There are the Academy Awards, and there’s the Daytona 500. But on Feb. 26, Daytona Day happens to fall on the same day of the 89th Academy Awards. In honor of that serendipitous event, we’ve combined the two to present the greatest racing movies of all time.
MGM / Sony / Universal
Days of Thunder
The high-octane 1990 flick — about a lowly stock-car driver who ends up at the Daytona 500 — that gave the American moviegoing public its first glimpse of life in the NASCAR fast lane. Written by Robert Towne (“Chinatown”) and nominated for a Best Sound Oscar, this also happened to be the movie where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman met. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films / Paramount
The Wachowski brothers (of "Matrix" fame) brought the popular Japanese anime cartoon — about a young driver (Emile Hirsch) raring to be the champion of the racing world — to dazzling eye-popping life in 2008.
Pixar's animated feature — about hotshot racing rookie Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who finds himself stranded in overlooked Radiator Springs on the way to the most important race of his life — featured the voices of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti and Lynda Petty, and was nominated for best Animated Feature Film (but lost out to "Happy Feet").
Somewhat of a prequel to the 1975 "Death Race 2000," Jason Statham starred in this 2008 film as Jensen Ames, a former NASCAR driver framed for killing his family. His only only chance to get out alive from Terminal Island Penitentiary is to win a race to the death.
A 2010 British documentary on Brazil's Ayrton Senna, regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. Senna won the F1 world championship three times before his tragic death in a Grand Prix accident at age 34 at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
The Cannonball Run
A 1981 action comedy starring Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Farrah Fawcett and Jackie Chan about a motley crew of misfits who are racing to get cross-country by whatever means possible.
Directed by John Frankenheimer ("The Manchurian Candidate," "Ronin"), this 1966 film about four F1 drivers starring James Garner, Toshiro Mifune and Eva Marie Saint, actually won three Academy Awards, for film editing, sound and sound effects.
Paul Newman — famously a motorsports enthusiast and part-time racer himself — starred alongside real-life wife Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner in this 1969 film, about the rise of a race circuit driver who dreams of winning the Indy 500.
Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby
Shake and Bake. The eminently quotable Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly 2006 starrer about top NASCAR driver whose top spot is put to the test when a French Formula One driver zooms onto the scene is a comedy classic.
Herbie Fully Loaded
Not an Oscar contender, but this 2005 update of "The Love Bug" starred Lindsay Lohan as a third-generation member of a NASCAR family who fulfills her dreams of racing with the help of — you guessed it, a loveable bug — is still pure clean fun.
The Ron Howard-directed true story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda's Formula One rivalry during the 1970s, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.
The Fast and the Furious
The original 2001 vehicle, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, looms large in the canon of street racing films and has spawned a whole franchise fleet.
The 1971 film depicting 24 hours of the grueling Le Mans race in France featuring actual footage captured during the 1970 race. Star Steve McQueen had reportedly turned down the James Garner role in "Grand Prix" before taking this part.