Grand Prix is a Formula One Grand Prix motor racing-themed video game, and one of the first side-scrolling racing video games. It was designed and programmed by David Crane for the Atari 2600 video game console, and published by Activision in 1982.
Activision republished the game in the anthologies Activision's Atari 2600 Action Pack for Windows 95 (1995) and Activision Anthology (2002), and again via Microsoft's Game Room service in May 2010.
Grand Prix was the first Atari 2600 game to feature shaded objects in color. When David Crane developed an Atari 2600 programming technique for painting large, multicolored sprites on the screen, he made a color pattern that reminded him of Grand Prix racing stripes. This inspired him to design a Grand Prix racing game to apply his new technique.
The player drives a Formula One car in a time trial on one of four race tracks, each of which has a different difficulty level. Difficulty is gauged by the length of the course, the number of cars and oil slicks on the track, and the number of bridges to cross.
The player views the race from a top-down perspective, and the screen scrolls from right to left. The player's car maneuvers only on a vertical axis, and loses a little speed when it does so. The joystick's button is the throttle: Depressing it accelerates, and releasing it decelerates. Pressing the joystick leftward applies the brake. The transmission audibly shifts as the player's car accelerates and decelerates.
Grand Prix is a time trial, and the competing cars are obstacles rather than competition for the finish line. The player's car can easily outpace the other cars, but if it collides with one, its speed drops lower than that of the impacted car. Driving over an oil slick causes the player's car to skid slightly sideways, but does not slow it down. Once every scale mile, the player crosses a narrow bridge over blue water. Colliding with any wall of the bridge stops the car, and the player must slowly gain speed to continue. A patch of oil slicks precedes a bridge. This both forewarns the player, and presents a hazard while trying to steer onto the bridge.
Competing cars cross neither bridges nor the finish line; if they approach either one, they stop suddenly.
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