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Well, it's that time of the year. The tracks are covered with ice and snow and the only guy that made a real lap in the last couple of months was the jolly fat guy with a sled led by a deer with a red nose. Speaking of sleds getting pulled by someone with a red nose, that reminds me of a story…aw maybe another time.

Anyway, in lieu of real racing, many of us are racing our computers this time of year using software that simulates drag racing. The old Burkster got his hands on a couple of these games and during the past month he has been making laps like a fiend with varying results and enjoyment.

DRO was the recipient of two drag racing games: one that simulates IHRA drag racing and one that simulates NHRA racing. The IHRA game is called "IHRA 2000" and comes from Bethesda Softworks Inc in Maryland. The NHRA game is called "NHRA 2" and is from the folks at

I got the IHRA game first and stayed up all one night playing it. I liked the fact that they offered a wide variety of cars and a very wide spectrum of options. You can race any class that IHRA offers. The program allows the player to adjust virtually everything in the engine, on the chassis, and the drive train. And when I say everything I mean everything.

In theory you should be able to duplicate or exceed any of IHRA's class records given enough laps. There is just one slight problem. You can't. I tried every engine, chassis, clutch, and tranny combination available on a blown Pro Mod and the best I could get was 6.80's at about 210. I was really bummed until I called a few other people who had tried the same game with the same results. The bottom line here is this game has everything a real technoid fan could want, but unfortunately it just doesn't work like a real car.

I found that trying to work this game with just a keyboard is pretty much an exercise in futility. It can be done, but the game would be a lot more fun with a steering wheel and pedals.

Also-and it's just a minor thing but-the top fuel car in this game appears to float off of the ground, I dunno perhaps it was just a piece of undigested beef. And having to listen to the entire intro every time I restarted the game drove me and the folks around me batshit.

Despite its flaws, I still like the game and would buy it. It would be a lot of fun at a party after a few cocktails, but sadly with just a little more tweaking this could have been the mother of all race sims.

After playing the IHRA-based game for a week, I got a copy of the NHRA game and I have to say that I was impressed with this game from the start. The packaging, from the raised letterbox to the CD holder to the instruction booklet, is way cool and a step above the IHRA-endorsed product. As for the game itself, it is a much simpler game to play because there are fewer choices.

You can run either a Top Fuel car or a Fuel Coupe. No do-it-yourself set-up because the player only gets to choose a tuner. The wild card is the tuner's aggressive rating, which runs from a 6 to an 11 on a ten-point scale.

The sound and graphics of this game are seriously real, especially in the dragster. The body shakes, the engine cackles like a real one, and if you crash (which I seem to do on every lap) the visuals are extremely realistic. I mean, burning parts go flying everywhere! Where was this game in the Sixties when in an altered state I could have really gotten a dose of reality playing it?

Like the IHRA game, though, this one needs a steering wheel and pedals. You're way too busy after a pass to pull the chute and steer by trying to find the right keys on a keyboard-especially if you have fingers the size of "Dodger Dogs" like the Burkster has. Besides, every time you crash you have to listen to some smart-ass remark from an NHRA driver. (That Bazemore is really starting to get on my nerves!)

If they could have combined the tunability of the IHRA game with the graphics and simplicity of the NHRA then the non-racing public would have the real deal.

If I could buy only one of these two games it would probably be the NHRA endorsed game, but I'd rather have both.

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