20 Best Racing Movies You Can’t Miss

With its hyped-up sequences, fast cars, and brilliant casts, it’s no secret why racing films have gotten popular. From the franchise such as Fast and Furious to a biopic of actual lice racers, you can pick out the next film for your next marathon with this list of twenty best racing movies.

1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

English 1h 46m IMDb
The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen

Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez

Of course, we have the arguably most recognizable franchise in cinema history to start this list. Justin Lin’s Fast and Furious has been a massive hit since its release in 2001. It spawned eight sequels that provide any racing fans movie marathon material for a whole day.

The Fast and The Furious brandish a wave of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker chemistry with stylish cars. Although some of the plot beats can border on ridiculous, the cast’s brilliance and gut-punching sequence are enough to keep you wanting more.

2. Rush (2013)

English 2h 3m IMDb
Rush (2013)

Director: Ron Howard

Stars: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde

This biopic is an excellent must-watch if you are more interested in the historical rather than fictional side of racing movies.

Rush follows the story of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) as their rivalry and friendship grow. Filled with excellent sequences from the iconic 1976 racing season, the film is an entertaining look at the real-life racing scene.

With its brilliant cast and excellent cinematography, Rush won one BAFTA award and an array of accolades. The film is a fantastic racing film that transcends the genre and delves into the mainstream appeal.

3. Baby Driver (2017)

English 1h 53m IMDb
Baby Driver (2017)

Director: Edgar Wright

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver must be one of the most influential films of the late 2010s. Slinging out the door with an excellent storyline, immersive soundtrack, and charismatic cast, it’s no surprise that the film is a critical and commercial success. True to its tagline, you can feel the immersive action in the racetrack and soundtracks.

The film follows Baby, a gateway driver for a crime lord. As he plans to leave the life of crime and chaos, he is coerced to do one last job. His last mission leads to fantastic sequences of car chases, action, and an overarching storyline.

4. Cars (2006)

English 1h 57m IMDb
Cars (2006)

Director: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft

Stars: Owen Wilson(voice), Bonnie Hunt(voice), Paul Newman(voice)

With the racing flicks emerging with the action genre, it’s harder to find racing movies for the family. Fortunately, Disney’s Pixar is here to deliver a fun family film for anyone young or young at heart. Cars is an excellent racing film that anyone can watch.

The movie follows the journey of Lightning McQueen, a hotshot racing car, on his way to the famous Piston Camp. Due to his faults, he destroys the small town of Radiator Springs. Away from his big-city attitude, McQueen learns the value of friendship and family along the way.

5. Need for Speed (2014)

English 2h 12m IMDb
Need for Speed (2014)

Director: Scott Waugh

Stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots

Straight from prison, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) sets out to get one thing: revenge. Wrongly accused of murder, Marshall spent two years in jail. Through joining an underground racing competition also known as The DeLeon.

Need for Speen is one of the most influential racing films from the early 2010s. The movie’s $66 million budget grossed $203 million, making it a blockbuster hit. With its fast and fancy cars, you are in for an excellent time filled with redemption, revenge, and motor oil.

6. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

English 2h 32m IMDb
Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Director: James Mangold

Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal

Ford v Ferrari is a 2019 racing biopic by James Mangold, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon. The film details the journey of Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles as they fight against the law of physics to build a race car for Ford. All the efforts aim to beat Ferrari in the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans competition.

If you are a fan of real-life racing, this biopic is an excellent way to learn the history behind the sport. It’s a critical and commercial hit, winning two Oscars and many accolades.

7. Senna (2010)

English 1h 46m IMDb
Senna (2010)

Director: Asif Kapadia

Stars: Ayrton Senna(archive footage), Reginaldo Leme(voice), John Bisignano(voice)

If you love the historical side of racing as a sport, then this film documentary by Asif Kapadia is an excellent must-watch. Senna details the monumental career of Ayrton Senna from many archive footages, interviews, and exclusive pictures. As a young race car driver, Senna had won the prolific F1 race three times.

