For wannabe racers of a certain age—uh, that would include me—these three magical words granted entrance to a motorsports nirvana where we could indulge the fantasy that we were Mario Andretti reincarnate, one 55-second lap at a time. At its peak in the 1980s, the Malibu Grand Prix empire encompassed close to 50 tiny racetracks across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Hundreds of thousands of racers racked up millions of laps at a buck-or-so a pop as we chased after ever-better times posted on the electronic timers just beyond the finish line. Devotees with treasured Malibu Grand Prix licenses included not just dweebs and wankers—again, like me—but celebrities such as the teenage Leonardo DiCaprio, the adult Tupac Shakur, and the totally addicted Paul Newman.
When the first Malibu Grand Prix opened in the parking lot of Anaheim Stadium in southern California on a Friday morning in 1975, there was a line of customers waiting to get in. More than 15,000 people sampled the faux-Formula 1 cars during the first week. Almost every middle-age racer I know logged seat time at Malibu Grand Prix. Not just posers, but even guys who grew up to be big-name pros… read more >