations, almost every piece of hardware has its fair share of both. One of the first racing games for the Sega CD, Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit (yes, that’s its full title!) may have looked like most other racers at the time but it added so much to the experience. Beyond the 2D graphics, which were the norm at the time, F1WC added extensive trackside details, believable elevation changes, functional side mirrors mounted on the car body, and weather effects.
It was a one-of-a-kind experience in 1994, and the unexpected lightning flashes just as I was finishing an extremely challenging race left my hands shaking and my heart beating. Never before had a game elicited such a strong physical response. So startling was the feeling that I actually wrote Sega a letter about it, further swearing allegiance to their ranks.