33 Best Car Racing Movies Filmed Around the World

Rush (2013) is one of the best car racing movies

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Ever since the first auto race zoomed across the finish line at the end of the 19th century, motorheads have been obsessed with driving fast and watching other people drive fast. It’s not surprising that car racing movies have been around since Charlie Chaplin’s Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914).

There is a movie about any and all sports these days. Why wouldn’t filmmakers want to capture the tension, drama, and excitement of motor races, from street racing to Formula One?

If you’re also into car racing, watching it, or playing racing-based video games, you’ve probably watched a few good racing movies in your time! I’ve curated a list of car racing movies so you can tick off the ones you’ve already seen and fill in the gaps with the ones you haven’t.

While I’m not super into racing cars, I can appreciate a good movie whatever its subject matter. I also appreciate many have global, wanderlust-inspiring settings! With no further stalling, let’s wave the checkered flag and discover all the top films about racing.

Top Car Racing Movies for Speed Demons

1. Grand Prix (1966)

English | 176m
92% Rotten Tomatoes

Grand Prix is one of the first epic (it’s certainly long!) car racing movies in Hollywood starring James Garner as American race car driver Pete Aron. He’s up against a Brit, an Italian, and a Frenchman competing in a fictionalised version of the 1966 Formula One season with the last race located in Italy.

It was one of the highest-grossing movies that year and won three Academy Awards for its incredible technical achievements. Just watching a Grand Prix race is a bucket list item for most motorheads and there’s no experience like it!

Grand Prix (1966) one of the top Hollywood racing movies
Grand Prix | © 1966 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

English | 145m
70% Rotten Tomatoes

Is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang strictly a car racing film? Frankly, my dear, I don’t care. The titular vehicle is a souped-up champion racecar which allows the Potts family to float on water, fly through the air, and enjoy great adventures in England and the fictitious land of Vulgaria (filmed in France and Germany).

There are some big names attached to this film. It stars Dick Van Dyke as father and inventor Caracatus Potts and there are some banging tunes. It’s also based on a book by Ian Fleming (yes, the James Bond author!), with a screenplay by Roald Dahl.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | © 1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Read more: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Filming Locations Guide

3. Winning (1969)

English | 123m
63% Rotten Tomatoes

The legendary Paul Newman stars as Frank Capua, a wannabe racing car driver who neglects his wife Elora and stepson Charley when he becomes hellbent on winning the Indianapolis 500. Lonely Elora falls into the arms of Frank’s rival, Lou, but Charley refuses to watch his family fall apart.

It’s not Paul Newman’s best, but fans of race car movies will love it regardless!

Winning (1969) is an auto racing movie starring Paul Newman
Winning | © 1969 Universal Pictures

4. The Love Bug (1969)

English | 108m
78% Rotten Tomatoes

The Love Bug was the first movie to feature everyone’s favourite sentient Volkswagen Beetle, Herbie! Jim Douglas is a down-and-out racecar driver reluctantly competing in Demolition Derby races near San Francisco. After visiting a European car showroom, the little Beetle follows him home and his life (and racing career) is never the same.

It’s one of the greatest family-friendly racing car movies of all time. Herbie Rides Again (1974) was the sequel followed by Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) and Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). This isn’t the last you’ll see of Herbie on this list!

The Love Bug (1968)
The Love Bug | © 1968 Walt Disney Studios

5. Le Mans (1971)

English | 106m
71% Rotten Tomatoes

Many dubbed Steve McQueen the ‘King of Cool’ thanks to his natural antihero charm and rugged good looks, but he was known as Harvey Mushman on the track. Yes, McQueen was a racecar driver when he wasn’t making movies about racing cars and 1960s/1970s counterculture! Check out the documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (2015) to learn more.

So, his starring role in Le Mans was a great fit. He plays Michael Delaney, a driver for the Gulf Porsche team in the #20 Porsche 917 car. The story follows him competing in The 24 Hours of Le Mans, a brutal endurance auto-racing competition held in Le Mans, France.

