5 Best Car Racing Movies Like Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo sped into theaters and turned out to be a really good film. Neill Blomkamp directs the hell out of the picture, resulting in a fun crowd-pleaser that will get your adrenaline pumping, assuming you embrace the film’s fast-and-loose approach to facts. Of course, Gran Turismo is just the latest race car drama to hit the big screen. So, assuming you liked it as much as I did, here are the five best car racing movies like Gran Turismo that’ll make you wanna hop in the car and drive to Target real fast.

Days of Thunder (1990)

Unfairly criticized as a Top Gun knockoff, this race car drama from Tom Cruise and director Tony Scott hits plenty of familiar beats but scores where it counts — on the race track. The racing sequences are epic in scope, directed with Scott’s atypical visual flair. At the same time, a top-notch supporting cast consisting of Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, and Michael Rooker provide solid work on the sidelines.

Still, this is Cruise’s show, and the man kicks Days of Thunder into an all-new gear that raises it above the usual assortment of blockbuster junk. No, its by-the-numbers plot doesn’t exactly captivate, but as action pictures go, there’s no denying Days of Thunder offers enough genuine thrills to kick-start your engine on a Saturday afternoon, which is why it kicks off our list of the best car racing movies like Gran Turismo. Also, Hans Zimmer’s score kicks ass.

Rush (2013)

Ron Howard’s Rush deserves a second chance. The true-life pic, about two feuding Formula One drivers, grossed just $98 million at the global box office but remains a sensational character drama packed with terrific performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl and solid racing sequences.

Unlike Gran Turismo, this one’s most definitely not for the kids. Howard doesn’t skimp on the adult themes, giving audiences a mature examination of two complex individuals whose lust for adrenaline-charged action fueled an incredible, sometimes bitter rivalry. It’s a fascinating peak behind the scenes of Formula One and a film that deserves far more attention than it initially received. Also, Hans Zimmer’s score kicks ass.

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Christian Bale and Matt Damon are outstanding in James Mangold’s powerful racing drama centered around the race between Ford and Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Bale plays Ken Miles, a brash, unpredictable racer who teams up with Damon’s Carroll Shelby to take on the Almighty Ferrari. The two men initially fail to see eye-to-eye but eventually set aside their differences to fulfill an astonishing goal.

Mangold weaves an emotional tale about fathers and sons, replete with an ending that’ll leave all but the hard-hearted weeping into their popcorn. As sports dramas go, they don’t get much better than this Academy Award-nominated spectacle.

Le Mans (1971)

Considering Blomkamp used the gritty 1971 racing drama Le Mans to inspire Gran Turismo, it only makes sense to list it here. Starring Steve McQueen, the pic follows race car driver Michael Delaney during his exploits at the titular Le Mans, during which a fellow driver (and rival) was killed.

Like Gran Turismo, the story comes second to the action and director Lee H. Katzin doesn’t disappoint, filming the race sequences with a documentary-like flair that adds to the realism. Sure, the whole falling in love with a widow plot is dumb, but McQueen is cool as ever, and the cars are pretty. ‘Nuff said.

Driven (2001)

Driven is a lot of fun. However, like most Renny Harlin productions, something is missing here that keeps Driven from ascending to top-tier heights. No matter, I say it’s still worth a watch if only to see Sly Stallone (who also wrote) behind the wheels of a race car. The racing sequences are pretty awesome in that early 2000s sort of way, and the predictable storyline about a cocky, up-and-coming driver learning the ropes from a former champ hits all the right notes. Don’t expect greatness, but Driven works well enough to satisfy action junkies, which is why it rounds out our list of the best car racing movies like Gran Turismo.