Days of Thunder (1990) directed by Tony Scott is a film about an open–wheel race car driver trying to make it in the National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR). Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) is picked up (hired) by race team owner Tim Daland (Randy Quaid). Daland convinces Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall), a retired crew chief, to come out of retirement and be crew chief to his race team. Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker) is Trickle’s racing nemesis; he is a hot headed driver who will do whatever it takes to win the race. Trickle meets Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), Trickle’s love interest, after his crash involving Burns at Daytona Speedway.
The races at Daytona speedway, along with all of the other races, were filmed on location at real NASCAR tracks. The filming at each of these tracks captured what it is like at a NASCAR race. The fans in the stands were real NASCAR fans, not just actors. This allowed the movie to have a “more real” feel to me. The writer Robert Towne, director Tony Scott and co-writer Cruise spent a great deal of time with NASCAR drivers, such as Richard Petty, to get a better understanding of stock cars and NASCAR. In doing so, this made the film a more accurate take on NASCAR. Petty told Towne and Cruise about his crash. “He said it was almost in slow motion.” Cruise said Petty had told him. Petty tells Cruise “All he can remember was that he was looking at the ground, and it was lifting up.” Petty also told them that he was temporarily blinded from the crash (Rolling Stone 54).
After talking with Petty, “Towne develops a story about a guy who had an accident where nothing physical happened to him, but he confronted subsequent problems that are a result of him having more talent than experience” (Rolling Stone 54). Towne based Cruise, Duvall and Quaid’s characters loosely on real life NASCAR people. The accident or “the big one” as NASCAR fans call it at Daytona Speedway, involving Burns (Rooker) and Trickle (Cruise), Trickle to start...
Cited: Days Of Thunder. By Robert Towne. Dir. Tony Scott. Perf. Tom Cruise Robert Duvall Randy
Quaid Nicole Kidman. 1990.
Kroll, Jack. "Fans, Start Your Engines." Newsweekly. 2. 9 July 1990. 65.
Novak, Ralph. "Days of Thunder." People Weekly. Vol. 34. 2. 16 July 1990. 11.
Ressner, Jeffrey. "On Thunder Road With Tom Curise." Rolling Stone. 12-26 July 1990. 50+.
Schickel, Richard. "Crash Course." Time. Vol. 116. 3. 16 July 1990.
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