Le Mans (1971) is one of the best racing movies starring Steve McQueen
Le Mans | © 1971 Paramount Entertainment

6. The Last American Hero (1973)

English | 95m
75% Rotten Tomatoes

The Last American Hero is based on the true story of Junior Johnson, a NASCAR racing driver. Jeff Bridges stars as the similarly named Junior Jackson, a brilliant driver forced to become the breadwinner when his father is sent to jail. He enters a demolition derby before trying his hand at the riskier stock car racing in his home state of North Carolina.

It’s a feel-good, underdog car race movie that doesn’t get enough attention!

The Last American Hero (1973)
The Last American Hero | © 1973 20th Century Studios

7. Death Race 2000 (1975)

English | 80m
82% Rotten Tomatoes

Death Race 2000 is a little different than most other racing car movies on this list. Not only is it a high-stakes action movie, but it’s also a dystopian sci-fi set in the United States in the year 2000. The brutal Transcontinental Road Race is in its 20th year, and five racers – including Sylvester Stallone’s Joe “Machine Gun” Viterbo and David Caradine’s Frankenstein – are competing.

It’s become a cult classic and, as you can see from the Rotten Tomatoes score, critics like Death Race 2000 too. Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2008 remake is less beloved.

Death Race 2000 (1975) top car racing movie
Death Race 2000 | © 1975 New World Pictures

8. Days of Thunder (1990)

English | 108m
38% Rotten Tomatoes

Panned by critics but loved by fans, Days of Thunder is one of the best and most famous drag racing movies. It stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and was directed by Tony Scott, no less.

Cruise plays aspiring NASCAR driver Cole Trickle. During the film, he drives around the famous Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and competes in the Firecracker 400 and Daytona 500 at Daytona Beach, Florida. He drives a No. 46 City Chevrolet, the SuperFlo Chevrolet, and the No. 51 Mello Yello Chevrolet in the movie.

Days of Thunder (1990) one of the most beloved racing car movies
Days of Thunder | © 1990 Paramount Pictures

9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

English | 106m
54% Rotten Tomatoes

Yup, you knew this was coming. The Fast & Furious franchise includes some of the most famous car racing films of all time. But they came from humble beginnings. The Fast and the Furious follows Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) as an undercover LAPD cop who infiltrates a street racing gang led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) in Los Angeles.

Unlike other car racing movies set on famous race tracks or at big competitions, The Fast and the Furious is more of a crime/heist movie than a sports drama. But there’s no ‘fast’ without the cars!

The Fast and the Furious (2001) is an iconic street racing film
The Fast and the Furious | © 2001 Universal Pictures

10. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

English | 108m
37% Rotten Tomatoes

Thanks to a sizeable box office, the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious was released two years later. This time, they’re in Miami! Ex-cop Brian returns sans Toretto. He begins transporting dirty money for a powerful dealer while working undercover to take him down.

Let’s be honest, it’s nowhere near one of the top racing movies. However, there are still lots of high-speed chases and very nice vehicles.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
2 Fast 2 Furious | © 2003 Universal Pictures

11. Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)

English | 100m
41% Rotten Tomatoes

Yes! Herbie’s back, baby! It’s a direct sequel to the other Herbie movies and stars Lindsay Lohan as Maggie Peyton, the new owner of the Beetle with a mind of its own. One minute she’s driving Herbie home from a junkyard, the next she’s competing in a demolition derby and is NASCAR-bound.

Most of the movie was filmed in and around Los Angeles, with many race scenes shot at the 2004 Pop Secret 500 race at the California Speedway.

Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
Herbie: Fully Loaded | © 2005 Walt Disney Studios

12. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

English | 108m
71% Rotten Tomatoes

Even if you’re not a fan of most racing car movies (although, if you aren’t, how on earth did you make it here?!), chances are you’ll like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It’s peak Will Ferrell as the titular character, a successful NASCAR driver living in North Carolina.

Some scenes take place on the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, hence the name. It’s a funny and lighthearted movie that won’t require much concentration!

