DRIVING • June 2020
While the world travels a little less and spends more time at home, it’s a good chance to catch a few of those classic films that you might not have seen before (or rewatch an old favourite). Rebecca Banks rounds up some of the most epic motorsport movies of all time to quench your need for speed
The first of three films to star Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Cruise plays a young stock car driver Cole Trickle, who is marked for greatness. Cole’s famous temper and devil-may-care attitude threatens his role in the high-pressure environment of the NASCAR paddock, and it’s thrills and spills aplenty, both on and off the track. The Jerry Bruckheimer film was the second time the producer and Cruise teamed up – they had made Top Gun four years earlier – and the movie received praise for its action sequences, score and acting performances.
In this hilarious comedy set in the world of NASCAR, Talladega Nights stars Will Ferrell at his funniest alongside a brilliant John C Reilly, outrageous Sacha Baron Cohen and star-studded support cast. Ricky Bobby is the leading light of NASCAR thanks to his long-standing pact with best friend and team-mate Cal Naughton. But his time at the top is threatened by the ruthless Frenchman Jean Girard arriving from Formula 1 and a shaking of his confidence after a huge crash.
This biopic of the man, the myth and the legend that was Ayrton Senna quickly shot to the top of the list for many people in their favourite motorsport movie rankings. Written with passion by lifetime Senna fan Manish Pandey and skilfully directed by Asif Kapadia, this retelling of the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s incredible life and heart-breaking death is riveting from start to finish. Featuring real clips from the F1 and private archives, this film provides unprecedented and previously unseen footage of the Brazilian hero and had the full backing of his family on release.
A dramatic retelling of the rivalry between the late, great racing drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and directed by Ron Howard, this is 123 minutes of adrenaline. With Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl respectively in the starring roles, the film is set in the glamorous 1970s period of Formula 1 and the incredible 1976 season. Both men were prepared to go to every length to lift the World Championship cup at a time when any small error could mean the difference between life and death. Brühl’s incredible portrayal of Lauda saw him achieve critical acclaim.
This is the newest of motorsport films on the block, but fast became a viewer and critic favourite. Starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, it follows the story of a team of American engineers determined to enter a competitive Ford GT40 entry into the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours, taking on the dominant and mighty marque Ferrari. It’s based on the real-life story of Henry Ford and the mission he gave to automotive designer Carroll Shelby and British driver and mechanic Ken Miles to create a brand-new racing car.
And finally, one to watch with the whole family. Pixar Animation Studios’ Cars stars the likes of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman and Michael Keaton and follows the adventures of Lightning McQueen and friends. As an aspiring race car champion in the Piston Cup, Lightning lives life in the fast lane and he wants it all – success and fame. But an unexpected road trip on a very dusty Route 66 teaches him some important life lessons and shows him what he’s been missing. And, if you love it, why not check out Cars 2 (2011) and Cars 3 (2017)?
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