If you are interested in knowing more about the life of a champion, this documentary is an excellent place to start. With its honest and emotional depiction of Senna’s life, the film received critical success in the racing sphere. It won two BAFTA awards and countless praise from racing fans.

8. Talladega Nights (2006)

English 1h 48m IMDb
Talladega Nights (2006)

Director: Adam McKay

Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen

Of course, sports flicks are not all about gritty and seriousness; once in a while, a fun comedy film will carve its way into the genre. Talladega Nights did just that. Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baron Cohen, you know you are in for a hilarious ride.

Talladega nights follows the story of Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR driver with a win-at-all-cost mentality. Bobby is always number one. However, things change when a certain Jean Girard attempts to challenge him. The changes cause a slew of funny hijinks and a surprisingly emotional story.

9. Breaking Away (1979)

English 1h 41m IMDb
Breaking Away (1979)

Director: Peter Yates

Stars: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern

With an Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globes Award in its belt, you know you are in for an excellent watching experience with Breaking Away. Rather than fast cars, the film deals with bicycle racing. However, the adrenaline and entertainment are still the same as your usual racing flick.

The film follows four young men and their journey through self-discovery. With the stark dichotomy in their small town of Bloomington, Indiana, the four men must come to their element through the power of bicycle racing.

10. Death Race 2000 (1975)

English 1h 20m IMDb
Death Race 2000 (1975)

Director: Paul Bartel

Stars: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth

Racing movies, more often than not, deal with a serious storyline and hardened main characters. Death Race 2000 cannot be farther from the archetype. The film mixes black comedy, action, and a hint of dystopia.

True to its name, Death Race 2000 showcases a gory and outright killing race game. As America fell into chaos in the 2000s, a government-mandated death race was done yearly to keep the masses at bay. With six promising racers competing, who will win the death race?

11. Grand Prix (1966)

English 2h 56m IMDb
Grand Prix (1966)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand

Grand Prix is one of the old-time classics when it comes to racing flicks. The Oscar-winning film delves into the drama and adrenaline of racing.

The film follows Pete Aron (portrayed by James Garner), a racing driver who suffered an accident in 1966 Formula 1. As Aron gets fired by his sponsors, he decides to redeem himself by joining the Japanese circuit. With a complicated budding romance and his turbulent racing career, Aron must weigh which is more important for him.

12. The 24-Hour War (2016)

English 2h 56m IMDb
The 24-Hour War (2016)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand

The 24-Hour War is another documentary dealing with the monumental battle between two racing mechanic legends, Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. With the Le Man race on the line, the two must figure out to best the other.

With many archive footages and interviews, The 24-Hour War showcases their journey in an entertaining and moving movie documentary. If you are interested in real-life racing, this film is an excellent way to learn more about the sport’s history.

13. Turbo (2013)

English 1h 36m IMDb
Turbo (2013)

Director: David Soren

Stars: Ryan Reynolds(voice), Paul Giamatti(voice), Maya Rudolph(voice)

While Pixar has Lightning McQueen, DreamWorks has Turbo as its ambassador in the racing genre. In an attempt at irony, the film centers around a race called Indianapolis 500. What animals are competing in the race? Snails.

The titular character Turbo is just your average snail, minding his life, living the day usually. However, his life will be turned in of itself when a freak accident infuses him with the power of super speed. With a new upgrade at hand, Turbo and his ragtag underdog team decided to join Indianapolis 500, a prestigious racing competition.

14. Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)

English 1h 41m IMDb
Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)

Director: Angela Robinson

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Cheryl Hines

Herbie Fully Loaded is a perfect addition to your must-watch list if you want some excellent old early 2000s charm with your racing movies. Starring Lindsey Lohan, the film is filled with fun and nostalgic elements that will take you to simpler times. The whole family can also watch Herbie.

