4 True Racing Stories We’d Like To See on Film

Published 10 months ago by This is a list post.

True Racing Rivalry Movies We Want Ask any motorsport fan and they'll tell you: you can find every bit of drama, tension, conflict and action of Hollywood's greatest films on any given day at a professional racetrack. That fact seems to have occurred to director Ron Howard as well, turning the real-life rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda into the basis for his high-octane drama Rush. The film marks one of the few occasions when racing fans have a film to look forward to, which is a problem that more writers and directors need to rectify. The realm of racing is as varied as the personalities that seem drawn to it, and it doesn't take long to find a few real-life stories which would make for strong films. There are too many to name, but here are 4 True Racing Stories We'd Like To See On Film.

Paris-Dakar Rally

Dakar Rally Movie If the average person found themselves lost in the Sahara desert, they'd probably decide (once rescued) that it's not the kind of place you make a habit of visiting. But when that happened to Thierry Sabine, he determined that the sandy wasteland was the perfect location for a rally race. If that seems like a crazy idea, the race Sabine ended up launching was every bit as absurd. Stretching from France across the Mediterranean to Senegal, the Paris-Dakar Rally, the off-road endurance race requires drivers travel upwards of 800 km every day through some of the most rugged and deadly conditions imaginable. The concept seems like a work of fiction, but with the race taking the lives of 50 racers and bystanders since it was first run in 1979, the race should be brought to more people's attention. Whether they support it or fight to stop it is up to them.

Andretti vs. Foyt

Mario Andretti AJ Foyt Movie It's a question few modern racing fans ask: how did we get from the open-cockpit, front-engine roadsters of the 1950s to the mid-engine, 'grand prix' style that now defines open-wheel racing? It may seem like a logical evolution, but the shift was so divisive in the American racing community, it forever changed American motorsport, and helped clear the way for NASCAR's dominance today. And situated at the very front of it was A.J. Foyt, a swaggering Texan with grease under his fingernails, and Mario Andretti, an Italian immigrant who grew up idolizing Formula One. The two drivers quickly took their rivalry to the top of Indy, combining to win 11 of the last 13 races in the 1967 USAC Championship. Struggling between old and new, paved and dirt tracks, and polarizing personalities, Foyt and Andretti's place in racing history deserves more attention. Photo Credit: ESPN

Earnhardt vs. Gordon

Dale Earnhardt Jeff Gordon Movie

NASCAR tracks may not be as complex as some of their European brethren, but with 75 million fans and broadcasting to 150 countries, it's baffling that more films based on the sport aren't made. And if one rivalry is fit for film, it's the clash between Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Jeff Gordon. Every fan knows of Earnhardt's legacy; the man who bore the nickname 'Intimidator' without a hint of irony, prowling the track in his all-black Goodwrench Chevy. When the veteran came face to face with the up-and-coming Jeff Gordon - hailing from California and sporting a rainbow paint scheme - the gloves came off. With the future of the sport in question, Earnhardt's 'good old boy' attitude was a complete opposite of Gordon's camera-friendly demeanor. And the war of philosophies, fans, words and racing that followed is tailor-made for the screen. Photo Credit: NASCAR Images

Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna Racing Movie If you know the name Ayrton Senna, then we don't have to explain why a film based on his life is a no-brainer. If you don't know of the Brazilian F1 driver - considered by most racing legends to be the greatest ever to sit behind a steering wheel - you'll likely think he's simply a work of fiction. Senna was a walking (and driving) contradiction - one minute donating millions to help those in his home country, or risking his safety for his fellow drivers, the next throwing caution to the wind to win at any cost. It's a simple fact: any biopic based on the life of Ayrton Senna would be great simply by association (watch the documentary bearing his name if you doubt us). If you're looking for rivalries, Senna's career was filled with them; but direct competitor and eventual teammate Alain Prost would be a top contender. Even still, a film focused solely on Senna would be one audiences would have trouble believing was based on fact, with a larger-than-life star whose impact is still felt today.

Conclusion

Rush Movie Racing Stories Rivalries Only time will tell if Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl manage to bring enough drama to Rush to kick off a new interest in motorsport movies. Hopefully we'll see one of these stories done justice, but in all honesty, more racing films is enough for us. Which tales from the track do you think are ripe for adaptation? Be sure to leave your own picks in the comments. _________ Rush is in theaters now. Be sure to read our review. Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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  1. When you say a movie based on Senna’s life, you mean more than just the existing documentary? Because I thought that was some damn fine documentary making and I’m not sure how a theatrical release using actors (like Rush has) could properly tell his story. Also, where would it end? His untimely death on the track or would that be left out of the film and only mentioned before the end credits?

