Races in Burnout 1 take on much more of an arcade racer feel than later games such as Burnout Revenge and . The player races against four other rivals, but in addition to this the player also has to pass through checkpoints at periodic points throughout the track. The player has to pass through each checkpoint before the timer reaches 0 in order to continue racing. If the player cannot pass the next checkpoint before the timer runs out, they lose the race no matter what position they're in.
Tracks for Races, and all other events, come in two types. There are traditional three lap Loop tracks that take place on tracks located in America and Europe, and there are Route tracks which compile portions of Loop tracks, but take different routes to connect with each other. However as the name suggests, Route tracks are point to point races.