Grand Prix (Williams, 1976)

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Quickie Version

 Semi-UTAD through either spinner; nudge balls coming out of the top saucer to hit the bumpers and rebound into the A and B drop targets to light double bonus.  Collect bonus at the saucers when lit for double maximum bonus [2X50K].  Resume UTAD and collect bonus.
 Go-To Flipper:  Balanced.

Full Detail

This is one of many top players’ favorite EMs, even though it’s largely a UTAD spinner-all-day game. Skill shot is to get the ball in the top saucer for 5K and a bonus advance. The ball will kick out towards the right bumper. You want to nudge to try to get the ball to knock down the A and B targets above and outside the bumpers. A+B lights double bonus. If you’re at a lower-level tournament or league where extra balls are on, getting A+B twice lights a return lane for an EB, three times awards the EB outright. If EBs are off, ignore the A and B targets once you have double bonus lit.

While the top saucer and the two middle-of-the-sides mini-slings below the side bonus-collect saucers each gives a bonus advance, the best way to advance the bonus is to shoot the spinners. There’s a second reason to do so: once the bonus for a side is maxed out at 50K [100K if doubled], the spinner value jumps from 100 per spin to 1,000 per spin. Most Grand Prixes have pretty active spinners, so this can be worth 20-30K per shot once lit.

Note that when you collect bonus on either side, that side’s spinner reverts to the 100-per-spin value. You can rebuild the bonus, of course, and collect it many times per ball. Let’s look at the math, though. Every 5 spins advances the bonus by one notch of 5,000. Thus, it takes 50 spins to max out the bonus at 50K. 50 spins when the spinner is lit is also worth 50K. So there’s nothing to be gained by collecting an undoubled bonus vs. continuing to shoot the spinner.

When you have double bonus lit, though, collect it whenever you can and then go back to the spinners to refill it. Your 50 spins to refill the bonus are worth 100K in this case, assuming you either eventually collect that side saucer or that side’s arrow is lit when the ball drains - - the end-of-ball collect bonus applies to whichever side’s arrow is lit at the time.

Ball control: use dead bounce passes a lot. [See video of Circuit Final.] Less-than-perfect live catches tend to roll up the flipper and drain out the gaps above the return lanes. Shatz passes are clearly impractical for the same reason, and post passes aren’t really necessary, just shoot either spinner.

Note to TDs: this game has a tendency to “skip” 100,000’s either when counting down side bonus collects or making a really zippy spinner shot. Check to make sure the scoring reels advance properly.

Key feeds: kickouts from the collect bonus side saucers. Can you let them dead bounce safely or not?

This page is one of many in the The Players Guide to Classic Pinball by written by Bob Matthews