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) is a beloved racing film
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby | © 2006 Columbia Pictures

13. Cars (2006)

English | 117m
75% Rotten Tomatoes

I had to include one of my youngest nephew’s favourite films and one of the best cartoon car racing movies. Cars is a Pixar animation set in a world of anthropomorphic vehicles. It stars the voice of Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, an arrogant red racecar stranded along the US Route 66 highway in a forgotten (and fictional town) called Radiator Springs.

It has an all-star voice cast including Paul Newman in one of his last roles, Michael Keeton, and some real racecar drivers. Cars might be a racing car movie for kids, but the box office and response from critics speaks volumes.

Cars (2006) one of the best car racing movies
Cars | © 2006 Walt Disney Studios/Pixar

14. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

English | 104m
37% Rotten Tomatoes

While The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is probably one of the best street racing movies on this list, we all know the franchise was in crisis at this point. It features almost none of the cast from the first two movies.

Teenage car enthusiast Sean Boswell is sent to live with his estranged father in Tokyo and becomes a part of the city’s drifting community. It’s the first Fast & Furious movie with an international location, but not the last!

The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift | © 2006 Universal Pictures

15. Speed Racer (2008)

English | 135m
42% Rotten Tomatoes

Do you like Death Race 2000 and want to watch more sci-fi action car racing movies? Check out Speed Racer by the Wachowskis. Emilie Hirsch stars as the 18-year-old titular character who faces problems when he chooses to remain loyal to the family company, Racer Motors, and not take the fame and riches offered elsewhere.

It’s got an amazing cast featuring Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, and Christina Ricci. The Wachowskis mostly shot the film in and around studios in Potsdam and Berlin. Speed Racer is based on a manga series and the film has a strong cult following.

Speed Racer (2008)
Speed Racer | © 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment

16. Fast & Furious (2009)

English | 107m
28% Rotten Tomatoes

Just in case you’ve lost count (the vague title doesn’t help!), Fast & Furious is the fourth instalment and both lead actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back. Brian is now an FBI agent and he helps Toretto avenge the murder of Toretto’s partner and take down a drug lord.

Fast & Furious was filmed in California and the Dominican Republic and, of course, features lots of sports cars and high-thrill chase sequences. Despite the bad reviews, Fast & Furious performed extremely well at the box office.

Fast & Furious (2009) one of the best car racing movies
Fast & Furious | © 2009 Universal Pictures

17. Cars 2 (2011)

English | 106m
39% Rotten Tomatoes

The Fast films aren’t the only good car racing movies with sequels! Cars 2, unfortunately, isn’t as good as the first, but it does transport the original characters overseas. Red sportscar Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater are competing in the World Grand Prix with races in Tokyo, Paris, Porto Corsa in Italy, and London.

It’s incredible how many countries host a Formula One Grand Prix race every year! You can watch the Grand Prix in Belgium, Monaco, Singapore, and tons of destinations around the world.

Cars 2 (2011)
Cars 2 | © 2011 Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar

18. Fast Five (2011)

English | 130m
78% Rotten Tomatoes

Big box office numbers mean another sequel is all but guaranteed! Luckily, Fast Five is where Vin Diesel and the gang found their pace. It’s one of the best racing movies of all time. Toretto, Brian, and Toretto’s sister plan to steal $100 million from a corrupt businessman while a DSS agent is hot on their tail.

Fast Five is a clear departure from the street racing setting of previous films. Now, they are mostly heist/organised crime movies with lots of cool cars. Director Justin Lin filmed in California, Georgia, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Porto Rico.

Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five | © 2011 Universal Pictures

19. Rush (2013)

English, Austrian German | 123m
89% Rotten Tomatoes

Out of every movie on this list, Rush is my hands-down favourite! I firmly believe it’s one of the best racing films of all time. Rush follows the real-life rivalry/friendship between racecar drivers Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

It’s set during the 1976 Formula One season and filming locations include the UK, Austria, and Germany. However, the movie has many more settings like Spain, Japan, and Bologna in Italy.

