Racing games, where players have the chance to drive a powerful car, have been a staple in the video game industry since the early days of arcade gaming. Of course, it's not just about cars, it could also be motorcycles, and it can be street racing, track racing, or offroad. What's important is the vehicle should be fast and fun to drive. Pole Position, released in 1982, was the first biggest arcade hit, while the first popular computer game was probably Pitstop II, released in 1984. One year later, Geoff Crammod created the first racing simulation when he developed Revs for BBC Micro.
In 1986, OutRun revolutionized the genre and set the tone for many other street racing games, with 2D pixel-art graphics, music, and a behind view showing the driver and his girlfriend.
Hard Drivin' in 1989 was the first racing game to use 3D graphics, but many games continued to adopt 2D graphics, like the well-known Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge for the Amiga, a game famous for the split-screen 2-player mode. There are also motorcycle games, like Super Hang-On, an arcade ported to many platforms, and Thalion's No Second Prize.
In 1991, the legendary Formula 1 Grand Prix (aka World Circuit) by Geoff Crammod was released. It was a realistic Formula 1 simulator with 3D graphics, a damage system, weather effects, and many other details nobody had seen before.
With the arrival of Windows 95 and more powerful graphics cards, many great racing games were released, like Screamer and, most importantly, The Need for Speed, published in 1995, a game that inspired movies and books.
You can find many other racing games in this list, from Super Mario Kart clones to sci-fi racing sims or post-apocalyptic races. Just browse the list and have fun!