    That’s probably the reason that a Senna project would work more than the others listed because NASCAR only seems to be a big deal in the US so it’d be a hard sell outside of America (just like the biggest and most popular sport in the world being football/soccer but a movie based on a player or team would be a tough sell to US audiences).

    • ‘Senna’ is an absolutely inspired documentary, and everyone intrigued by this list should make a point of watching it (or at least Top Gear’s tribute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kUNTtvMOtQ).

      But if James Hunt and Niki Lauda are going to be immortalized on screen by a pair of talented young actors, there’s no question that Ayrton Senna’s life, not just his death, should be brought to more people’s attention.

      I’m not sure how I’d like to see his death handled dramatically. In hindsight, the whole run of days and events leading up to it are so sensitive in my mind, the film would need to have proven itself as tasteful long before it got to that point.

  2. What about motorcycle racing? There’s been some amazing rivalries, legends and stories throughout the years. Rainey vs Schwantz. Doohan. Agostini. Valentino Rossi vs Gibernau, Biaggi & Stoner in last 10 years. Highly recommend people check out Faster, Fastest (by Mark Neal, about the MotoGP series) and TT: Closer to the Edge (about the Isle of Man TT). They’ll give you a great insight into the world of motorsport on 2 wheels.

  3. Don Prudhome(The Snake)and Tom McEwen(The Mongoose)would make a great movie…

  4. Alex Zanardi. The man was fired from F1 and came to CART and dominated his rookie season, passing where no one else would dare. He and teammate Jimmy Vassar where the face of Target and the stars of the sport…the blond haired Californian and the accented little Italian dynamo.

    Alex left CART to race again in F1 and could not find the same fire. He came back to CART on a less talented and budgeted team and was on verge of winning his first race in several years when he made a mistake by being to eager and was side swiped at full speed by Alex Tagliani. The impact tore both of his legs off above the knee and he darn near bled out on that track.

    Most people would give up or blame God fir their fate but Alex was ever the optimist. One year later, after intensive , he drove the last few laps at the same track in a modified indycar to cerimoniously “finish” his last race. He still drives and races and is still a fixture at Indycar races, cheering on Vassar’s own team and his friends still in the sport. A true inspiration.

  5. People don’t give NASCAR drivers enough credit. I’m not talking about the sport itself, I honestly wouldn’t want to sit through an entire race either. I’m talking merely about the skill in the drivers. Just about every driver that has done both Formula 1 and NASCAR would agree that driving in NASCAR is much harder. The cars never “settle down” like they do in F1. They race so close, any mistake could cause a wreck. When you’re drafting, you get better gas mileage but you lose traction because you lose the downforce you normally would get, and in general you just have a whole lot of things to pay attention to. Passing other drivers and being passed is actually a very dangerous thing and it happens 100x more often in NASCAR than in F1. I think a realistically depicted movie showing how unstable the cars are in NASCAR compared to the glued to the ground turning on rails racing of F1 would be a great contrast…

    I personally prefer racing with cars closer to street cars, like SCCA and things like that. :-)

    • I disagree that NASCAR is tougher…show me one NASCAR driver that has made the leap to F1 or CART and has been super successful. I agree that it is different in that F1 is much more technical while NASCAR is more about being aware of your surroundings. That’s why Indycar in my opinion is the best since they must master road, street and oval tracks.About the only driver I can think of that excelled in both is Tony Stewart when he was in the IRL and then NASCAR.

      • @Lord

        Hey, if you think you know more about racing that the people who have done both, maybe you do. But Juan Pablo Montoya who was in F1 and is now in NASCAR and Danica Patrick who was in IndyCar and now in NASCAR, were both asked which is harder and they both quickly answered NASCAR without hesitation. But hey, I’m sure you’re an expert and maybe they should ask you for advice about it all one day…

  6. Senna film

    YES YES YES

  7. “Every fan knows of Earnhardt’s legacy; the man who bore the nickname ‘Intimidator’ without a hint of irony, prowling the track in his all-black Goodwrench Chevy.”

    Honestly, I don’t think that such a description can completely divorce itself from irony. Unless one is a REALLY hardcore fan, I guess.

    Paris-Dakar could make a terrific, epic adventure film. And more F1 films, please, Senna, whoever.

    • @J83

      Well, if a F1 film is too realistic, the whole movie will be about who gets the best times… It’ll be like watching a bunch of qualifying laps but there happens to be other drivers on the track at the same time… So you know a movie about it will take liberties and make it seem like they are actually passing each other all of the time, lol.

  8. Senna for the win. That documentary was incredible.

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