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In single player mode, races are unlocked after completion of "Liberty City Choppers", when Terry Thorpe calls the player by phone about a race in Alderney, the first a series of 12 races. After completion of a race, a new location in the city is marked for the next race, which the player can participate in their own leisure; players who lose a race may retry by returning to the original race marker.
To race, the player must find any motorcycle and make their way to the start line. In every race, Terry or Clay Simons will be seen joining the player in the race, while the bulk of other competitors consists of random members from rival biker factions such as the Angels of Death and Uptown Riders, who are usually seen riding gang vehicles, or in some cases with the Uptown Riders, unique bikes (see Notes). It is important to note that the player must finish first, and that their gang member (Terry or Clay) winning does not count as a win to the player.
Unlike the races in GTA IV, traffic is reduced or completely disabled for races in TLAD, allowing the player to focus on the course and other races.
Whilst racing the player only has access to a bat to be used to knock other racers off their bike. This is accomplished by pressing "X" (Xbox), "Square" (PS3) or the left mouse button (PC) to make the player character swing it to his left, while "B" (Xbox), "Circle" (PS3) or the right mouse button (PC) triggers the player character to swing the bat to the right. The longer the player holds the button or key the more powerful the hit is; hitting the button quickly will take several hits to knock a racer off their bike, but holding it for the maximum time will knock them off first hit. The other racers can hit back, knocking the player off course, although it does not directly deal health damage to the player.
Winning your first race will net the player $500, with each additional race won increasing the pot by $250, up to a maximum of $3,250 per race. The reward for coming in first in all twelve races is a Hakuchou at your safehouses.
- Although Terry or Clay are usually seen joining the player in races, their racing AI are as aggressive as those of other competitors, even attempting to hit the player with their bat. This is justified by their text messages to the player post-race stating how they do not distinguish between friend or foe when they race.
- Knocking 69 racers off their bikes wins the player the "Get Good Wood" achievement/trophy.
- The races are the only other instances when the Hakuchou Custom and Double T Custom may appear outside missions featuring Malc and DeSean.
- While it may be tempting due to its speed, the NRG 900 is a virtually impossible bike to steer and corner during these races, and is not recommended. The Bati 800 is a much better choice for its tight handling and good traction on sand (as several races take place on various beaches around Liberty City).