This last week marked the 24th anniversary of the release of the monumental motorsports classic “Days of Thunder.” No detail was left untouched to ensure the greatest movie ever made about stock car racing would live on for generations to come. Hah! Just kidding — “Top Gun” in a Stock Car helped put racing on the map for those who never knew about it, but for those who have always had a passion for motorsports, it had them sitting in a slack-jawed state of awe (and not the good kind). So while you're celebrating freedom this weekend or reveling in not having to pretend to care about soccer to impress people anymore, take a look back at some of the great ... well, some moments from “Days of Thunder.”
Constant Inexplicable Smoke
Was there a trailer fire during Cole’s first test at Charlotte? The best thing to do when arriving at the track is to just ride your motorcycle into on-coming traffic on pit road — particularly at a time when there was no such thing as a pit road speed limit. Make sure to wear a duster or some other long flowing clothing that might get caught up in the chain or wheels, too. And definitely don’t wear a helmet on a bike, even though your job requires you to wear one in a car. Four wheels move the body; two move the soul, BROTHER…
National Championship Winning Driver? Never Heard of Him.
When Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) starts rattling off Cole Trickle’s resume, he basically sounds like the second coming of Steve Kinser. “Two World of Outlaw Championships, three all-star wins, seven straight feature wins, and he’s been running ASA …” Hmm. ASA. You mean that series Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki and Johnny Benson came from? But nobody’s heard of him. I guess if Ayrton Senna had showed up, they’d just start talking really loud and slow so he’d understand this trio of motorsport encyclopedias.
Buck vs. Buddy
Cole’s car chief is Buck Bretherton, son of driver Buddy Bretherton who was killed a year earlier in one of Harry Hogge’s barn-built bullets that never saw a wind tunnel or a dyno. I’m from Michigan, and even at 13 years of age I knew this was wrong. In the Buck & Buddy naming convention, Buck is the senior and Buddy would be the junior. Just ask Buddy Baker, son of Buck Baker. Besides, we all know that’s not Buck Bretherton — that’s Cal Naughton Jr. from Talladega Nights … albeit 45 pounds of girth and hair ago. Looks like Cal and Cole “Shaked and Baked" well before Ricky Bobby and any spider monkeys came along.
You Mad Bro?
After the devastating Daytona accident that sends both Rowdy and Cole to the ER via helicopter, “Big John” (i.e., Bill France) calls a meeting with the two drivers he affectionately refers to as “monkeys.” He tells them he will not tolerate their antics or beating each other up on the racetrack. Only one problem: the wreck had nothing to do with them playing bumper tag. Rowdy lost it driving through a wreck and Cole t-boned him in the smoke. So much for “Boys Have at It.”
Neurosurgeon Attempts to Exit Car at Speed
For all of her pontificating and brow-beating over something as reckless and dangerous as stock car racing, what does the esteemed neurosurgeon Claire Lewicki do? Try to bail out of a Caprice going 40 mph in a parking garage. From the looks of it, though, during the chase between Cole and the cabbie, it might have helped him had she T.J. Hooker-ed it out of the cah. Pretty sad when a professional driver is getting yarded by a Crown Vic taxic ab with 100 k on the clock. Then again, Benny Parsons was a cab driver, so we’ll cut Cole some slack here since he has a concussion and still has to put up with her shit.
Why Is His Face Always Filthy?
If they’re at the track, Cole’s face is covered in oil and grime. It’s a constant. I don’t really remember guys’ faces getting that dirty back during the open face helmet days — unless they were on a dirt track. This is like 1960s Formula One Filth. Perhaps it is related to the perpetual oil fire that is occurring in the pits or in the cockpit of the car. His teeth are always bright white, despite his fly catcher being wide open in every sequence; should’ve gone for the “wadded up water soaked rag in the teeth” look that The King always used.
Every Track is The Same, Pt. 1
Days of Thunder was revolutionary, as it foresaw the future of the sport where cookie cutter tracks all started to look the same. OK, so maybe only diehard fans and total psychos would take issue with this, but come on. Every track is used in multiple scenes when it isn’t even close to being a particular track. Phoenix? Eh, use it for Daytona. Bristol completely flat with no banking? What’s the difference? It’s dark out!
