Top Classic Racing Films

Over the years there have been some fantastic racing films, featuring some of the best cars and motorbikes tearing up the track (or even street) seeking new fame and fortune. Today we have put together some of the best classic racing films, so if you have just finished watching the latest Fast and Furious film and are looking for something new to fill the gap, or want to revisit some timeless classics, we have all you need. 

1. Cannonball Run (1981)

This cross-country car race is an absolute gem, and features all of the craziness and wild antics that you would expect of the 80’s. The film features an all-star cast including Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Jackie Chan and Dom Deluise. The concept of the film is simple; a number of race teams have assembled in Connecticut with the goal of reaching the finish line first. It sounds simple, but as the cars evade police, adopt superhero identities and get embroiled in kidnapping, it becomes a bit more complicated and a lot more fun.

2. Vanishing Point (1971)

Road movies have long been a staple of cinematic history. The narrative of an individual setting out on a long journey and coming back a different person is something which fundamentally appeals to almost everyone, and is something that most drivers will appreciate. Vanishing point is a fantastic example of this.

A car delivery driver named Kowalski, played by Barry Newman, accepts a bet to drive 1,200 miles from Colorado to San Francisco in just under 24 hours. Unlike ‘Cannonball Run’ the ensuing road race between Kowalski and the pursuing police, as he speeds through towns in his 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, is both enthralling and thought-provoking. The film is touted as being representative of a post-Woodstock mood in the US, but the antidisestablishment themes and feeling of disempowerment is something which many will relate to in some way.

3. Le Mans (1971)

1971 was a great year for racing movies! This one depicted 24 Hours of the Le Mans auto race. The film is a fictional reconstruction, but uses actual footage from the 1970 race and stars Steve McQueen. The film didn't do fantastically at the box office at the time, but has since become a fan favourite of many drivers around the world due to its realistic portrayal of professional racing at the time. For fans of high adrenaline racing, this is a must watch.

4. On Any Given Summer (1971)

Completing our triathlon of excellent films released in 1971 is ‘On Any Given Sunday’. This American documentary shows the various personalities and skills required of a number of different motorcycle racers. Instead of just focusing on one aspect of motorcycle racing, director Bruce Brown chose to explore desert racers, motocross racers and Grand National racers. The documentary was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary and is one of the best films around for not only exploring the exhilarating world of competitive motorbike racing, but the people involved in it.

5. Grand Prix (1966)

‘Grand Prix’ was one of the top grossing films of its release year, won three Academy Awards and featured cameos from Formula One champions including Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham. It is easy then to understand why ‘Grand Prix’ is one of the top racing films for car lovers today. There is often competition between this film and ‘Le Mans’ between car enthusiasts, and where the other impresses with its accuracy and dedication to accurate portrayal of the race, ‘Grand Prix’ dazzles with camera effects and spectacle which were groundbreaking at the time. The story itself ties everything together as it focuses on a number of characters taking part in a Formula One season.

These are just a few of our favourite classic racing films. There are some amazing ones out there, so make sure to let us know any we missed. Also be sure to tell us which racing films are your favourite when you want to sit on the sofa and feel the need for speed!


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