Back in 1978 or 1979 my parents got me my first 'hand-held' that I can remember: Digital Derby by Tomy. Was it really "digital" though? I suppose. But you moved a plastic car left and right which avoided other cars that were on literal belts.
What really made the game a thrill for me at the time beyond the pretty fast action was the sound. The engine and crash sound F/X were great.
Digital Derby was a fairly large device that I usually set down on the carpet and played either looming over it or lying on my stomach. It was easier for me to play that way than actually holding it for very long.
The steering wheel was such a size that I could actually play with a single hand - or even just a thumb.
You were supposed to complete as many laps as possible before the time ran out. I actually got to a point where I discovered how to hit a "sweet spot" in the middle and never crash into a single car. I thought I was really hot s+++ when I figured that out. Hah!
If you're curious, this is what the game looked and sounded like.
Also, here's a pretty priceless commercial about it. I don't remember seeing this back then, as I was living in Singapore at the time, but it's pretty classic. Can't believe they didn't feature the game's actual sound F/X, though!