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Top 10 NASCAR movies
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The fact that this disaster is even listed is testament to the lack of good NASCAR movies in existence. James Caan leads a pack of speed crazies, including George Takei (Sulu from "Star Trek"), from track to track and song to terrible song. This is watchable only because it includes great race footage from the mid-1960's.
NASCAR Cameo: Curtis Turner and Tiny Lund, who walked out on the film during its world premiere in Charlotte when Turner stood up in the Carolina Theater and announced, "This is terrible! Tiny, let's get the hell out of here!" 9. "Six Pack" (1982)
Kenny Rogers is Brewster Baker, a down-on-his-luck driver who finds inspiration and direction from a group of six kids who also happen to be little mechanics. The oldest of the six pack is teenager Diane Lane, long before she became one of the sexiest women on the face of the planet.
Then-Winston Cup car owners Burt Reynolds and director Hal Needham brought us this story of love and racing. The tagline: "He's hot on the track... and off!" Unfortunately, when your crew chief is Jim Nabors and your sponsor is a fried chicken joint called The Cluck Bucket, you can only be so hot.
Richard Pryor plays Wendell Scott, the only regular African-American driver in NASCAR history. It's the Cliffs Notes version of Scott's life, but in an effort to document the hardship he had to face, "Lightning" turned out to be one of Scott's biggest disappointments. He never saw a dime from the production, swindled by Hollywood lawyers.
NASCAR Cameo: Bill Connell, longtime PA announcer at the Lowe's Motor Speedway lends his legendary pipes for a little play-by-play. 6. Thunder in Carolina" (1960)
Worth viewing to see footage of the 1959 Southern 500 at Darlington. Stars career character actor Rory Calhoun and Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper from "Gilligan's Island", who ironically plays the role of a little buddy.
NASCAR Cameo: Darlington maestros Buck Baker, Joe Weatherly and Curtis Turner in their prime and taming the Lady in Black.
Another Reynolds-Needham collaboration. I know, I know, it's not really a NASCAR movie, but it is still funny as hell.
NASCAR Cameo: Donnie Allison's number one Hawaiian Tropic Oldsmobile is driven by Mel Tillis and Busch Series team owner/NFL on FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw... straight to the bottom of a motel swimming pool. 4. "The Last American Hero" (1973)
Writer Tom Wolfe's legendary 1964 Esquire article on Junior Johnson comes to life with Jeff Bridges playing Elroy Jackson Jr., a.k.a. Junior Jackson. The tale of moonshine running and stock car racing also features Ned Beatty and Gary Busey. At the Charlotte premiere, Johnson gave it the thumbs up by saying, "It was pretty much the way it was." 3. "Speedway" (1968)
Shot in and around the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elvis Presley sings and drives his way to paying off a $145,000 IRS back tax bill. His love interest is Nancy Sinatra ,and the manager who fouled up the books is Bill Bixby from "The Incredible Hulk" TV show.
NASCAR Cameo: Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Tiny Lund and Richard Petty... making Speedway the only joint on-screen appearance by The King and The King.
I know, I know, NASCAR traditionalists will tell you that this movie was concocted by the devil himself, full of inaccuracies and just plain B.S. But the tale of Rowdy Burns vs. Cole Trickle vs. Russ Wheeler also revolutionized the way we look at the sport. How many TV commercials have copied director Tony Scott's style since? Every damn one. It also introduced us to one Miss Nicole Kidman, who is only slightly less hot than the sun.
NASCAR Cameo: Harry Gant, Neil Bonnett and Rusty Wallace, who proclaims that Trickle "is wide open and just wants to win... I like that!" 1. "43: The Richard Petty Story" (1974)
I'm not sure, but I think that they made 43 for $43. Keeping that in mind, how cool is it to see Richard Petty playing himself, killer race footage from throughout his career and father Lee Petty played by Darren McGavin, the dad from "A Christmas Story"?
NASCAR Cameo: The King playing himself is plenty. This is also the only place where you can find footage of his near-fatal crash at Darlington in 1970. Consider that a little pre-DVD bonus material. My lifelong search for a copy finally ended last summer when I was directed to a VHS copy that was up for auction on eBay. Why was it so hard to track down? I'm pretty sure Petty has rounded up all the copies and burned them.
Ryan McGee is the managing editor of