Racing movies range from the thrilling and exciting to the hilarious and poignant. They have featured some of our greatest stars and even cartoon characters. While some are targeted for a very specific audience others appeal to a broad range of movie-goers. Here is a look back at some memorable car racing themed movies.
The Speed Kings – 1913
Racing movies date back to the early days of the automobile. This is the first recorded film about racing, an eight-minute movie starring Fatty Arbuckle.
Kid Auto Races at Venice – 1914
Another early cinematic effort involving auto racing was also another comedy. This film stars the legendary Charlie Chaplin who plays a racing spectator who keeps getting in the way.
Burning Up – 1930
The first “talkie” to involve auto racing was this 1930 drama. That had a minimal impact on both movies and racing.
Johnny Dark – 1954
Tony Curtis plays an engineer in this long-distance racing film about a race from Canada to Mexico.
Thunder in Carolina – 1960
Before he played the Skipper in Gilligan’s Island, Alan Hale Jr. played a role in this movie about rivals in the Southern 500. Two years later, Hale would act in another racing film called “The Iron Maiden”, a racing comedy.
Viva Las Vegas – 1964
Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret team up in this racing musical. Yes, racing musical.
The Great Race – 1965
This was one of the first big budget racing films that starred Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a long-distance race.
Fireball 500 – 1966
Campy 1960s racing films hit their stride in this :classic” starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.
LeMans – 1971
After a series of silly racing films in the mid to late 1960s, Steve McQueen brought some realism back to racing films in this 1971 drama.
Herbie Rides Again – 1974
This sequel to The Love Bug takes Herbie from the world of demolition derbies to that of auto racing. Herbie would go to LeMans three years later and onto a series of other adventures following that.
Days of Thunder – 1990
NASCAR came to the masses in this blockbuster that starred Tom Cruise. The film is said to be loosely based on Tim Richmond.
Talladega Nights – 2006
Will Ferrell stars as a larger than life NASCAR driver in this 2006 film. The film gave birth to the character of Ricky Bobby.
Cars – 2006
This animated film started the Cars franchise and gave birth to Lightning McQueen, a race car who learns humility in Radiator Springs.
Racing films have starred legendary actors like James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Abbot and Costello and more. They tend to reflect our own interests in cars and racing at the time.
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