A Paper-and-Pencil Car Racing Game.
To play this game, you need from two to maybe six players, a coloured
pencil or pen for each person and some paper with quarter inch (or so)
You can click here to download a sheet
of squared paper that you can print out if you don't have any.
It should look like this:
...and not like this:
Next, draw a racetrack with a start-finish line like this:
(Click here to see a full-sized version)
The Basic Rules
The basic rules are VERY simple once you get the hang of them.
RULE 1: Your 'car' is always at the intersection of the lines on the
squared paper - not inside the squares. As you drive around the
track, you draw lines showing where it goes using your own colour
pen or pencil.
RULE 2: Players take it in turns to move - the youngest person plays first.
RULE 3: First person to make it all the way around the course once wins.
RULE 4: Each turn, you car can either move the same number of squares in the
same direction as it did last time - or it may move one square
more or less in either North, South, East or West directions than it
did last time.
That last rule needs some pictures to explain it.
| The RED arrow shows where you moved last turn. Three Squares EAST and One Square NORTH:
| ...and if you do nothing, your car will follow the blue arrow
and go Three Squares EAST and One Square NORTH this turn:
| ...but you can choose to go one extra square North, South, East
or West of that place - to any of the places marked with dots:
| ...so any of these would be legal moves:
| Suppose we chose to turn toward the South:
...then on the next turn the car was going three squares
EAST (and none north or south). So now it can go to any of
Here is a continuation of this game - showing the car narrowly
avoiding a crash into the side of the track:
If you are moving just one square north, south, east or west, you
can come to a complete stop on your next move. The move after
that, your previous move was to be stationary - and you are allowed
to move off at a speed of one square either North, South, East or West.
Damage, Crashing and Collisions.
The rules require that you always try to avoid a collision with
another car - you aren't allowed to do it deliberately. However,
if it's unavoidable then look back and count how many squares apart
the two cars were last turn. Both cars take one point of damage for
each square. This makes head on collisions nearly always fatal,
but you can usually survive rear-ending another car.
Both cars are then considered stopped and can move
off at one square next turn.
If you crash into the side of the track then you take one point
of damage for each square of speed you had on the move you crashed.
Put the car at the edge of the track on the square nearest to where
it crashed - and start off again at one square of speed the next
If you lose more than five damage points,
you are out of the game...you lose!
Once you've mastered the rules and played a couple of games, you
may be ready for some more complicated rules. Pick which ones you
want to play before you start - but make sure everyone agrees about
what rules you are using before you start racing!
Using 'Good Brakes' allows a car to slow down by TWO squares instead
of the usual one. However good brakes wear out quickly and you are
only allowed to use them twice in each race.
Using the 'Turbo Boost' allows a car to speed up by TWO squares
instead of the usual one. Just like good brakes, you can only
use turbo boost twice in each race.
You can draw oil patches onto the track before the race. Whenever a
car would cross any part of the puddle during the turn if it didn't
turn, speed up or slow down, it skids and MUST make the exact same
move as last turn. Good brakes and turbo-boost don't work on oil.
Design Your Own Car
Each player gets $100 to kit out his or her car at the start of the
game. Good brakes cost $10 and Turbo Boosts cost $10, Damage
points cost $5 each.
You can buy as many 'Good Brakes' uses, 'Turbo Boosts' and Damage
points as you can afford. If you don't buy any damage points then
you car blows up the first time it hits ANYTHING!
You could allow players to save money from one race to another - or
award prize money to the winner and allow them to spend that in the
It's important that you design the race track before everyone
designs their cars!
You could place small coins on the track to represent 'collectable'
items. A penny could be worth two Turbo-boosts, a nickle two Good
brakes uses and a dime could give you five extra damage points.
You could also have collectibles that are worth money that you can
spend in the next race.
The first car to drive into a collectable gets to pick it up and
James Bond Mode
In this mode, you can spend your money to buy missiles, oil slick
sprayers, rocket boosters, submarine mode, or rear-shooting guns.
The rules (and prices) for these things are as follows:
Any of these goodies could be a collectable too!
- $30 Missile. You can fire the missile one time whenever it's your
turn. It moves on your turn just like it was another car - so it
starts off moving the same speed as you are. It's advantage is that
it can use turbo-boost every turn until it hits something. (Not 'good brakes'
though - it's boost only makes it go faster!). If it ends up on the
same square as any car (including your own!) then it explodes and
causes 3 points of damage. If two missiles hit each other then they
- $10 Oil Sprayers. Once during the game, you can draw a 3x3 square
oil slick right behind your car - it behaves just like a normal oil
- $30 Rocket boosters. Once during the game, you can speed up
by THREE squares - like using two turbo boosts at once.
- $30 Submarine Capability. Before people design their cars,
players could agree to colour some parts of the track with blue
crayon. These could cover up important short-cuts for example.
Only cars with submarine capability can cross these parts of the
track. Everyone else crashes if they try.
- $20 Rear-shooting machine guns. Any time another car is
one square behind you at either the start or end of your turn,
you can shoot and cause one point of damage. You can use your
machine guns as often as you like in the game. If you buy two
sets of guns, you can do two points of damage, three sets of guns,
three points of damage - and so on.
You can have players form teams and help each other reach the
finish ahead of the other team - you can also have each player
drive two or even three cars at once! Remember that every car
moves every turn - so on your turn, you must move each of your
cars once before the other players get a turn.
In team racing, cars score three points for a win, two points
for second place and one point for third. The team with the
most points wins overall.
I'm sure you can think of lots of good things to add to the game.
Memories are faulty. I thought I remembered that the group I played with
in school had invented this game. That would have been in England
back in 1972 or '73. However, since I put up this web site, several
other people have told me that they too were playing it all over
Europe at about the same time - so either everyone got it from the
same source at about the same time - or it is a bizarre case of
Ernst van Rheenen tells me that this game has been played in his
classroom in the Netherlands for some time before this website was
created. Ernst has a nice JAVA implementation of the game where you
can play the computer, or other people via the network.
Check it out here.
Dag Nystrom told me that he learned a very similar game called "paper racing"
in Sweden - around 30 years ago (which is about the same time I was playing it).
His version had a few small differences:
> In that time we had: Race-track on paper, oil patch and jumps (The ability
> to jump over obstacles). One difference though was the freedom of movements,
> in our version the following move rules applied:
I really like the last of these rules - and encourage everyone to try it out
as an interesting variation on my rule on leaving the track.
- You could NOT duplicate your previous vector, i.e., you HAD to brake
and/or turn. Exception given for oil patches and jumps, in which you
MUST duplicate the vector.
- You were allowed to change your vector to any of the 8 adjecent
crosses(i.e. not only North,South,East,West, but also NW,NE,SW,SE).
- If you left the race-track, you had to make a circle and enter the
race track at a point before the point you left it.
Dag also says:
> The funny thing is that I came across this game, less than a year ago on
> a Ph.D. course I took at Uppsala University, Sweden. We used a formal
> verification tool, called UppAal, to calculate optimal "racing-runs" for
> an arbitrary track. (Link to the course-lab:
> ). According to the teacher on this course, he had learned the game
> in Denmark some years ago.
Finding the origins of this game is turning into quite a detective hunt!
You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org