NASCAR is not one of the most prestigious sports in the world, nor is it the most prestigious type of automobile racing (that honor goes to Formula 1). However, it has experienced its fair share of catastrophes, thrilling comebacks, and photo finishes, just like any high-speed competition.
A genuinely great NASCAR film must achieve the ideal harmony between appreciating the intensity of the sport and having the maturity to affectionately parody its fandom. Few NASCAR films have succeeded in achieving this objective, but many have tried, with varying degrees of success. These are the 10 best movies about NASCAR for when you’re itching for the fast-paced, dramatic anticipation of this riveting sport.
10. Greased Lightning (1977)
This is the real-life account of Wendell Scott, the nation’s first African American NASCAR racer, who finds his community exactly as he left it after returning from World War II. He learns all the county roads with the help of startup capital for a taxicab business. With his newfound understanding, a chance with some severe repercussions emerges.
An opportunity to visit the nearby racetrack results in the birth of a race car driver. In 1950s America, ethnic divisions were a normal aspect of life. You join him in his struggle for justice, equality, and the American ideal. With its compelling true-story plot and dynamic characters, Greased Lightning is one of the best movies about NASCAR.
9. Days of Thunder (1990)
Tim Daland, a used car salesman, chooses Cole Trickle, who just had a successful open wheels career, to be his driver in the NASCAR Cup series. He is paired with famed former crew chief Harry Hogge after showcasing his talent. Cole confides in Harry in an effort to succeed in a sport he knows very little about after a turbulent rookie debut and a lack of team camaraderie. This is a whirlwind of competitive fervor and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, securing Days of Thunder a spot among the best movies about NASCAR.
8. The Last American Hero (1973)
When Elroy “Junior” Jackson (Jeff Bridges) returns home to assist his father Elroy, Sr. (Art Lund), and brother Wayne (Gary Busey), they are putting homemade moonshine whiskey into bottles as they race through the countryside of rural North Carolina in their Mustang. The boys’ father cautions them to show respect for Collins when they make jokes about him.
On the delivery run that evening, Junior avoids capture by listening to the police on his CB radio. Later, he runs a roadblock, forcing Collins to jump into a muddy ditch. Collins responds by detonating Mr. Jackson’s whiskey distillery the following day and taking him into custody. This is only the beginning of this winding story, leaving The Last American Hero among the best movies about NASCAR.
7. Stroker Ace (1983)
Stroker Ace, a champion NASCAR racer, is at the pinnacle of his career but is growing weary of following orders. The fried-chicken tycoon who finances the racing team of the main character, a well-known NASCAR driver, conflicts with him. He spends the remainder of the film attempting to bed the attractive Pembrook in between revolting against his sponsor’s promotional stunts, such as having him dress up in a gigantic chicken suit. This classic film is clearly among the best movies about NASCAR.
6. Talladega Nights (2006)
Due to his “win at all costs” mentality, Ricky Bobby, the sensation in NASCAR stock car racing, is a national idol. He and his devoted racing teammate, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr., are a fearless pair known to their fans as “Shake” and “Bake” for their propensity to finish so many races in the top two spots, with Cal always coming in second.
Jean Girard, a flashy French Formula One racer, challenges “Shake” and “Bake” for control of NASCAR, forcing Ricky Bobby to confront his own problems and compete against Girard for the title of the sport’s best driver. This is an American classic and fan favorite, one of the best movies about NASCAR.
5. Six Pack (1982)
An itinerant race car driver makes a brief stop in a small Texas town and discovers that his stock car, which was pulled by a trailer behind his RV, has just been swiftly and neatly stripped. The miscreants, who are revealed to be six orphan youngsters, are pursued by him. He has no legal options because the unscrupulous local sheriff keeps most of the loot in exchange for not placing the kids in an orphanage.
They are charming rogues, and he is charming them back. When they stow away with the Sheriff because they don’t like their deal with him, he finds himself taking on the role of a reluctant parent. He starts to establish himself on the racing circuit as a result of their enthusiasm and amazing mechanical knowledge. This is an underrated classic and undeniably one of the best movies about NASCAR.
4. Speedway (1968)
Steve Grayson (Elvis Presley), a slick stock car racer, must make enough money on the track to get his manager Kenny Donford (Bill Bixby), who lost money betting on horse races, out of jail. Steve tries his hardest to win a number of races at Charlotte Speedway with the assistance of his guru, Abel Esterlake (William Schallert). Along the way, he starts to develop feelings for Susan Jacks (Nancy Sinatra), the attractive IRS agent in charge of Kenny’s case. A stunning Elvis film, this is among the best movies about NASCAR.
3. Cars (2006)
When Lightning McQueen, an ambitious rookie race vehicle, is unintentionally diverted to the tranquil Route 66 village of Radiator Springs, he learns that life is about the journey rather than the finish line.
While traveling across the country to compete against two seasoned professionals in the big Piston Cup Championship in California, McQueen meets the eccentric residents of the town, including Sally, a stylish 2002 Porsche, Doc Hudson, a mysterious 1951 Hudson Hornet, and Mater, a rusty but dependable tow truck, who help him realize that there are things other than awards, fame, and sponsorship that are more significant. This family-friendly classic is among the best movies about NASCAR.
2. Red Line 7000 (1965)
Red Line 7000 is the tale of three racing drivers, three ladies, and their persistent concern for their lovers’ safety. For Pat Cassarian, Jim Loomis and Mike Marsh drive. Prior to Holly’s expected arrival, Jim loses his life in a race. She decides to stay because she lacks the funds to return. Ned Arp, a young and aspirational talent, joins the group and starts courting Julie, Pat’s sister, right away.
Dan McCall, a womanizer who is third on the team, is joined by his current Parisian girlfriend Gabrielle. Thus, “Whom with whom?” is the primary theme of this film. This old-school classic is one of the best movies about NASCAR.
1. The Dale Earnhardt Story (2004)
Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s life story begins with his early years spent with his father, Ralph, who raced for a living but initially desired more for his son. Dale’s father supports him when he drops out of high school to pursue a career in driving full-time and displays a reluctant sense of pride when he succeeds at first. Dale pushed himself to be the best since he was armed with many of his father’s teachings.
He attracted both supporters and critics with his aggressive track antics. One of those close friends, fellow racer Neil Bonnett, passed away, and Dale was greatly saddened by it. The rivalry between the two men is amply portrayed, and Darrell Waltrip was obviously a critic. Off the beaten path, Dale’s tenacity has an effect on two marriages. This stunning story is an undeniable classic and clearly one of the best movies about NASCAR.