Three modes of play are available to you. The standard Derby just has you trying to smash up your opponents before they can do the same to, on one of four courses. Meanwhile, Figure 8 puts you in the standard race on one of three courses in the style designated. Combining these two types is the Race Night mode, which is essentially your "Career" for the game.
In Race Night, you work through a week's worth of races, usually with two or three events per day on the various courses. Points and money are awarded for victory or a high position, with the cash available to spend on upgrades for your vehicle, making it all the more powerful. The points, meanwhile, are all tallied up to determine an overall winner.