Spearheaded by the brawny Vin Diesel, the full-throttle Fast & Furious gang are famous for winning the odd race or two. To get us ready for the next instalment of the franchise with this April's The Fate of the Furious, here is a list of the most utterly insane movie car races, ones that had us hanging onto the edge of our seats.
What makes the final race of Pixar's family classic so special is that our four-wheeled hero Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) does not actually win like we'd expect. Proving that he is a changed car and that he thinks of others instead of himself, McQueen helps fellow car Hicks win after he breaks down metres away from the finish line.
McQueen, in the lead, forfeits the win by turning back to push Hicks over the finish line to ensure he completes the race. Enemy Weathers wins the race, but McQueen wins the real race (aww). This race demonstrates how McQueen is a good sportsman – something that's shared by the Fast & Furious team (let's just overlook their criminal activities, shall we?)
Rush tells the real life story of rival F1 racers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). In this race, Lauda decides to quit the race due to the racing conditions and his previous experience that left him with lifelong injuries, but Hunt continues and needs to get one of the top spots to win. With a lifelike, shaky-cam filming style, we feel like we are in the Formula One racing car with Hunt, making it ultra tense when he overtakes, passes corners and eventually crosses the finish line.
Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
This race doesn’t quite count as a car race, as the two drivers Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) and Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) finish the last section of their battle on foot – but it’s still a race!
Ferrell plays a man who, since being a child, has dreamt of being a NASCAR driver. In the final race he crashes into Jean Girard, which leads to the two setting towards the finish line by foot. The track ‘We Belong’ in the background just makes the scene.
Speed Racer (2008)
If you think Speed Racer looks like a level of Rainbow Road on Mario Kart on series drigs, then you’re not far off. The film is based on the Japanese anime and manga series and Emile Hirsch plays the titular Speed Racer, a boy who aims to become a car racer like his late brother.
Directed by Matrix visionaries the Wachowskis, of course the film is CGI-heavy and in terms of its visuals is incredibly fun and over the top, but still generates suspense during its imaginative racing sequences. The presence of CGI means there are some racetrack surprises we haven't seen in other movies on this list. and the film makes you wish these cars and tracks really existed.
Days of Thunder (1990)
Of course there needs to be a classic on this list and who better than the action hero of the last few decades: Tom Cruise. Playing Cole Trickle, Cruise hopes to win the Indianapolis 500 and, after being recruited by NASCAR, he trains to be the best racer. In this race, Cole promises that ‘this guy is going down’ and he sure wasn’t lying, as Cole tricks his opponent, Russ Wheeler (played by Cary Elwes) to thinking he’ll overtake up the side but speeds past on the lower level of the track. As the saying goes: like a boss.
Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.