Thursday, February 15
Daytona, a movie, and a song.
Nascar’s season begins this Sunday. The Daytona 500. Different from other sports, Nascar starts the season with it’s biggest race. It’s Super Bowl.
Nascar’s roots are of southern drivers illegally hauling booze in souped up cars during the 1930’s and 40’s. Depression southerners had figured out that cars and speed were tickets to a better life. With few options beyond the farm or factory, the best chance of escape was running moonshine.
Even today, the shady, get away with what you can attitude still survives. Just days ago, five teams were caught cheating and have been punished by suspensions or fines.
Ruining Toyota’s debut in Nascar, the new Michael Waltrip team was one of the guilty. They got caught trying to use an illegal fuel additive found in jet fuel. That’s so outrageous it’s funny.
A movie that captures the spirit of Nascar is Days of Thunder.
Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle. Robert Duvall as Harry Hogge. Nicole Kidman as “brain surgeon”, Dr. Claire Lewicki.
One of the more famous lines to come out of it was “he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin'.” Also in the movie, building a car while cheating on the specifications was a desired skill.
I’ve seen this movie way too many times. It was Clint’s favorite movie for many years - for awhile, it was on every time I came home. Now, It’s one of those (like the Back to the Future series) movies, that if you find it flipping through the channels you end up watching it.
Days of Thunder revolved around a talented, hot-shot auto racing rookie, Cole Trickle (Cruise), who, after trying his hand in the American open wheel ranks, seeks to win on the NASCAR circuit. His mechanic mentor, Harry Hogge (Duvall), acts as his crew chief and Dr. Claire Lewicki (Kidman) is a young and beautiful brain surgeon who tries to tame Cole.
Some NASCAR aficionados also took offense at the overuse and exaggeration of the "rubbing" (bumping) action of NASCAR, featuring maneuvers between cars that were overly dangerous and uncommon, even for the period of time in NASCAR history that the movie was filmed. This included a scene where Cole, after having been knocked out of a race at the very end by an opponent, instructed his pit crew to replace his flattened tires, proceeding to run out on the track and smash his car into the victorious rival who knocked him out of the race.
The plot was very loosely based on some real-life NASCAR personalities: Duvall's character was based on crew chief Harry Hyde, Cruise's on Tim Richmond, and Randy Quaid's on a composite of several owners, one of whom was Rick Hendrick. Hendrick also provided the movie cars, driven by then-NASCAR drivers Greg Sacks, Bobby Hamilton, and Hut Stricklin, with Hamilton making his Cup debut at Phoenix in 1989 in a movie car. Although this was not acknowledged by the film publicly this was obvious to fans from many coincidences between the film and well known events.
Kidman's casting as a brain surgeon was also panned by some critics; as a stunning 23-year-old who looked that age or younger, she looked completely implausible as a doctor, let alone a surgeon (who typically do not begin to practice until their thirties). Her casting probably had a considerable amount to do with Cruise's real-life interest in her - they married soon after.
A favorite part of the movie of mine is Cole and Claire in a car in a parking garage. She’s yelling, "Let me out of the cah.(my spelling) Let me out. - Let me out or I'm getting out." - The accent made it. Love repeating that dialog.
Othe noteable quotes from the movie.
Cole getting used to Nascar racing:
Harry Hogge: Cole, you're wandering all over the track!
Cole Trickle: Yeah, well this son of a bitch just slammed into me.
Harry Hogge: No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you... he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin'.
Cole running a couple of test laps for the first time:
Harry Hogge: What do you know about stock car racing?
Cole Trickle: Well... watched it on television, of course.
Harry Hogge: You've seen it on television?
Cole Trickle: ESPN. The coverage is excellent, you'd be surprised at how much you can pick up.
Harry Hogge: I'm sure I would.
During a pit stop:
Harry Hogge: All right. While we're still under a caution, I want you to go back out on that track and hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: Hit the pace car?
Harry Hogge: Hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: What for?
Harry Hogge: Because you've hit every other goddamned thing out there, I want you to be perfect.
Doctor and patient:
Dr. Claire Lewicki: Boy, you're very quick.
Cole Trickle: You oughta see me drive.
(The quote above is very lame. I had to include it. Ha)
Gimme Some Lovin'