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Three Of The All-Time Best NASCAR Movies

NASCAR racing is probably not the first answer that pops into your head when someone asks you about sports movies. It is easy to see why NASCAR features dozens of Hollywood films. Powerful cars, skillful drivers, the drama of pit stops, and legions of fans cheering on their heroes. Everything about this motorsport screams action.

Movie directors have made dozens of NASCAR movies over the years. You do not have to be fans of the sport to enjoy these movies because they are often laced with drama and excitement and feature in-depth stories away from the track. Others are hilarious, as you are about to find out.

Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder is one of the most decisive racing movies ever filmed. On the one hand, it takes NASCAR racing seriously, and it is the main focus of the movie. However, it is pretty unrealistic with more crashes, wrecks, and fireballs than you can shake a stick at.

Tom Cruise plays Cole Trickle, a racing driving with dreams of winning the famous Indianapolis 500 race, but lacks the necessary funds to become a professional NASCAR driver. The movie follows his struggles of getting to grips with the muscle cars, his fierce rivalry with Rowdy Burns, and his eventual love affair with Dr. Claire Lewicki, played by Nicole Kidman.

The film works great as an action movie, just do not expect actual NASCAR racing to play out as it does in Days of Thunder.

 “Days of Thunder” by Paramount Pictures is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

NASCAR fans take their sports deadly seriously, but they do like to have fun, which is why Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is such a great NASCAR movie.

The sports comedy follows Ricky Bobby‘s (Will Ferrell) story, who lives by the motto “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Bobby is hugely successful but goes insane after a fiery crash and struggles to drive fast anymore. His wife leaves him for his best friend, and he learns to race again in an attempt to win back her affections.

While this is going on, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) joins NASCAR from Formula One and becomes the sport’s star. He and Ricky enter the Talladega 500, and it turns out to be an epic final race. The film’s climax is so unrealistic it is untrue, but it is a comedy, so what do you expect?Cars

“Cars” by Walt Disney Studios is licensed under CC BY 3.0 

Cars are different from the two other NASCAR racing movies on this list because it is a computer-animated comedy. Do not let the fact this is a cartoon put you off watching it because it is, frankly, brilliant.

Pixar Animations created a masterpiece with Cars. It follows Lightning McQueen, who is in a three-way tie with Strip “The King” Weathers and frequent runner-up Chick Hicks going into the Pistons Cup’s final race.

The rookie McQueen is desperate to win and become a NASCAR champion, but he gets into all sorts of scrapes along the way. Watch this terrific movie on your own or with your kids, and you will not be disappointed.

Honorable Mentions

Several other NASCAR-related movies are worth your time.

Greased Lightning is a 1977 movie based on the real-life story of Wendell Scott, the first African American to drive and win a car in NASCAR. It is a fascinating story.


Feel free to check out the 1973 film The Last American Hero. Jeff Bridges plays Junior Jackson, a real-life legend in NASCAR circles. Johnson praised the movie as being an accurate depiction of NASCAR’s early days.

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