The best NASCAR movies you have to race to watch

NASCAR is not among the most respected sports in the world, in fact it is not even the most respected form of auto racing (this distinction belongs to Formula 1). But like any high-speed competition, it has seen its share of tragedies, dramatic comebacks, and photo-finishes. A truly great NASCAR movie has to strike the perfect balance between embracing the intensity of the sport while also being self-conscious to endear itself to its fan base. Few NASCAR films have reached this platonic ideal but many have attempted, with varied results. Here are the 8 best NASCAR movies of all time, from the dramatic and compelling to the exhilaratingly absurd.

Talladega Nights (2006)

John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Image via Sony Pictures

No movie better captures the fun and spirit of NASCAR Talladega nights. The movie is clearly a comedy and its depiction of NASCAR and its fans and drivers is satirical. However, it’s hard not to watch this without feeling the need for speed. Team Shake and Bake’s final race at the conclusion of the movie is really exciting. There are also some moments here that will resonate with NASCAR fans, in the same way Spinal tap It strikes a chord with some of the musicians. In good satire, there is always a healthy dose of truth. It should also be mentioned Will Ferrellprayer scene in Talladega nights It is among the funniest pieces He’s done it before and his kids threatening to come to their grandfather “like a spider monkey” will never be funny.

Related: ‘Days of Thunder’ is basically ‘Top Gun’-Lite (which means it’s still pretty cool)

Cars (2006)

cars, Pixar’s race car movie is really a movie about not being an arrogant idiot and realizing how much we all depend on the support of others. It’s also a loving tribute to the roadside towns dotted across Arizona, New Mexico, and other stops along Route 66. Although its plot generally only involves NASCAR, the film remains a celebration of classic American car culture, at that time long ago. When you hit the road, crisscross the country, and don’t care if you got a little lost, it felt like an exciting and romantic idea. If this charming movie doesn’t inspire you to take a road trip, neither will.

Racing Dreams (2009)

This 2009 documentary by Marshall Curry It’s a fantastic movie about youth, ambition and race car driving that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The film profiles aspiring young NASCAR drivers who compete in the World Karting Association, a youth league that serves as a training ground for NASCAR. It’s a bit like a file Racing version of Hope Dreams But perhaps it is more inspiring. Fun fact: This movie marks the first feature film to have him credited Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”.

Days of Thunder (1990)

Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder (1990)
Image via Paramount Pictures

Honestly, any racing movie directed by Tony Scott And championship Tom CruiseAnd Nicole KidmanAnd Robert Duvall It is included in this list, if for no other reason than out of respect for everyone involved. Thunder days It is, unlike some of the other films on this list, a relatively serious and straightforward portrayal of NASCAR. It’s a bit like Best Down to earth but not quite as memorable and lacking in an exceptional sequel. The movie, like everything the Scott brothers have been involved in, looks beautiful and even features Talladega nights Co-star John C Reilly in a supporting role. (I didn’t expect John C. Reilly to be the king of NASCAR movies but here we are.) If you are intrigued Thunder days And I haven’t seen it, forget the trailer and just watch it This is a great clip instead of him. It is pure cinema.

Greased Lightning (1977)

Richard Pryor in Greased Lightning
Image via Warner Bros.

No, it’s not an adaptive feature fat The song, it is Richard PryorIt was his surprising turn as Wendell Scott, who was one of NASCAR’s first black drivers. It’s a little strange to see Pryor in a drama but he does a great job, injecting the character with just the right amount of charisma. Pam Greer Co-stars with (inexplicably) folk rock legend Richie Havens. It’s a weird cast, but this no-show movie is surprisingly good and delivers an interesting dose of feel-good inspiration.

The Last American Hero (1973)

Jeff Bridges and Valerie Perrin in The Last American Hero (1973)
Image via 20th Century Fox

This gem is a star Jeff Bridges As another real-life NASCAR driver, Junior Johnson, who was the subject of Tom Wolfe’s article on which this movie is based. Johnson was a smuggler who stopped sailing to become one of NASCAR’s most legendary drivers. He later had a successful second career as a team owner. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan pardoned Johnson for his conviction. If this isn’t a NASCAR story, then what is? Another American hero It’s a rowdy fun time, on par with many of the great ’70s car movies, such as Le Mans And Gone in 60 seconds.

Stroker Ace (1983)

Burt Reynolds in Stroker Ace (1983)
Image via Universal Pictures

You really can’t have a list of car-related movies without it Burt Reynolds Make at least one appearance. His comedy movie in 1983 Stroker Ace Not exactly one of his best outings but it pays tribute to the love for motorsports, with legendary NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. Stroker Ace is a weird movie with plenty of jokes that don’t quite land but will gently warm the heart of any NASCAR fan. It is the duty of any movie fan to take at least one spin on a Burt Reynolds movie.

Speedway (1968)

Speedway he Elvis film, which is of its own kind. Elvis wasn’t a great actor but he was a fun screen presence and gravitated towards some exotic material. In this movie, he co-starred with Nancy Sinatra who plays, of all things, an IRS agent who falls in love with Elvis’ NASCAR driver character. Speedway Not a cinematic masterpiece, but if you fall into the middle of the Venn chart for NASCAR and Elvis fans, this is definitely the movie for you. The incredibly fake-looking sets are all painted in bright late 1960s psychedelic colors and the background actors seem to be borrowed from a set. Austin Powers. It’s kind of cool and celebrates NASCAR but it might be a less realistic movie than it is cars.

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