Most racing games take the easy way out with music and simply cram the disc full of licensed tracks that most people, if they have any sense, switch off rather quickly and replace with their own custom soundtracks.
There have, however, been exceptions over the years: the original Burnout featured a soundtrack that changed according to how well (or, more accurately, badly) you were doing; the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted (i.e. the 2005 one from EA Black Box, not the more recent Criterion effort) featured some rather cinematic-sounding music whenever you were being chased by police; and, of course, Black Rock Studio’s Split/Second featured one of the best game soundtracks I’ve ever heard, let along just confined to the racing game genre.
For those unaware, Split/Second’s concept was that all the racers were contestants on a reality TV show, and everything about the game’s aesthetic helped back this up, from the heavily-filtered, stylized graphics to the shaky camerawork and, of course, the music. The soundtrack itself was dynamic and responded to your performance, beginning relatively simply as the race began and growing in intensity as you came closer to the finish line. This particular track (or, more accurately, a variation thereof) was used in the “Elite” races that concluded each of the game’s “episodes,” effectively acting as “boss” races against significantly tougher opponents than in the other events. Pretty much anyone who has played the game will tell you that this piece of music played a big part in making the Elite races incredibly exciting.
Split/Second concluded with a cliffhanger, believe it or not, and sadly, due to Disney’s disbanding of Black Rock Studio, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see that resolved. Damn you, Disney!
If you like what you hear, you can grab the whole soundtrack legally and for free from Soundcloud here.