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Racing Movies: A-C

commercial movies involving auto racing

Racing Movies A-C


Angel on Earth (1966). An airline stewardess falls in love with a race car driver. His guardian angel, taking the form of the stewardess, shepherds him through some difficult times and, after helping him win the Grand Prix de Monaco, arranges for the two to marry. Starring Romy Schneider and Henri Vidal.

Army Bound (1952). Stanley Clements, Gill Stratton Jr., Karen Sharpe, and Steve Brody star in the story of a midget driver who is drafted and tries to get leave to drive in the big race. Action from Saugus and Culver City speedways.


Back Street (1941). This melodrama starring Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullivan is notable for its scenes of the Vanderbilt Cup race. Barney Oldfield, winner of the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup, worked as a technical advisor in the film and two of his cars, a 1909 six-cylinder Stearns and a 1012 four-cylinder, sixteen-valve Prince Henry Benz, were used in the movie.

Baffled; TV movie (1972). Race driver Leonard Nimoy has visions of people in danger.

Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life (1913). Mack Sennett comedy starring Mabel Normand, with top driver Barney Oldfield as himself. Oldfield must race a train in his roadster to save Mabel, who is chained to the railroad tracks.

The Betsy; also called Harold Robbins' The Betsy (1978). In this heavy melodrama, Laurence Olivier hires race driver Tommy Lee Jones to design a new automobile model called "The Betsy" in honor of his granddaughter. A rather high class treatment of Robbins' enjoyable sleaze.

The Big Wheel (1949). Mickey Rooney races hot rods and midgets at California tracks. When he causes the death of another driver, he goes to the dirt tracks of the East to find a ride. The climax is the Indy 500. Lots of track footage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Culver City (California) Speedway.

Bikini Beach (1964). Teen surfers get into drag racing. Starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

The Blonde Comet (1941). Driver Barney Oldfield appears in this story of a woman driver, played by Virginia Dale, who competes successfully against men in European races such as the Grand Prix series and the Corriere D'Italia. In the end she lets the boyfriend win and yields to his demands that when they marry only the man in the family will work. Features race footage of "big cars" at tracks including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Southern Ascot Speedway and Oakland Speedway in California.

Bob Johnson and His Fantastic Speed Circus; TV movie (1978).

Bobby Deerfield (1977). A race car driver played by Al Pacino falls in love with an ailing socialite played by Marthe Keller. Based on the novel Heaven Has No Favorites by Erich Maria Remarque.

Born to Race (1988). Kidnappers grab an engineer to get her revolutionary engine design. Starring Joseph Bottoms, George Kennedy, Marc Singer, and Maria Heasley.

Born to Speed (1947). Johnny Sands plays the son of a midget racer who was killed at the track. He rebuilds his father's race car and goes racing against his mother's wishes. Frank Orth co-stars as the faithful mechanic, Don Castle as the rival, and Terry Austin as the love interest. The foreword to the film states: "Out of man's mania for speed grew the midget racer...A BULLET ON WHEELS. Though tiny in size the midget racer is mighty in power. Today, on scores of speedways from Maine to California, daring drivers pilot these little buzz-bombs in thrill-packed contests that draw over forty-five million fans a year....Most midget pilots work their way up from the Bush-League Circuits. Many a country barn and smalltown shed shelters a car which a speed-loving youngster is building. And many a dawn finds him secretly training, preparing himself for the chance of a lifetime."

Buck Privates Come Home (1947). Abbott and Costello farce in which they become partners with a race car driver and designer and go through all manner of shenanigans to get the car out of hock and enter it in the Gold Cup race. Costello takes the wheel and quickly loses control, exiting the racetrack with the police in pursuit. An automobile manufacturer is so impressed with the speed of the car that he orders a number of them.

Burn 'Em Up Barnes (1921). A wealthy young man who likes to drive fast (Johnny Hines) is robbed and dumped into a box car, where he falls in with a band of hobos. The climax is an auto race in which he foils the thieves, who have robbed a bank and are using the race to escape.

