Worst racing films

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Time for Sylvester Stallone to avert his gaze…

Red Line 7000 (1965)

This crash-fest-cum-soap opera is conspicuously absent from many books on director Howard Hawks, and with good reason. Starring James Caan, and rooted in NASCAR, the best bit has to be the sequence where hero ‘Mike Marsh’ battles epic oversteer only to pit complaining that, “It’s pushing…”

Road Racers (1959)

A rule of thumb: the better the poster, the worse the film. The poster for this B-movie is outstanding. A driver causes the death of a fellow racer on track, prompting his father to disown him and sponsor a rival. The tagline “Screeching hell on wheels… Is it sport or murder?” says it all.

The Racers (1955)

On the plus side, this Kirk Douglas melodrama has a decent cast and some splendid race footage intertwined with staged stuff. On the debit side, the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious – “I spit in your crankcase” – as is Douglas’s attempt at an Italian accent. 

Driven (2001)

Oh, where to start..? Let’s just say that this steaming pile of ordure features Burt Reynolds and Sylvester Stallone and leave it at that. 

Bobby Deerfield (1977)

While notionally a racing film, the titular F1 star played by Al Pacino spends most of his time mumbling, romancing a terminally ill young lady and going for rides in a hot air balloon. Or something. It’s hard to recall as we may have slept through part of it. Beyond boring.

Days of Thunder (1990)

Yes, really. Every motor racing film cliché was thrown at this piece of hackery, and most of them stuck. Tom Cruise’s character Cole Trickle was supposedly inspired by real-life Indy-turned-NASCAR driver
Tim Richmond, but this is probably apocryphal. Best bit? The end credits. 

Stroker Ace (1983)

While notionally based on the wickedly funny novel Stand on It by William Neely and Bob Ottum, this Burt Reynolds vehicle borrowed little more than the main protagonist’s name. It consists mostly of Reynolds trying to wriggle out of his contract. That, and copping off with Loni Anderson. Truly, really awful. 

Greased Lightning (1977)

This alleged biopic of African-American NASCAR racer Wendell Scott was nothing of the sort. While not a bad film per se, it played fast and loose with the facts, not least the fictional upbeat ending. What’s more, Scott never earned a penny from this Richard Pryor vehicle. 

The Wild Racers (1963)

The ‘plot’ for this film by B-movie maestro Roger Corman notionally centres on a journalist’s plan to expose a Grand Prix driver as being a rum cove, only to have second thoughts after he saves his life. There are some decent action sequences, but the, cough, ‘acting’ is beyond bad. 

Baffled! (1973)

This failed pilot for a TV show-turned-movie is memorable for the brief race sequences shot during the 1971 Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting. Well, that and star Leonard Nimoy chewing the scenery as a GP ace who has psychic powers. There’s a great scene involving a vintage Bentley chasing an Austin J4 van, mind, although ‘great’ is a relative term.

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