In the aftermath of Sunday’s NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski seem to be in a two-man race for the Sprint Cup.  But while analysts study the race and make their predictions for the rest of the Sprint series – including whether Danica Patrick will recover her cool – here’s a look off the real race track and into the cinema.  What are the five best racing movies you might not have seen?  If rubber make the smell of love, read on.

The Fast and the Furious

Very few people will agree with me that this is a “great” movie, and it’s true that we’re all over Vin Diesel.  But The Fast and the Furious was more than just an adrenaline flick.  It captured the drifting culture in a unique and appropriate way that is artistically correct, even if it was accidental.  In 2001, the drift culture that was taking root – especially in the Inland Empire of Southern California – was cartoony – loopy and drugged and hazy and undefined.  By being formulaic and cartoony itself, the movie succeeded in bringing that culture to life.


This movie was widely panned, and deservedly so.  It was flawed, and the pieces failed together in a way that made the audience wonder whether there were fifteen quiet minutes of story lying somewhere on the cutting room floor that would have made it make sense.  But that aside there are moments of brilliance inside it, most notably from Angus Macfadyen and Eddie Griffin.  And it features all the gorgeous cars  that people like us, who spend more time shopping for cheap car insurance than breaking speed limits, love to look at.

The Love Bug

This is hardly an underrated movie, but because it now stands behind a Lindsay Lohan-led disaster in a movie franchise line, it’s worth mentioning so that it doesn’t fall into obscurity.  The original Herbie movie created perhaps the most lovable and memorable car character ever to grace the silver screen, and it’s as good today as it was when it was made in 1968.


This isn’t exactly a racing movie in its purest sense.  It’s a Jackie Chan movie that happens to have racing in the background.  But it’s a Jackie Chan movie.  Any list of great underrated movies of any topic has to include at least one Jackie Chan movie.  And if you’re going to go on a car movie marathon, you ought to throw in some good fight scenes.  (Insurance agents should take note:  a Jackie Chan racing movie is going to crash its share of cars, so prepare yourselves.)


Although “Senna” is a documentary, it is so beautifully shot and so rivetingly told that it feels more like a biopic.  The film is a tragedy, since Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian Formula One driver who was the subject of the film, died in a crash.  But filmmaker Asif Kapadia managed to collect a tremendous amount of footage, enabling him to craft a story that is both an intimate portrait and a gripping action film.


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