Herbie Fully Loaded centers around Maggie Peyton (Lindsey Lohan), a third-generation to a family of NASCAR drivers. Due to her father’s disapproval, Maggie has a hard time following her dreams to be a race car driver. However, everything will change once she meets a Volkswagen Bug with a mind of its own.

15.  Winning (2015)

English 1h 23m IMDb
Winning (2015) 

Director: Adam Carolla, Nate Adams(additional director)

Stars: Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Dick Barbour

Racing can come across as just another sport or movie genre for some. However, for Paul Newman, racing is his life. In this feature-length documentary, Newman’s 35-year career is detailed through archival process and interviews.

In Adam Carolla and Nate Adams’ documentary, you will feel the passion and hype of living life as a racing champion. With someone as great as Paul Newman, the retelling of his life gives a bout of inspiration to anyone who has the time to watch. It’s a very educational film, perfect for those interested in the history of real-life racing.

16. The Cannonball Run (1981)

English 1h 35m IMDb
The Cannonball Run (1981)

Director: Hal Needham

Stars: Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett

Based on the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, the 1981 film takes you on a fun and exciting ride. The Cannonball Run details the journey across a cross-country map. With the illegal competition, countless eccentric racers find their way to it.

Filled with many exciting casts, The Cannonball Run is a fun and partially crude film. It deals with action, comedy, and many heart-pumping racing sequences.

17. Le Mans (1971)

English 1h 46m IMDb
Le Mans (1971)

Director: Lee H. Katzin

Stars: Steve McQueen, Siegfried Rauch, Elga Andersen

This film is an excellent choice if you want a look into a pretty accurate race revolving around Le Mans. It delves into a documentary-like feel while still being fictional. As one of the oldest racing films in the genre, Le Mans stands as one of the classics.

The film revolves around American driver Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen) and German driver Erich Stahler (Siegfried Rauch). As their rivalry grew, the two must compete toe-to-toe in the Le Mans championship in France to see which is the winner.

18. Thunderbolt (1995)

Chinese 1h 50m IMDb
Thunderbolt (1995)

Director: Gordon Chan

Stars: Jackie Chan, Anita Yuen, Michael Wong

Who will pass up some good old action film starring Jacki Chan? You can mix good action and racing fights with Gordon Chan’s Thunderbolt. With an all-star cast, this Chinese film is an excellent Asian twist to your movie marathon.

Thunderbolt follows Chan Foh (Jacki Chan), an expert mechanic who helps the police when it comes to an illegal race car. Due to his ties with the police, Jackie finds himself at the end of the street racer Warner Krugman (Thorsten Nickel). Foh must battle Krugerman in a street racing competition with his sisters’ lives on the line.

19. Days of Thunder (1990)

English 1h 47m IMDb
Days of Thunder (1990)

Director: Tony Scott

Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall

Days of Thunder details the journey of Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise). As a young and upcoming race car driver, Trickle is thrust upon the high-stakes Nascar racing. The anger affects his life and team as his hot temper reflects his desirable disposition on the track.

The film was a lukewarm success with critics. However, the film is a hit with the audience and stars as one of the classics in the genre since the 90s. Starring Tom Cruise, you are in for a brilliant performance and action-packed racing scenes.

20. Drive (2011)

English 1h 40m IMDb
Drive (2011) 

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Driver follows a range of genres packed with adrenaline-inducing car race sequences.

The film follows The Driver (Ryan Gosling), a mysterious man from Los Angeles working multiple jobs simultaneously. He lives a predominantly everyday life at the surface. However, things will change when he falls in love with his neighbor.

Drive received a lukewarm reception from the critics in terms of commercial success. However, the film is an excellent hit with the audience, earning high scores on various websites. It’s a perfect mix of good old racing and action films combined.


In Summary

Whether you love documentary, action, or comedy with your racing movie, there is something on this list for you. With this list of twenty best racing films to choose from, you can have adequate material for your next movie marathon. Grab some popcorn, throw in some soda, and you are set.

Racing Movies You Can't Miss

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