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Best Racing Movies Ever Made

The best racing movies to give you that needed adrenaline rush.

By Mark TurnerPublished 6 years ago 5 min read

The best racing movies are for those movie fanatics who love action and sports, but want an extra speed fix. You are sure to catch a thrill like no other watching any of these films.

Just don't drive too fast on the highway on your way home from your movie night. Please, re-rank the list of your absolute favorites—these are that good. Which films capture the adrenaline that comes with a race? Here are our choices, varying from the most serious sports movies to comedies and animations.

Of course, the list of the best racing movies has to start off with The Fast and the Furious, starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Dominic Toretto, a street car racer who has a ton of fans, takes Brian under his wing to teach him the ropes of racing. However, Brian isn't a wannabe race car driver, he is an undercover cop who is pursuing a case that involves both Dom and his rival, Johnny Tran.

The first installment in The Fast and Furious franchise opened the gate to a total of ten movies, with more to come. That fact alone speaks for the success of these movies. Directed by Rob Cohen, the film was originally inspired by a magazine article, "Racer X" in Vibe magazine, which highlighted the illegal street racing in New York City. The original film grossed $207 million worldwide.

When you think of the best racing movies, an animated comedy is not typically the first to come to mind. Disney's Cars has changed that. The film was directed by John Lasseter and stars Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Wallis, Cheech Marin, Paul Dooley, George Carlin, Guido Quaroni, Jennifer Lewis, and much more talent. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film and nominated for two Academy Awards, the film inspired a sequel, second sequel, and a spinoff—Cars 2, Cars 3, and Planes. Plus, it was the highest grossing Walt Disney Pictures film at the time of the successful release, earning over $60 million during the opening weekend.

Famous racecar, Lightning McQueen is on his way to the Prison Cup Championship when he falls from the trailer, ending up somewhere in Radiator Springs. As he is completely lost, he, reluctantly at first, becomes friends with the town's natives. Will his friendships with Sally, Doc Hudson, and Mater override his desire to win one of the most important championships?

Will Ferrell plays Ricky Robby, a NASCAR star at the peak of his career. However, things change for him after the introduction of Jean Girard into the racing world. How will he pull himself back into the fame he once had, and outshine the newbie?

This hilarious sports comedy was directed by Adam McKay and written by McKay and Ferrell. Not your typical, high-paced, nail-biting race film, but definitely one to add to your list of favorites. Plus, the film grossed a total of $163 million worldwide, $47 million in the first week alone. It's Will Ferrell's second-largest movie opening to date.

Formula 1 racers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda have an intense rivalry. Their extreme need for adrenaline fuels their passion for riding, but how will this effect Suzy Miller and Marlene Lauda, the women in their lives, and their relationship with them?

As one of the best racing movies, Rush is based on true story of the 1976 rivalry. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, the film was released at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. It grossed a total of $98.2 million worldwide.

Tom Cruise stars in Days of Thunder, where a rivalry in the world of NASCAR begins between Cole Trickle and Rowdy Burns, a rookie and a veteran racer. However, the competition leads to serious injuries for both of the men, ultimately leading to a friendship between the two. Cole begins to recover quicker than Rowdy and he dedicates his first race after the accident to him by racing his car in the Daytona 500 against Russ Wheeler.

Directed by Tony Scott, the star cast includes Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes, and Caroline Williams. Plus, real NASCAR racers and commentators. It was nominated for Best Sound Academy Award.

Need for Speed is one of the best racing movies that was based on a video game series. The series of the same name was created by Electronic Arts. The film was directed by Scott Waugh and released in 2014 by Touchstone Pictures, grossing $203 million.

Tobey Marshall reluctantly teams up with Dino Brewster in order to keep his mechanic business successful, though Brewster has a rough reputation. Dino frames Tobey for a crime he did not commit, sending him to jail for two years. After he is released, he challenges Dino to a high-stakes race to get the ultimate revenge.

Jensen Ames gets the opportunity of a lifetime when his warden gives him a chance to be released from Terminal Island, the toughest prison in the country. He was imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, but only he knows the truth of this. He must race in the Death Race incognito as a driver named Frankenstein, equipped with grenade launchers and flamethrowers. Could he die trying to obtain his freedom?

This sci-fi action thriller was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and stars Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Joan Allen, and Ian McShane. It grossed a total of $75 million.

Ray Peyton Sr. will not have his daughter, Maggie Peyton even thinking about driving for NASCAR. He takes her to a junkyard to find her first car, however, Maggie doesn't know what's in store for her after she finds Herbie, the Volkswagen Beetle.

The best racing movies don't always have to be serious. This sports comedy film by Walt Disney Pictures successfully grossed over $144 million. Herbie: Fully Loaded stars Lindsay Lohan, Justin Long, Michael Keaton, Breckin Meyer, David Collins, and Matt Dillion. Plus, a bunch of NASCAR drivers including Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Though there were many Herbie films prior to this, making it the sixth and final installment, Herbie: Fully Loaded is still one of the most successful, lighthearted racing movies.

Will Ayrton Senna be able to become a Formula One racing champion for the third time? Senna's plot follows the legendary life of the Brazilian motor-racing champion and his struggles both on and off the track. It follows his story all the way up to his tragic death at the early age of 34. Brazil's national hero does not disappoint his fans, even in documentary form. This one will leave you thinking.

This documentary film is one of the best racing movies for the pure fact that it is about the monumental life of Ayrton Senna. Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film is unlike most action-packed films and allows an insight into a real-life hero for many.

Frank Bullitt is assigned by Walter Chalmers a normal case as a police officer, to keep watch over a witness, Johnny Ross, 48 hours prior to his trial. However, hit men are after Ross, which makes Bullitt's job a bit more complicated than he thought.

To complete the list of the best racing movies, we had to finish with the 1968 box office smash thriller, Bullitt. Directed by Peter Yates, the film was originally based onthe novel, Mute Witness by Robert L Fish. The film won the Best Film Editing Academy Award and is often known as one of the most influential movies to date, specifically due to the famous car chase scenes.

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About the Creator

Mark Turner

Retired Marine who takes better care of his car than his home

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