What’s Your Favorite Cheesy Racing Movie?

The first time I saw Days of Thunder, I thought my husband was playing a joke on me. No. No, that’s just the movie.
Gif: TM & Paramount

There’s just something about racing movies from the 1980s through the early 2000s that brought out the worst in film studios. I don’t know what encouraged someone to look at a stock car and say, “this, but so cheesy you can’t even comprehend it,” but they did, and I love it. And now I want to know your favorites.


I’m asking because someone introduced me to Steel Chariots the other day, a made-for-TV movie about NASCAR that included cameos from the series’s actual drivers. Now, I know you can’t expect a lot from made-for-TV film, but I sat down to watch this the other day, and it was kind of like watching a soap opera but made for dudes. Less than 20 minutes in, Randy Travis advises the lead character to atone for his sins and open up his heart to God, because that’s how you win races. And somehow, that’s not even the best part.

It’s terrible. I loved every second of it. I need more.

A few months ago, I went through the same thing with the movie Kart Racer, which my husband made me buy on DVD. Watts Davies, a 14-year-old kart racer, has a dream to compete in the IKF Regional Championships—a dream that his dad finally comes around to through the course of the movie. It includes everything you could need in an early-2000s movie: a dead mom as motivation, a really awkward and kind of forced teen romance, adults who are king of creepily invested in teens, a predictable plot, and, lest we forget, Randy Quaid.


It’s a masterpiece in the sense that it perfectly encapsulates its era. The first time I saw it, I was working steadily through a bottle of wine, and I maintain that this is the way it’s meant to be. I desperately want to review it, but I just don’t want to lose the magic of that first viewing. It’s the kind of movie you need to watch in a group of folks who are all similar levels of intoxicated to really, fully enjoy.

As the winter months approach and I find myself further trapped in the icy Canadian climes, I’m going to need something to watch. And because my general taste in movies is already terrible enough that I have to badger my husband for a year before he agrees to watch one of my terrible movies, I’m hoping the racing aspect will make it easier for him to reluctantly agree.

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So, give me what you’ve got. All the terrible racing movies you can think of!

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