Designing a Midway Game: Route 66 Racer

Designing a Midway Game: Route 66 Racer

Let me start with some context. I’ve worked at Pacific Park, an amusement park, for all my career. That is 20+ years in the Amusement industry. I am a Creative Designer by trade and during my tenure at Pacific Park, one of the many, but early positions I held, was working in the Games Department. 

There I learned the in’s and out of “Playing the Midway.” This included knowledge in game skills, rules, and concepts. As well as visual merchandising or flashing displays, selling & purchasing, guest service, teaching, game maintenance, and much more. Everything else, you name it, I’ve done it.

Working in the Games department prepared me for an opportunity ahead (years down the road of course)…

I’ve helped designed and developed many Amusement Park games for Pacific Park from scratch but creating a Route 66 Game with Bob’s Space Racers was an experience like no other!

Article Overview:

  • Researching the concept for the Route 66 game unit. 
  • On Paper: Why my first sketch was the only sketch idea. 
  • From design to production with BSR…
  • Game day, the final design. 

Researching the concept for the Route 66 game unit.

In any project, you have a beginning… For me, I was given an airstream and an idea… And the initial idea was a Route 66 inspired themed race game. And as mentioned before, one of the things I’ve learned, I knew the mechanics and concept of a race game.

Oh, and yes! One more thing, this will be in an AIRSTREAM…


So for those of you who aren’t familiar…

What is an Airstream?

An Airstream is an American brand of travel trailers which are easily recognized by the distinctive shape of their rounded and polished aluminum coachwork. – Wiki

What is a midway race game?

Race games can hold at minimum, 2 players up to 16+ players depending on game type. Players squirt their water towards the target. As the water hits the target, a stuffed animal or avatar, races to the top towards the finish. The first player to reach the finish and ring bell wins.


So off I went with an Airstream, a Route 66 theme idea, and a race… And with that, I was able to quickly decide, cars and motorcycles will be my players’ avatars. Now, what about everything else?

I did my research online. The Historic Route 66 was the keyword search. I found endless articles, a handful of great videos, and a movie we all know and love. Disney Pixar Cars.

Disney Pixar Cars is an amazing movie. Check out the featurette in the bonus content of Cars. John Lasseter, a former exec and animator for Disney, lead this informative documentary about Route 66 and it’s history. Interesting how this doc became a huge influence on this project.

From all this, I was able to envision a race game where players would pick their vehicle of choice. Start by walking up to their gas pump, aim at the target, and race across Route 66! And on their “travel” they have the chance to past several iconic landmarks. Finally, the winner would finish at the end of the trail at Pacific Park on the World Famous Santa Monica Pier.

On Paper: Why my first sketch was the only sketch idea.

Out came the the iPad ( yes, i said paper…) and I only did one design concept. This ONE concept was the making of something special. I didn’t want to create or design anything else. I couldn’t, I didn’t want to see anything beyond this design. This was it. I believed in this one. I proposed this sketch (below) with a story that I knew would help solidify my design.

Here is the sketch that I presented to our stakeholders.

Route-66-racer-game-concept-orlando-ayala

Here’s the story I sent out: 

Here are my initial thoughts for game parts design, hoping Bob’s Space Racer can mold and produce. See attached sketch with numbers:


1) Race gun – would like it to simulate a gas pump handle from the 60’s. 


2) Route 66 emblem with target. Players will shoot their gas gun into the target to gas up and move their vehicle along the “Route 66” road until the first person reaches the end. 


3) Players will be able to choose between 5 different vehicles to take them across the map route as they pass different landmarks. 


4) Landmarks- as the player start and race to the “End of the Line”, they will pass 5 different “molded” landmarks on their journey. The winner will reach the beautiful Pacific Wheel on the SM Pier! Lol


Just initial concept, let me know what you think or if any specific ideas come to mind. We can also sit down and brainstorm but wanted to get this out for some thought.  

Let me know!

Orlando Ayala

Everything was there. Your favorite vehicle to filling up your gas tank to hitting the road. While on that journey across the USA, you past iconic landmarks to visit. And at the end of the trail, the final stop is at the world famous Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park. 

Remember, I’ve worked in the Games department. So I believed I understood a guest/player(s) journey when they stepped up to play a midway game. I understood the game attendants role and their responsibilities to engage and interact… The storytelling of this project was important and I could already envision how it would operate from start to finish.

From design to production with BSR…

Bob’s Space Racers (BSR) is the biggest Amusement Park game developer and seller in the US if not the World. Their game units are everywhere. There company is amazing and they build each game from the ground up, all of it! I had the pleasure in working with BSR Sales/Project Manager, Larry Steele and Creative Director, Eddie Roseboom.

For BSR, this was a first! An Airstream?!

With that, my concept design had an idea for the raceway (where the players vehicles travel) that BSR had never done before, another first, from what I understand.

Both Larry and Eddie took the concept and ran with it! We were on a journey of creating something special. A game unit that has never been created before!

The production was all in their hands. So a few phone calls, some emails, and a little back and forth and this was moving. Great communication from both Larry and Eddie every step of the way. These guys are serious! Their team is serious!

I was lucky enough to visit Bob’s Space Racers in Holly Hill, Florida, on that famous road, Whac-A-Mole Way. And let me tell you, what these guys do for the amusement industry is amazing. They do it all! And when I say all, I mean ALL! From design, to molding, production and electronics. Every part of the game is made in the USA. While there, I had a chance to see all the different people, games, parts, and history everywhere I turned…

You can check out BSR at IAAPA every year! They are always cooking up something new.

Game day, the final design. 

In conclusion, with all that said and the many moving pieces to get the game create, here is the final race game look. Welcome to Route 66 Racer at Pacific Park on the world famous Santa Monica Pier. 

route-66-racer-midway-game-design-orlando-ayala

This process has far more around and in between than what is written in this article.

It was an amazing experience none-the-less. If you ever get the opportunity to play this game, please DM me or leave a comment below! Let me know what you think. As I write this, I realized, I haven’t had the honor in playing this game yet. I am alway moving and and always working.

So… I will see you at the gas pump! RACE YOU!


If you find this article interesting, it would mean the world to me if you shared this post with a graphic designer. I would love for you to follow me here and on social.

Never stop being creative!

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