In one week, E3 will reveal just about every major game you will be able to play in the next year. For racing game fans, these are the big ones expected at the big show:
Blur - Activision is hoping for a Call Of Duty-scale new racing franchise, from Bizarre Creations. Realistic cars, low-stress handling, mixed with Mario Kart -style pick-ups on the track. (Expected for all major platforms)
Split/Second - Disney's Hollywood-action racing game, includes huge track-deforming effects that players can trigger, like destroying gas stations or causing buildings to fall and alter the course. (Expected for all major platforms. Preview here.)
Need for Speed x3? - EA's got a Need For Speed: Nitro for the Wii, the more realistic Need For Speed: Shift for higher-end consoles and PC. Plus there's a Need for Speed: World free PC game coming. Maybe we'll see that too?
Fuel - Codesmasters' racing game with its massive world will be out the week of E3, which means it'll maybe show up at the big show.
MotorStorm Arctic Edge - Sony's PSP revival is supposed to include a cold-weather edition of the MotorStorm franchise, the one that pits cars against trucks against motorcycles against craggy cliffs. (PSP/PS2. Preview here.)
UPDATE: More avid racing games than I pointed out that I excluded the deserving Dirt 2. Consider that sin confessed publicly. Game's coming to all current platforms, handhelds and PC.
Bond Racing project - Bizarre Creations is expected to be working on a James Bond racing game of some sort, but we don't' hold out much hope that it will be at E3.
New Forza? - It's rumored, and it seems awfully plausible.
Gran Turismo PSP or 5? - GTPSP, announced in 2004, is Duke Nukem Forever of racing games. Despite the game being a favorite E3 guess of podcast pundits such as the guys on Listen Up, who wants to bet that a portable game or it's long-in-the-making first full-sized PS3 big brother will be at E3?
What's the trend here?
EA and Activision are in a deathmatch/deathrace with their competing racing franchises, pitting the branding power of Activision against the franchise success of the slightly faded Need For Speed line. In general, those games and the others point to racing games tilting more toward the arcade-y side of things.
While the racing games of E3 2009 look to have an arcade style, the cars themselves will likely continue to trend toward realistic visual styles. After all, with Nintendo coasting on sales of Mario Karts for Wii and DS — plus having just released ExciteBots Trick Racing — the chief purveyors of cutesy cars are likely on the racing sidelines for this year's big show.