Racing movies you *need* to watch

There are plenty of movies out there to watch. There are even some movies out there about auto racing, but most of them are pretty horrible. Driven, Fireball 500, and The Fast & The Furious, just to name a few. For you, my beloved readers, I will catalog my three favorite racing movies, and exactly why you need to watch them!

Grand Prix (1966) – 176 minutesGrand Prix DVD cover

Quote from Netflix:

John Frankenheimer's spectacular auto-racing epic won Oscars for editing, sound and sound effects. When American Grand Prix driver Pete Aron (James Garner) is fired after crashing in Monaco and injuring his British teammate, Scott Stoddard (Brian Bedford), he starts driving for a Japanese team. While Stoddard struggles to recover, Aron becomes involved with Stoddard's estranged wife, Pat (Jessica Walter). Yves Montand and Eva Marie Saint co-star.

This is the grand-daddy of racing movies. Beautiful footage of Formula 1 cars from the 60's, including custom-built F2 cars with onboard cameras to record the amazing footage of Monza, Monaco and Spa. Just look at this lineup:

James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Toshirô Mifune, Jessica Walter, Antonio Sabato, Brian Bedford, Francoise Hardy, Adolfo Celi, Claude Dauphin, Enzo Fiermonte, Geneviève Page, Jack Watson

This movie could never be done in the modern age, movie studios would demand everything is done on a green screen. The DVD release actually comes on two discs, because this almost three-hour long movie has an intermission. This also serves to keep the bitrate quality of the video and audio very high. Though this movie is great anywhere, it really deserves to be seen on the biggest TV and best home theater system you can find. Alert the neighbors and get a noise ordinance, because you will want to put the volume to 11 when you watch the races.

Le Mans (1971) – 108 minutesLe Mans: DVD Cover

Quote from NetFlix:

Steve McQueen stars an American driver at the 24-hours of Le Mans who is locked in an intense grudge match with his German counterpart, even as he wrestles with his guilt over causing an accident that cost the life of a close friend. McQueen comes through with a penetrating, stoic performance in this classic film, and the racing sequences through the French countryside are nothing less than breathtaking.

Steve McQueen actually entered a Porche 908 into the 1970 24hrs of Le Mans race, with movie cameras custom mounted onto the front and rear of the car. Even though he had to stop twice as often as every other car in the field so they could replace the film, McQueen brought the 908 to an 8th place overall finish! Absolutely unbelieveable, and you have to wonder what glory could have awaited him, had he gone into auto racing instead of acting. There really isn't very much plot to this movie, so if you're expecting something along the lines of Grand Prix, you will be disappointed.

Dust 2 Glory (2005) – 97 minutes

Dust 2 Glory: DVD Cover

Quote from NetFlix:

This action-packed documentary chronicles the infamously treacherous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 road race across Mexico's Baja Peninsula. In order to capture the race's true power and the majestic beauty of the desert, 55 cameras and four helicopters were used during filming. Join famous racing names such as Robby Gordon, Mario Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and Mike "Mouse" McCoy for an unforgettable look at one of racing's most thrilling events.

I am not the biggest fan of motorbike racing, but Dust 2 Glory truly showcases what a grueling test of driver and machine the Baja 1000 race is. Director Dana Brown does a wonderful job weaving multiple storylines into an exciting hour and a half movie, covering everyone from the big-money unlimited trucks, to the chicken-wire & soup cans VW Beetle entries. The great camera angles and sweeping pan shots are a visual feast, and look absolutely amazing on a good HDTV.

What are you waiting for? Go rent or buy these movies now!

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