I mean come on, at least try. Does this really look like Dover? Has Dover ever had lane lanes painted on it, or acres of space on pit road? Or looked exactly like Darlington? And again with the smoke — did the pits explode? Why is there a fire in every stall?
Every Track is The Same, Pt. 2
Rockingham? Yeah. Sure. Because The Rock has a banked straight, rusty walls from the salty air and cars going by at 190 mph.
Every Track is The Same, Pt. 3
North Wilkesboro, eh? What’s that say on the wall?
With a stroke of literary irony and sheer genius, as Cole is cleansing the skid marks from his undies, there just happens to be some mud getting slung across the way at the local dirt track. Isn’t that were most Laundromats are located, right next to racetracks? There’s a couple of cherry rides racing out there too — a flamed out ‘78 Camaro with chrome door handles and mirrors taking on a ’74 Dodge Charger with a stupid Starsky & Hutch paint scheme and some bonus Shelby stripes thrown on for good measure. Like any self-respecting Mopar owner would paint their race car like a TV-cop-drama-Ford. What’s next, Bo and Luke change the number on the General Lee to 53 and go with a Herbie the Love Bug motif? If you watch closely in the scene, the Charger clears out the entire inside wall of tires through Turn 2. Oh, and neither of the drivers are wearing helmets. Maybe Claire caught the dirt track bug too and decided to rub his dirty face in it.
Suspension of Disbelief
If there’s one thing action movie fans demand, it is dedication to realism. There’s nothing worse than seeing a shootout where a guy fires a revolver eight times or the slide is locked back on his pistol, yet it continues to pew-pew-pew away unabated. No worries with any oversight in DoT, though.
It is a poorly kept speed-secret that superspeedway cars always draft better with half the front air dam missing, and what better way to squeeze a few more horsepower out of a plate engine than with a Jeg’s staple — the Moroso Chrome Engine Dress Up Kit! Who needs to seal off the air cleaner to the cowl ... before you slam it, Fram it with a soaked-in sand open element job that looks it came from that clown in the Camaro outside Cole’s laundromat. Engine failures unfortunately are a part of racing, and when they occur, you can spot one by the tell-tale sign of bottle rockets shooting out of the exhaust pipes.
That aside, the best way to side-draft your opponent to stall him out while maintaining your momentum is to drive him into the wall so hard it buckles the nose of his car. Be careful though, you don’t want to do it so hard that it makes it too pointy, as that may allow him to just edge you out at the line. Just ask Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven from Darlington back in 2003. Wait … that actually kind of happened.
The Big One in Turn 4 … No Caution … Magical Downshifting!
Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000225 EndHTML:0000003769 StartFragment:0000002746 EndFragment:0000003733 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/matt/Desktop/File%20Backups/NASCAR/2014%20Season/Contributors/Vito/DaysOfBlunder.docx Ken Squier deemed Turn 4 at Daytona “Calamity Corner” in 1983. In 1990, the name held true as the final Daytona 500 scene featured a massive crash that Cole had to navigate his way through to get over his fears. Well, if you look closely, the No. 51 Mello Yellow Lumina is actually wadded up on the apron. Apparently, that is @TheOrangeCone on the right during his more svelte days as a stunt cinematographer. That faux pas aside, Cole weaves his way through the carnage and announces he’s “outta here!” Uh, no caution? Four-car wreck at 200 mph? Keep ‘em going. Even ARCA thinks that’s amateur hour. Thankfully, Cole has catch-up mode on and instantly regains the mile he lost slowing down. I guess it was pretty easy to catch back up though, seeing as he was up against a three-year-old Thunderbird with short track brake duct holes in the headlights.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
“Wheeler knocked me into Gant … Gant spun out!” Well, that’s actually Brett Bodine bud, but whatever. They’re both green cars so it probably doesn’t matter. Bodine actually drives the pace car now, so hopefully Cole doesn’t follow Harry Hogge’s instructions to hit it so he’ll be perfect.
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