Burn 'Em Up Barnes (1934). This twelve- part serial was spliced into a feature film. A young driver (Jack Mulhall) retires after a friend is killed during a race, and enters a business partnership with a friend (Marjorie Temple). He signs on as a test driver to make enough money to keep the business afloat and eventually saves it from unscrupulous profiteers. Dirt track racing.

Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1938). Dennis O'Keefe plays an up-and-coming midget driver who hooks up with Harry Carey, a car builder who wants to break speed records, no matter the danger to his drivers. Track action includes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Roosevelt Field, New York. Based on the novel Salute to the Gods by Sir Malcolm Campbell.


California Holiday; SEE Spinout

Cannonball; also called Carquake (1976). David Carradine survives all the dirty tactics of rival drivers in this story of a road race from Los Angeles to New York. The film has a full complement of car crashes.

The Cannonball Run (1981). Another Ascreaming-wheels@ film by Hal Needham follows Burt Reynolds in a wide-open cross country race.

The Cannonball Run II (1984). This sequel, a car crash extravaganza, follows Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise as they compete in a no-holds-barred coast to coast race.

Carquake. SEE Cannonball

Cars (2006). Award winning animated story of Lightning McQueen, a cocky race car. While doing community service in the small town of Radiator Springs for tearing up their road, he falls in love with Sally, a beautiful Porsche Carrera, and learns that there is more to life than fame. Paul Newman and Bonnie Hunt are the voices for Lightning and Sally. Racing voices used in this very successful film include Richard and Lynda Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Humpy Wheeler, Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti, Sarah Fisher, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The Challengers; tv movie (1969).

The Checkered Flag (1926). A mechanic designs a special carburetor and installs it in the car he intends to race against a field that also includes an entry from his prospective father-in-law. Unbeknownst to anyone, including the audience, his fiancee drives the car for him and wins.

The Checkered Flag (1963). Dark story of the alcoholic, unfaithful wife of a wealthy playboy driver who seduces a young driver to kill her husband. It all ends badly. Some scenes were shot at  Sebring, Florida and the Twelve Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race.

Checkered Flag or Crash (1977).

Checkpoint (1956). British film about road racing in Europe. Anthony Steel is a race driver who becomes involved in smuggling a wanted criminal (Stanley Baker) out of Italy. Includes footage from the Mille Miglia.

Corky; also called Lookin' Good (1971). Robert Blake gives an excellent performance in an otherwise forgettable film about a mechanic who sacrifices everything to pursue a career in stock car racing.

The Crowd Roars (1932). James Cagney is a star race car driver pointing toward the Indy 500. Romantic entanglements and track competition with his younger brother (Eric Linden), who is a member of his crew, complicate things. Also starring Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak. The racing action was filmed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 1931 Indy 500. A number of drivers made cameo appearances, including Billy Arnold, Fred Frame, Ralph Hepburn, Wilbur Shaw, Shorty Cantlon, Mel Keneally, Stubby Stubblefield, Harry Hartz, Fred Guisso, Spider Matlock, Phil Pardee, Lou Schneider, Bryan Saulpaugh, and Frank Brisko.

Cry Baby (1990). Off-beat musical comedy set in 1954 tells the story of juvenile delinquent Crybaby Walker (Johnny Depp), whose ability to shed a single tear drives the girls wild, and the convention-bound girl (Amy Locane), who is drawn to him. Inevitably there is the chicken run between the squares and the jd's. Quirky cast includes Polly Bergen, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Troy Donahue, Joey Heatherton, David Nelson, and William Dafoe.

Subject Guide

Suzanne Wise's picture
Suzanne Wise
Belk Library and Information Commons
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608-2026
tel: 828-262-2798

Curator of the Stock Car Racing Collection; Bibliographer for the departments of Communication, Computer Science, and Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment