Car Culture & Entertainment

The 10 Best Racing Movies Ever—Revisited

“Grand Prix” is a 1966 film about Formula One racing. (Image/MGM Studios)

What are the best racing movies of all time?

This could be among the most important questions we can ask ourselves at a time when social distancing calls for most of us to spend more time at home. As more of us begin to hunker down at home, it stands to reason that many of us will also spend more time in front of our televisions.

We’ll watch news, TV shows, whatever sports programming we can find—and we’ll watch movies.

But not just any movies. We’ll watch racing movies.

We worked with our friends at Summit Racing to put that question out to their social media audience: What is the best racing movie of all time?

Opinions varied, as opinions do. And combing through the responses, several movies stood out.

There’s a difference between what a person might consider “best,” and what a person might consider their favorite.

People didn’t necessarily vote on which racing movie they believed to be the best-written, or best-acted, or had the highest production quality.

People voted for the movies they liked the most. And despite all of our various attempts through the years, we think most of us can agree that our opinions about others’ opinions tend not to sway those opinions. Turns out that people like whatever they like, and most don’t bother to check in with us first! Jesus wept.

First, let us shout out:

  • “Rush”
  • “Gumball Rally”
  • “Grand Prix”
  • “Driven” (the 2001 Sly Stallone one, we think)

All four were frequently mentioned racing movies that finished just outside of the top 10.

And with that, here are, per the opinions of OnAllCylinders readers and Summit Racing fans, the best racing movies ever.

Days of Thunder

(Image/Paramount)

If we were picking a winner based on math, “Days of Thunder” would be it. (It was mentioned more than any other.)

This 1990 film starring Tom Cruise is a largely unrealistic, yet ridiculously entertaining story of a young NASCAR driver (Cruise) being paired with a veteran crew chief (Robert Duvall), and racing against rivals—Yandu from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the blonde dude in the Zorro mask from “The Princess Bride.”

Cruise, playing the part of cocky rookie driver Cole Trickle, hooks up with future ex-wife Nicole Kidman, and drives a car owned by Cousin Eddie from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Fun fact: John C. Reilly plays a mid-level role as a pit crew member, and this movie came out long before anyone know who John C. Reilly even was.

We’re not picking a winner, and we’re certainly not calling “Days of Thunder” the best racing movie of all time. But it IS several people’s favorite racing movie, and we’re super-cool with that.

Two Lane Blacktop

(Image/IndieWire)

Cult favorite among drag racing fans. Has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Stars a primer-gray 1955 Chevy. (And singer James Taylor, who doesn’t sing any of his hit songs while he’s driving around.) But don’t let that discourage you.

Watch it.

Le Mans

(Image/Hollywood Reporter)

It’s a movie about the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans in France. And it stars Steve McQueen.

Cars

(Image/Pixar Animation Studios)

It’s an animated Disney-Pixar film which has nothing to do with endurance racing at Le Mans in France. And it stars Lightning McQueen.

Ford v. Ferrari

(Image/Vital Thrills)

And we’re back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only in 1966.

2019’s “Ford v. Ferrari” was easily the most referenced modern film, and many argue it’s the best racing movie from a filmmaking standpoint. It won two Academy Awards (Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing.) Starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, “Ford v. Ferrari” is the story of young Carrol Shelby teaming up with Ford Motor Co. to build a racecar that could compete with Ferrari more than 50 years ago.

We went into this movie stoked about Damon’s portrayal of Carrol Shelby (and it WAS good) but Bale’s performance as driver and builder Ken Miles completely steals the show.

Everything about this movie is very good.

Heart Like a Wheel

(Image/Hollywood Reporter)

This is the Shirley Muldowney story. Most of you know who that is. If you don’t, and you’re looking for ways to kill time at home, we strongly encourage you to look her up.

Facebook commenter Sabrina K. said “This movie changed my life.”

The Cannonball Run

(Image/Movie Web)

One might call this a comedy more than a racing movie (of which the same can also be said about the next movie on this list), but that didn’t stop tons of people from calling it out as an all-time favorite. This 1981 movie stars Burt Reynolds, his mustache, and Farrah Fawcett.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

(Image/The Toledo Blade)

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly aren’t for everyone. But they are for us.

We’re pretty sure you’ve seen this one already if you’ve ever had an inkling to. If you’re on the fence about it and you like either racing or laughing, we recommend giving it a shot.

Hot Rod (also called “Rebel of the Road”)

(Image/WhichCar)

This is a made-for-TV movie released in 1979. If that doesn’t whet your appetite to watch this, we don’t know what will. (We feel as if that comment applies regardless of whether you consider the movie good or bad.)

Six Pack

Two words: Kenny Freaking Rogers.

Also stars Diane Lane and Anthony Michael Hall before anyone knew who they were. For whatever it’s worth, 91% of Google users who voted said they liked this movie. Not that it matters, because Kenny Rogers stars in this.

We may be exaggerating our enthusiasm for Kenny Rogers’ acting chops, but he sure knows a thing or two about raising gearhead orphans in “Six Pack.”

Update 3-21-2020: We just learned this morning that Rogers, 81, has passed away. We’re so glad that “Six Pack” made this list. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rogers family during what must be an especially challenging time for family and friends to gather.

Tags:

14 Comments

  1. Jerrry Vitzthum says:

    REDLINE 7000 not bad. FEVER HEAT, Poor but in my hometown.

  2. Gavin Haasl says:

    Cannonball! starring David Caridine is also a classic.

  3. Doug French says:

    Driven . Wendell Scott

  4. Doug French says:

    Greased Lighting

  5. Kenny Sutton says:

    Icannot believe Rush and Grand Prix did not make. Bogus list!

  6. Grand Prix was a good one
    Drag racer good movie
    America nitro
    Funny car summer
    Drag racer
    Last America hero

  7. American graffiti?

  8. Running on empty

  9. claud howell says:

    Bullet, and the Original Gone in 60 seconds

  10. I cant believe, you folks, didnt even mention, Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry Best car movie ever made, Barring none. The chase, that will never be forgotten, all to get money to race. Vic Marrow was the producer, he died after this movie was made, doing a sequal, from a helicopter crash

  11. Pingback: The 10 Best Racing Movies Ever—Revisited

  12. Wow ! Thanks for information

  13. I first heard this song and the album that it came from in 1976. I am 50 now and the magic of Linda’s voice has never waned. We will always love you, Linda in Film Heart Like a Wheel. If you feel weakness in your body you may take Viagra to increase your sexual power but first consult your doctor and take proper guidance for quality product check https://moreforce.com/lexapro-and-viagra/. It is safe for health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.