That quartet of words conjures up images of burning rubber, revving engines and lightening fast pit stops.
This weekend the new Ron Howard movie Rush tries to capture the excitement of Formula 1 racing. Daniel Brühl stars as Niki Lauda, the real life Austrian driver and three-time F1 World Champion who faced off against British legend James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) at the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship at Fuji in Japan.
The story of their rivalry promises not only a great sport story, but also pedal to the metal action and fiery crashes. Like racing kingpin Dale Ernhardt Sr. once said, “You win some, you lose some, you wreck some.”
Just ask the producers of Days of Thunder, who destroyed 35 cars during the shooting of the Tom Cruise racing flick.
Loosely based on the relationship between crew chief Harry Hyde and driver Tim Richmond—played by Robert Duvall and real life racing enthusiast Cruise—and set in the world of Nascar, Days of Thunder is essentially Top Gun on four wheels, but it does feature some thrilling scenes and deafening engine noise.
As for the autos, most were Chevrolets fitted with fake stock cars fiberglass bodies. Not exactly built for the kind of speed required for the film, they regularly broke down and at one point half the fleet was in the shop.
Whatever James Garner’s Grand Prix lacks in story—there basically isn’t one—it makes up for with exhilarating racing footage. To fulfill director John Frankenheimer’s wish for realistic race scenes the cars actually raced at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour. In the past racing sequences had been shot at slower speeds and then sped up in post-production, but Frankenheimer felt that technique would look fake to an audience who was now used to watching racing on television.
Equally exciting for race fans is Le Mans. The advertising tagline for this 1971 film raves, “Steve McQueen takes you for a drive in the country. The country is France. The drive is at 200 MPH!”
“When you’re racing, it… it’s life,” says Michael Delaney (McQueen). “Anything that happens before or after… is just waiting.”