nascar pinball - first look !

nascar pinball - first look !

By Fearless_Leader

June 29, 2005

13 years ago

Stern's latest offering comes in the form of two machines, a NASCAR version as reported previously in a Pinside Jan 2005 article, and a "Grand Prix" version, for outside-US markets. The layout of the playfield and game mechanics will be identical for both games, but with different artwork, sounds, and trim. The game is designed by Pat Lawlor, responsible for Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Monopoly, and Addams' Family.

The NASCAR version will not feature individual drivers, as had originally been anticipated. Instead multiple cars and drivers are represented throughout the body of the game, with no lopsided fan favorite, such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., or Ricky Rudd. Such a marketing tactic was attempted with Stern's "NFL Football" in 2000, with only limited success. It is thought that the specificity of choosing a specific driver could deter fans who favored other drivers, or who preferred a more general feel to the genre.

The Grand Prix version is a knock-off Formula 1 racing theme that will feature no licensed drivers, teams, or any other copyright. Its purpose instead is to sell to outside-US markets, where NASCAR has significantly less brand recognition. There are currently no images of the Grand Prix model available, but the layout and gameplay will be identical to the Nascar model. Kevin O'Connor will do the Grand Prix artwork, while John Youssi does the Nascar version.

Splitting the game into two model types with different theme trims is an interesting gambit by Stern. The company has had a lackluster performance in years' past with US-centric licenses such as Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Lawlor designs have also met with poor sales and smaller productions runs in recent years, with RBION, Monopoly and RollerCoaster Tycoon dragging down Stern's bottom line. It is speculated that the F-1 look-a-like model will play more favorably than the NASCAR-license in European and Austrailian markets, where pinball is still thriving in arcades. More than half of all Stern production pinball machines are now exported to foreign markets.

Stern's press releases for the two games are shown below.


Merging the speed of the race track with the speed of the silver ball, Stern Pinball, Inc., has introduced a new NASCAR licensed product NASCAR Pinball.

Designed by Pat Lawlor and his team at Pat Lawlor Design, NASCAR Pinball features the high energy of NASCAR racing along with the fascination of high-tech gaming.

The new NASCAR Pinball game features cars from three race teams; the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace of Penske Racing South; the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing; and the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford driven by Ricky Rudd of Wood Brothers Racing.

"NASCAR Pinball is the kind of game and license combination that comes around only so often," said Lawlor. "We believe we have created an exciting game for both the casual players and the more experienced players. NASCAR Pinball is a fast-paced, action-packed game that should do extremely well at all of its locations."

A primary component of NASCAR Pinball is the racetrack that encompasses the entire playing surface. Energized by magnets, the loop sends pinballs racing around like cars racing around a track. NASCAR Pinball also features a truck hauler that the player can launch a ball through along with a test toy car that the player can bang with the pinball.

"NASCAR Pinball is a terrific simulation of the experience one gets while at the racetrack," said Blake Davidson, NASCAR's managing director of licensed products. "The speed and acceleration demonstrated by the race cars are displayed through the game itself."

Other features of the game include a voice over from Allen Bestwick, NASCAR television analyst for NBC, and recording artist Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55," a popular tune among NASCAR fans.

The NASCAR Pinball was brought to life by Pat Lawlor Design industry veterans Louis Koziarz and John Krutsch. Well-known pinball artist John Youssi did the art package for the game, while expert sound engineer Chris Granner produced the sound work.


Merging the speed of the raceway with the speed of the silver ball, Stern Pinball, Inc. presents its latest pinball machine, GRAND PRIX. Designed by Pat Lawlor and his team at Pat Lawlor Design, GRAND PRIX is a new kind of game for racing and pinball fans.

Grand Prix racing is an immensely popular sport in Europe and around the world today, and Stern’s GRAND PRIX pinball lives up to all the high-energy expectations of its fans. GRAND PRIX is a perfect piece for operators and homeowners who like real excitement in their pinball.

The main feature of GRAND PRIX is a loop that runs around the entire playfield. Energized by magnets, the loop sends pinballs racing around it like cars racing around a track. Collect three balls in the loop and start one of GRAND PRIX challenging multi-balls. GRAND PRIX also features a semi-truck hauler that the player can launch a ball through, and a test car toy that the player can bang with the pinball.

GRAND PRIX is available with English, Spanish, German, French, or Italian speech, dot matrix, instruction cards, and manuals. All languages are available for download through the Stern Pinball website,

The GRAND PRIX pinball was brought to life by Pat Lawlor Design industry veterans Louis Koziarz creating the software and mechanical wiz John Krutsch. Renowned pinball artist Kevin O’Connor created the art package for GRAND PRIX, while expert sound engineer Chris Granner did the sound work.

Pat Lawlor says, “GRAND PRIX is the kind of game and license dream combination that comes around maybe once in a decade. I can't imagine a street location that won't benefit from the high visibility of this product. We have built an exciting game for casual players and a challenging game for location wizards. The GRAND PRIX pinball is fast, addictive, and sure to complement any locations earnings.”

GRAND PRIX racing is without a doubt the fastest, most furious and downright glamorous sporting contest found in the world today. Attracting television audiences in every country in the world, and it now ranks third behind only the Summer Olympics and football's World Cup in global appeal. Every year racers and their high-tech teams reel around the world leaving a trail of high-octane fuel and spilt champagne. Drivers risk life and limb in their pursuit of the ultimate racing accolade - to be acknowledged as World Champion.

Inside the United States and Canada, Stern will offer NASCAR, a pinball machine with its own original art package. The game will offer the same great gameplay and attractions for NASCAR racing fans.

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13 years ago

F1 - yes! But WITHOUT the familiar teams and drivers...?


So close, but no cigar, I'm afraid.
13 years ago
Hey, "half-assed is better than no ass at all", as my pappy always said. I'd probably prefer the F1 theme too, if only it were complete with license. It's unknown why Stern didn't do this.
13 years ago
From what I know Monopoly sold quite well. If you want to talk about machines dragging down Stern let's talk about Playboy or T3... Monopoly outsold both of those hands down.
13 years ago
At the end of the day the license helps but it is not the make or break factor it once was. When I heard Ripleys, Elvis and Sopranos were coming I was cringing. Now after playing them, despite the strange themes I have to admit they were good tables.

All I can say is i'll reserve judgement until I see it in action, Stern may not be in the same league as Bally/Williams but they're not doing too badly thus far and racing games in general have proved popular in the past.
13 years ago
w00t, Pat Lawlor!

And Monopoly may be among my favourite machines of all time. The NASCAR license should do something here in America, considering how wildly popular it seems to be.
13 years ago
I'm not a big fan of the NASCAR theme and it's even a turn off. If they offerred the F1 title in the US I'd consider buying it. I'm not sure why Stern is limiting the distribution of a game. There must be others in the US who would pick a Formula themed game over NASCAR.
13 years ago
I am in the UK, I was really itching for the Grand Prix, but in the end I bought a Nascar. Really lacklustre effort on the GP, poor speech and look at the bad quality of painting on that test car!
Stern had a great opportunity here, pity they fell short.
7 years ago
I never went far
7 years ago
I really loath this game. A lackluster effort indeed.

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