This September sees the release of one of the most long awaited films for anyone with an interest in motorsport. Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ (although younger fans may also be waiting for Turbo, Dreamworks studio’s tale of a snail who dreams of competing at the Indy 500!) so, Carwitter has compiled a run down of the top five motorsport related films to keep you interested between now and release date…and fill in the gaps on those oh too frequent motorsport free Sundays in August. – Oh and just so you know, Stallone’s Driven is nowhere near this list!
5 – Days of Thunder
Yes you read it correctly, I put Days of Thunder in my top 5 but bear with me, if you can look past the fact that it is basically Top Gun with NASCARs (what’s wrong with that?! Top Gun is a good film!), the many continuity errors, and the fact that some of the crash footage is used multiple times, it is actually quite a good film. Some of it is taken from real life too – the scene where Cruise races back to the hotel with his competitor after the meeting with NASCAR bosses, wrecking hire cars is based on an incident involving Mario Andretti in the late 60’s, when he and Bobby Rahal were refused the chance to start the Italian Grand Prix due to competing in an Indy Car event the previous day. Robert Duval as crew chief Harry Hogg is brilliant (well he always is) but I cant look at Randy Quaid without thinking of National Lampoon’s many excursions. Yes you may be able to see where its going from the outset, and there are a few sporting codes overlooked during the final race scene, but that, and those outlined earlier overlooked its worth a watch to fill that motorsport void.
4 – Le Mans
Ah, Le Mans! Steve McQueen, Porsche, Ferrari and very little dialogue in the first half an hour. This is basically McQueen giving himself the opportunity to sample the Le Mans experience 1st hand. the film was shot at the 1970 race but McQueen didn’t actually take part. The race itself was the only time that the Le Mans 24 hour race started as a standing start on the grid, before hand it had always been the dash across the track to the car, since then it has always been a rolling start following a pace car lap; however, back to the film! McQueen’s character Michael Delaney returns to Le Mans 1 year after being involved in a fatal accident, and between stints finds himself with the widow of the other driver. Delaney’s car is later involved in another massive accident, and out of the race until asked to step in and drive one of the sister cars. Enzo Ferrari failed to cooperate with the wishes of the studio when the film was pitched, so the Ferraris seen are private entries. Although shot during the 24 hour race itself, the crews returned to La Sarthe to film the action scenes…with mixed results. Two big accidents were not caught on film, and one resulted in the loss of the lower part of the leg for former racing driver David Piper, and thus forcing him to look for work by bankrupting journalists! The film is really one for the die hards, there is little or no back story, but the sight and sound of those cars now at this time more than makes up for that.
3 – Grand Prix
Like Le Mans, Grand Prix was filmed during the F1 season, with the stunts and storyline added afterwards. Following the F1 season and a select group of drivers, the film sets about showing the glamour (Monaco) and very soon after, the tragedy of the sport. There is a lot of character development, you can guess who some of the people are supposed to be, even though some of them appear as cameos. It’s a long one this, nearly 3 hours…but worth it every once in a while. Again for more than anything than the period footage of some great cars, there are a few over exuberant action scenes, and a very young Martin Brundell in the crowd at the British Grand Prix!
2 – Senna
Senna number 2 I hear you cry, i’m afraid so. Its a wonderful documentary film it has to be said, brought to life more so by the addition of footage mere mortals like you and I never usually get to see. We all know the story, one of the few times you go into a film knowing exactly how its going to end, but maybe not knowing quite as much about what went on in the middle. With the internet, Twitter, specific tv stations broadcasting F1 and other motorsports nowadays we have a greater insight than we did in the 80’s, and 90’s and that’s what makes this film so great! I can’t see 20 years from now a film called Multi 21 being quite as edge of your seat as this one.
So what motorsport film can topple Senna to the number 1 spot? Well, this one..
1 – Love the Beast
Love the Beast for those of you who don’t know is a documentary film by Eric Bana (yes that one) about him, his friends, his family and his car that he has owned since he was 16 (Ford Falcon XB Coupe) and takes you on a journey as he prepares it to take on one of the toughest classic rallys in the world, Targa Tasmania.
Bana comes across as a normal guy not overawed by the success he has gained by the films he has been in, in fact it would appear he would rather be out racing than attending his own film premiers. There’s plenty of personal home footage and in car action, as well as some of the best, most honest and open footage regarding lower level motorsports and total petrolheadness. Looking at the DVD cover alone and seeing the names Eric Bana, Jeremy Clarkson and Jay Leno should be enough to tempt you…if it isn’t, or hasn’t you really should make the change!
I know I’ve missed a few out here, but I have my reasons. Rendezvous is best viewed on YouTube. Talledega Nights is funny yes, but really not one of the best, one could say the same about the Herbie films, but the ones I really considered including…but couldn’t bring myself to were the Disney Pixar Cars films. Anyway i’m sure you have your own ideas on this, am I right, or wrong? Over to you.