Emulating the heroes of 1965 on a dodgy old laptop

| 16 Dec 2011

I’m not much good with computers. I can use them, but I don’t pretend to understand them. It was therefore with a mixture of surprise and delight that I recently managed to revive a previously dead old laptop.

Before you start thinking that this has become the ‘Classic & Laptop’ website, there is a motoring angle to all this. Kind of.

You see, the computer in question had on it a copy of Grand Prix Legends. This game was released in 1998, and faithfully recreates the 1967 Formula One season – with one exception.

That year, the French GP was held at Le Mans’ terminally dull Bugatti circuit; the game's developers wisely chose to replace this with the majestic Rouen-Les-Essarts.

It’s not your average driving simulation. A friend of mine who works for a computer-game publisher described it as being “harder than diamond shoulder-pads”, and there’s no doubt that you’ll spend most of your time inadvertently chucking your car at the scenery. The rest you’ll spend messing around with its set-up.

But once you do become more proficient, it’s just fabulous. Best of all, a huge community grew off the back of it. People with infinitely more computer know-how than me, and clearly with more time on their hands, have come up with add-ons including the 1.5-litre F1 cars of 1965, and the be-winged 3-litre machines of 1969.

They’ve designed new tracks, too, so you can race at Goodwood, Brands Hatch, Sebring, Crystal Palace, Levin, and even the 44-mile circuit used for the Targa Florio – the list goes on.

I could have tried to reload the game on to the newer laptop we eventually bought to replace the one we presumed dead, but that would have involved lots of faffing around with updated operating systems and ‘patches’. Clearly all the old one needed was a little rest and time to think about what it had done.

I think I might be on to something here, so the next time one of my cars breaks down, I’m going to try the same tactic...