Racing games are a great choice for younger children.
They’re non-offensive, often easy to control and, if you choose the right game, they’re bright and colourful. While some full-on simulation games, like DIRT Rally or Project Cars, demand too much skill to be enjoyed by children, there are plenty more out there that allow for any skill level.
Better yet, some racing games are especially aimed at children, offering various accessibility options – like automatic acceleration. That means even the youngest kids can join in on the fun.
No matter what console they’re playing on, there’s a great selection of racing games suitable for younger players. Click on through to see our picks of the best racing games for kids.
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This article was first published in November 2020 and has since been updated with more recent titles.
1. Race With Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition
- Available on PC, PS4, PS5 (via backwards compatibility), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (via backwards compatibility) and Switch
From the Ryan’s World franchise, Race With Ryan: Road Trip Deluxe Edition is a re-release of last year’s Race With Ryan. It contains the same base content but adds in lots of additional content too, including new tracks. So if you don’t already own the game, this is the version to buy.
Thanks to its bold and bright colour palette and super simple controls, Race With Ryan is suitable for players as young as three years old. Settings can be tweaked to allow for auto acceleration, so all players need to do is steer their vehicle around a simple track.
It features a range of characters from Ryan’s World, including of course Ryan himself. It’s one of the best racing games for kids there is, especially for those under five.
2. Forza Horizon 4
- Available on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
Forza might be a strange choice for one of the best racing games for kids, but hear us out. With a huge open world, Forza Horizon 4 is actually the perfect racing sandbox for any kid who enjoys getting behind the wheel. There’s of course the more recent Forza Horizon 5, too, but there’s a particular DLC pack for Forza Horizon 4 that makes us recommend this one more than the other.
Set in the lush landscape of Great Britain, Forza Horizon 4 is completely free of offence or anything unsuitable for children. It allows players to drive around an open world, entering events as they see fit. But nobody says you have to join in a race; simply enjoying the open world might be enough for some. For older children, there are a huge range of difficulty options for races, making them much more accessible.
Even better is the LEGO Speed Champions DLC which transports players to a new world made out of LEGO, featuring LEGO cars. Name us a better racing game for kids than that. Go on, we’ll wait.
3. Cars 3: Driven to Win
- Available on PS4, PS5 (via backwards compatibility), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (via backwards compatibility) and Switch
Based on the popular Disney/Pixar franchise, Cars 3: Driven to Win puts players in control of Lightning McQueen, Mater et al as they embark on a new adventure. Complete with story scenes to break up the action, players will be tasked with taking on various challenges, ranking up to be the best racer they can be.
The challenges on offer are mixed: some require players to win a race, others require you to accumulate goals over time. Most can be completed in any of the game’s huge range of events, and there’s even a Playground area that allows for free roaming. It’s here where younger children will have more fun. Challenges can be completed, but players can just enjoy driving around without any pressure. It’s one of the best racing games for kids, especially those who are fans of the Pixar franchise.
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Available on Switch
Bright, colourful, fast-paced and a lot of fun, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is undoubtedly one of the best racing games for kids. It can get rather competitive, though, so it’s probably not suitable for more sensitive players!
Featuring a whole host of popular Nintendo characters across a range of themed tracks, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe encourages players to race and fight their way to the finish line. There’s a range of power-ups available that players can fire at each other to give them the advantage. It’s best played in multiplayer, so it’s perfect if you have more than one child to keen entertained. But it’s just as fun taking on the CPU in single-player.
Few racing games are as brilliantly-designed as Mario Kart, but be warned: it’s not always so easy, so it might not be suitable for really young players.
5. Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway
- Available on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Switch
For children who love cartoons, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway should be a must-buy. A karting game that features a range of characters from some of Nickelodeon’s most-loved brands, it’s colourful, it’s bold, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.
Spongebob Squarepants and his friends make an appearance, as do the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, Hey Arnold and more. It’s a huge roster, and it’s likely your child’s favourite Nickelodeon star has an appearance in some form or another. Even Jojo Siwa is in there.
There’s a large range of tracks to race around, all based on the same Nickelodeon franchises. Players can either play solo against the CPU, or engage in local multiplayer with up to three others. A number of different modes means there’s plenty to do to keep players busy, making this one of the best racing games for kids.