Released in January 1976.
In 1975, Exidy created the game "Destruction Derby
". Chicago Coin licensed the game and called it "Demolition Derby
". Exidy sold the PC boards to Chicago Coin. Chicago Coin had a large distribution network and did not sell as many games as Exidy had anticipated. In addition, Chicago Coin did not pay Exidy as quickly as Exidy desired. In effect, the market was destroyed for Exidy's Destruction Derby.
Due to these issues, Exidy decided to come up with another product, and the easiest way to do this was to modify an existing product. Howell Ivy took their existing game, Destruction Derby (1975), and changed the image proms of the drone cars in Destruction Derby to 'simple stick figures'. In addition, he made wiring modifications to give the stick figures animation, as if running. Also, he modified the crashed drone proms to the image s of graveyard crosses. Therefore, by making somewhat minor changes to Destruction Derby's existing logic board system, he created a completely different perception of game play and consequently created a new game called Death Race. The game was not inspired by Death Race 2000. The idea was to make minimum changes to an existing product to get something new into the marketplace. He did not anticipate that these minor changes would generate worldwide controversies.
Death Race was one of the first controversial video games. The game was nearly banned for explict content. The controversy over the game's violent theme reached the pages of Midnight and National Enquirer as well as NBC's Weekend, Today, and The Tonight Show. The National Safety Council and Newsweek both referred to the game as 'sick'. The controversy had reportedly started when a AP reporter in Seattle saw children playing the game and thought that the sound effects the pedestrians made when hit sounded like 'shrieking children'. Before the controversy, the game sold only 200 copies - afterwards, Exidy produced about 3,000 (including PCB sales).
When the car crashes into an object (wall or grave stone) AND the gas pedal isn't let go, after about 3 to 4 seconds the car will go right through it. This is normal behavior, and probably isn't seen often in gameplay because normally the player would switch into reverse gear after hitting something.