The 2006 Pixar production was a lullaby to a future generation of potential fans wrapped in a story of friendship and family and a society moving too fast to appreciate any of it. Yes, it was a vehicle to launch a million Christmas purchases, but it also had heart. Amid all the beautiful digital effects was a meticulous attention to minutia both visually and in racing. Cars had to race back onto the lead lap. Lightning McQueen rued not taking tires in the opening sequence. And the film featured voiceover cameos from Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt Jr., among many, and made seven-time Sprint Cup champ Richard Petty "Mr. The King" to a generation of children. Not, at least, for years. Last year, Kyle Petty introduced his father by his Cars moniker at his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction. Ka-chow.
2 of 10
Dust to Glory
Darkness, dirt and desolation are brilliantly melded in Dana Brown's snapshot of the Baja 1000 off-road race. Gritty commentary and grit-encrusted cinematography are set against the picturesque, yet merciless desert, accentuating that man and machine don't ever beat the Baja, just endure it with varying degrees of sacrifice.
3 of 10
The Citizen Kane of motorsports films for its erudite following. This 1966 film follows the career and personal life of an American Formula One driver Pete Aron (portrayed by James Garner) as he attempts to reconstruct both following a horrific crash -- for which he was complicit -- at the Grand Prix of Monaco that injured his teammate. Chocked with period documentary footage and rousing musical score, Grand Prix is exhilarating, particularly when considered in its context of a period when daring, skill and their consequences were not drop-and-draggable.
4 of 10
The late Dale Earnhardt Sr. is as complex and important a subject for American racing and its fans as any attempted in documentary form, but this gem, borne of diligence, research and the wealth of interview and video material it produced, was a stirring portrait of the late seven-time NASCAR champion.
5 of 10
Talladega Nights: <br> The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
What could be a wince-worthy lancing of NASCAR's lifestyle and fan base was actually a calculated maneuver by the sanctioning body to inject itself into the national mainstream using a big-production film and box office powerhouse Will Ferrell. Produced in conjunction with NASCAR in one of the successes of its Los Angeles entertainment division, Talladega Nights was silly and absurd, about 20 minutes too long, but often very funny laced with catchphrases. "Mama, I'm goin' fast!"
6 of 10
A road movie and a period piece from the early 1970s, the critically acclaimed film co-starred James Taylor and the Beach Boys' drummer street racing along old Route 66. There's "The Driver," "The Mechanic", "GTO," The Girl," and the real star -- it has almost as much dialogue -- the 1955 Chevy 150. Then again, with lines like, "What are you trying to do, blow my mind?," perhaps it's best to let the Chevy do the talking. Hippies.
7 of 10
Days of Thunder
Much of this 1990 thrill ride is just ridiculous, stereotype and catchphrase stew wadded up like a race car and sent careening through the viewer's brain. But Tom Cruise's adventure as Cole Trickle has become part of the NASCAR cinematic pantheon, sprinkled with enough pseudo-sort-of true-life suggestions of plot line to titillate the uninitiated and amuse the true fan.
8 of 10
Steve McQueen at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, his part in the death of a competitor still fresh on his mind. Porsches. Ferraris. Jaunty scarf, anyone?
9 of 10
Against an overwhelming digital color palette, the racing scenes were exciting, at least, bringing to grand life, the flat images of Speed Racer that captivated a generation in cartoon form.
10 of 10
The film follows driver Frank Capua and his on-track exploits (shot against the 1968 Indianapolis 500) and his equally racy off-track marital strife. It's a 1960s date movie with goggles, but there's enough to see to captivate a race fan and more to ponder considering this project enrapt lead actor Paul Newman with motorsports, sparking what became a passion in racing and owning cars.
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