For adrenaline junkies, there are few types of games that are as gripping as racing games, but with hundreds available for iPhone and iPad, finding the best can be a real challenge. Fortunately, we here at iMore have tested out dozens of these games and collected the very best available in the App Store, ranging from goofy and cartoony to serious automotive sims. So take your pick of these great racing games when filling up your iPhone 12, and be sure to check out our best game controllers for iPhone to really take your racing game to the next level!
Mario Kart Tour
It's hard to find fault with the Mario Kart series. In addition to being really well made racing games, they're also a lot of fun. Sure, not everyone is into the cute, cartoon characters, but can you really complain too much when you have the option of racing as Yoshi?
Now you can enjoy the fun of Mario Kart from your phone with Mario Kart Tour. Join up to seven other players to race around the world, with tracks based on classic Mario Kart levels and ones inspired by real world cities. The more you race, the more drivers, karts, and badges you earn, all while climbing the ranks on the global leaderboard. Best of all, when you link your Nintendo account to Mario Kart Tour, you can earn points to exchange for real world prizes, as well as in game items.
Forza Street: Tap to Race
The Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon games are easily some of the most popular racing games and now, you can enjoy the fun and excitement of Forza from your mobile device. Forza Street features a large collection of more than 50 beautifully rendered cars for you to earn and customize. It features a variety of courses, also beautifully rendered, and a flexible play style that allows for quick, single minute races all the way up to intense, story driven events.
The one complaint we have with Forza Street is that the gameplay is a little too simplified and so it's not particularly challenging.
Sonic Forces - Racing Battle
Who said racing had to be limited to vehicles? Sonic Forces lets you race as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and more, but you're not just running. You'll also be battling the other racers with mines, fire balls, and even tornados, all while competing to grab the most rings.
Sonic Forces is a lot of fun, and like Mario Kart Tour, doesn't take itself too seriously. You can play solo, or take up multiplayer challenges to see if you can top the leaderboard. This game is great for long time Sonic fans and newcomers alike.
NASCAR Heat Mobile
From the world's largest stock car racing organization, NASCAR Heat Mobile is the official racing game for NASCAR. It features over 20 official NASCAR cup series tracks, lots of drivers, and tons of cars. You can race as famous NASCAR drivers like Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano.
What stands out most about NASCAR Heat Mobile is the additional focus on building your franchise. By establishing a Fan Zone, your popularity will influence how you upgrade your cars. You can also get help from your friends in building your NASCAR empire.
Real Racing 3
Real Racing 3 is bound to keep gearheads entertained. It puts real brand-name cars on real-world tracks — hence the name. It features an interesting asynchronous multiplayer system whereby lap times are recorded from your friends, and you race against a bot that's driving at that time. Of course you can bump them out and affect their track time, and there's a single-player career worth playing through too.
Over time, players earn new cars and can upgrade various mechanical bits with their winnings, but make sure you take it easy on your car — you'll have to keep your ride in good condition to avoid repair costs. Real Racing 3 is absolutely gorgeous, and the white-knuckled racing action will keep you coming back for more.
Hashiriya Drifter #1 Racing
Built on Japanese car culture of the 80's and 90's, Hashiraya is a drifter racing game that lets you take to the streets or the tracks. It features dozens of realistic cars and boasts a player base of more than 10,000,000 players.
What Hashiriya does differently from the rest is customization. Virtually all modern racing games have some level of customization, but Hashiriya takes it to the next level. Each car has over 100 different customizable parts, allowing you to fine tune your vehicles before taking to the streets.
Mini Motor Racing 2: Drift RC
Mini Motor Racing is fast, finger-friendly fun. Despite the cartoony art style and physics, there is a lot of challenge to be had here. Players work their way through various race modes in a top-down perspective, buy new cars, and upgrade their existing ones. The 20-odd tracks are presented in varying weather conditions and times of day, which offers a ton of replay value even for the most familiar circuits.
There's also a great Fruit Ninja tie-in with its own themed course and car, regular updates with new content, and local multiplayer over Wi-Fi. In-app purchases are available if you want to fast-track your car upgrades, though they're far from necessary. There's also a new extended championship you can buy your way into with in-game cash, though there are already 200 races in the core experience.
Hot Wheels Infinite Loop
Set in the (not too) distant future, Hot Wheels Infinite Loop puts you behind the wheel of life-size versions of tons of Hot Wheels cars. You'll find classic cars like Twin Mill™, Bone Shaker™, Rodger Dodger™, and Deora II™, all of which you can add to your collection, customize, and race.
This game is colorful and bright, with excellent graphics and gameplay is fairly easy to get a handle on (it's designed for kids to be able to enjoy after all!) If you had a small army of Hot Wheels as a child like I did, you'll recognize a fair number of the more iconic cars, as well as the "Infinite Loop" tracks.
The only real complaint I have about this game is the number of microtransactions and a pricey subscription, so if you're planning on handing this one to your kid, keep that in mind.
Need for Speed No Limits
Need for Speed No Limits continues one of the top AAA racing game franchises from consoles. Players cruise through a variety of richly-detailed stages, often trying to avoid the cops and simultaneously trying to sideswipe competing racers. The mobile game has a strong tie-in with the console version, allowing users to rank up in a common leaderboard.
The controls for Need for Speed are absolutely stellar, using tilt, intuitive drifting, and full Moga controller support. In-app purchases are available to buy in-game cash, which can be spent on upgrading your various cars, though you'll also earn that cash simply by playing through the game.
Need for Speed No Limits provides some of the best graphics you'll find for racing games on iOS, and strikes a great balance between a goofy arcade feel and something more serious and competitive.
Dirt Bike Unchained
While most of the games on this list are for racing cars, Dirt Bike Unchained lets you race dirt bikes instead. From the maker of one of the most famous energy drinks in the world, Red Bull, this game features more than 20 epic dirt bikes to collect, upgrade, and race, all against beautifully rendered landscapes.
Enjoy solo play, competitve coop, or team coop to complete challenges for in-game rewards. Dirt Bike Unchained also includes several real-world Red Bull motocross and enduro superstars, including Tarah Gieger, Cooper Webb, Jorge Prado, Johnny Walker, Glenn Coldenhoff, Sam Sunderland, Manuel Lettenbichler, Laia Sanz and Cody Webb.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Asphalt 8 was one of our favorite mobile racing games, but Asphalt 9 is even better. It skips all pretensions of realism and provides an over-the-top, high-octane game with all the fixings.
Players can work their way through the career mode, unlock new rides, upgrade the ones they have, or take the competition online in staggered or live multiplayer. The usual race modes are there, plus an off the wall mode called Infected, where players have to tag other racers before succumbing to an explosive virus.
The incredibly polished graphics and outstanding soundtrack make Asphalt 9 an adrenaline trip you won't soon forget.
For those who love the Asphalt series as much as we do, Asphalt Xtreme takes all the over-the-top fun of Asphalt off road. With more than 50 monster trucks, muscle cars, buggies, and more from big names like Jeep, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Predator, Dodge, and Chevrolet, you can find exactly the right machine to suit your style.
Asphalt Xtreme builds on the absurdity of the series with the off road experience, but even better, this game is huge. It features more than 400 events and more than 500 mastery challenges, all to be played over five different game modes. You can challenge up to seven other players in massive free-for-alls and race across some of the most unusual of settings, like Norwegian glaciers!
The graphics and gameplay are both stellar, but I especially enjoyed the soundtrack for this game with artists such as Rise Against, Finger Eleven, Cage the Elephant, DJ Tiësto, Swanky Tunes, and more.
GT Racing 2
Although GT Racing 2 is made by the same folks behind the Asphalt series, it is as realistic as they come. It's even dubbed "The Real Car Experience". It features 71 licensed cars from over 30 manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Dodge, Nissan, Audi, Ford, and more.
GT Racing 2 lets you race on 13 different tracks to complete hundreds of events with 28 new challenges every week. This game also incorporates different times of day and weather conditions into your races, adding an extra layer of realism and difficulty. Compete against other players or play it solo.
Riptide GP2 is a fantastic jetski racing game where players ride through all sorts of waterways: some man-made, some out in the wild. The career mode puts you through progressively more challenging races, rewarding you with cash and experience points. The cash can be spent on getting new rides or upgrading the ones you have, and every time you level up, you can unlock killer new tricks to perform when launching off ramps on a course.
Riptide GP2 is distinct from other racers in its bounding feeling as you skip over the waves, not to mention getting splashback in the camera view. Vector Unit's other racing titles feature these liquid physics as well, but Riptide is very clearly built to showcase them to their fullest. Competitive online multiplayer is powered by Game Center. You can speed up your progression with in-app purchases, but, as usual, they're optional.
Repulze is a neat twist on the futuristic, high-speed racing game. It stays differentiated with a polarizing mechanic, whereby players slalom between red and green energy gates, depending which they have active. Get three in a row, and you earn a boost as well as change the polarity. Go through the wrong gate, and your speed will be knocked down considerably.
Besides that, Repulze has dizzying twists and turns, tap, tilt, or hardware controls, and fully upgradeable vehicles. Every stage has a handful of toolkits which can be used to on upgrades if you can snag them, though there are in-app purchases to help you out if you need them, too.
Rival Stars Horse Racing
While we covered plenty of cars, karts, trucks, jet skis, and even a racing hedgehog, one of the oldest forms of racing is horse racing and Rival Stars is the best horse racing app out there. Other games might let you customize your cars, but in Rival Stars you breed, train, manage, and race all your own horses — all with the goal of restoring your family's stable to its former glory.
As someone who has always had an appreciation for horses but never lived outside of the city, this game has a lot of appeal. You get to see your horse from its first steps as a foal up through winning championship races, and wow are these horses pretty. Few games faithfully recreate the unique appearances of horses, much less their unusual movements, but Rival Stars definitely does. The grace that this game captures is quite impressive.
Your favorite racing games for iPhone and iPad?
There are hundreds of racing games in the App Store so we certainly haven't tried them all. If we missed your favorite, let us know in the comment section so we can check it out too!
Updated June 2021: Removed games that are no longer available in the App Store and added several new games.
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