Rush (2013) is one of the best car racing movies
Rush | © 2013 Universal Pictures

20. Snake & Mongoose (2013)

English | 102m
80% Rotten Tomatoes

Another underrated racing movie also featuring a real-life rivalry is the biographical drama Snake & Mongoose. Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen were successful American drag racers in the 1960s who teamed up to advertise Mattel’s Hot Wheels toys. It might be a difficult movie to find, but it’s worth the watch if you can!

Snake & Mongoose (2013)
Snake & Mongoose | © 2013 Rocky Mountain Pictures

21. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

English | 130m
71% Rotten Tomatoes

Also known as Furious 6, this instalment raises the stakes. It features even more destinations and even more impressive stunts than Fast Five. DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) offers Toretto and Brian et al pardons for their crimes if they help take down a mercenary organization led by former British SAS, Major Owen Shaw (Luke Evans).

Their mission takes the gang everywhere from Los Angeles to London to the Canary Islands in Spain to Tokyo. Glasgow and Liverpool stood in for some of the car chase sequences in London.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Fast & Furious 6 | © 2013 Universal Pictures

22. Need for Speed (2014)

English | 130m
23% Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re already a big fan of the Fast franchise and want to watch other car racing movies like The Fast and the Furious, check out Need for Speed. It stars Aaron Paul as Toby Marshall, a mechanic and street racer from Mount Kisco, New York. He is framed for killing his pal and sets off on a cross-country journey to seek revenge from the real culprit.

His plight takes him all over the USA including Detroit, Utah, the Pacific Coast Highway and San Francisco.

Need for Speed (2014)
Need for Speed | © 2014 DreamWorks II

23. Furious 7 (2015)

English | 137m
81% Rotten Tomatoes

Furious 7 is yet another hit for the Fast franchise with lots of high-octane, gas-guzzling action scenes. Toretto and Brian work for covert ops leader Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to prevent a terrorist from obtaining a hacking programme. Unfortunately, former special forces solider Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) puts the rest of the team in danger.

It’s also country-hopping caper with Atlanta, Abu Dhabi, and Pikes Peak Highway in Colorado being notable filming locations. Tragically, Furious 7 marks Paul Walker’s last appearance in the franchise as he died in November 2013 partway through production.

Furious 7 (2015) one of the best car racing movies
Furious 7 | © 2015 Universal Pictures

24. Italian Race (2016)

Italian | 118m
86% Rotten Tomatoes

My apologies for Italian Race being the only non-English language movie on this list! I’m sure there are other great car racing movies in other languages and I’m happy to receive recommendations. The life and career of rally car driver Carlo Capone inspired Italian Race.

In the movie, Giulia De Martino is a 17-year-old born into a family of motoring enthusiasts. She takes part in the GT Championship under the guidance of her father but the return of her unpredictable brother Loris shakes things up. It’s set in the small town of Imola in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Italian Race (2016) one of the top car racing movies
Italian Race | © 2016 Andrea Pirrello

25. Logan Lucky (2017)

English | 119m
92% Rotten Tomatoes

I’m not sure if Logan Lucky is strictly a racing car movie, but it’s a great film set on a race track so I’m counting it! The Logan family is made up of Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver), and Mellie (Riley Keough). They enlist convict Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to help them rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day weekend.

It’s such a clever and entertaining heist movie but I wouldn’t expect anything less from filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. He did create the Ocean’s movies, after all!

Logan Lucky (2017)
Logan Lucky | © 2017 Bleeker Street

26. Cars 3 (2017)

English | 102m
69% Rotten Tomatoes

The last movie in the franchise (so far), Pixar’s Cars 3 brings back old favourite characters and introduces new ones. Lightning McQueen is now a veteran racecar who must prove that he stacks up against more technologically advanced cars to avoid his exclusion from the Piston Cup.

It’s set all over the US in real places like Los Angeles and Thomasville, Georgia as well as fictional towns like Fireball Beach, Thunder Hollow, and Radiator Springs.

Cars 3 (2017)
Cars 3 | © 2017 Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar

27. The Fate of the Furious (2018)

English, Mandarin | 136m
67% Rotten Tomatoes

The Fate of the Furious attempts to find a new path after the death of Paul Walker in this eighth instalment. Toretto is settled down and living a quiet life with his partner when a cyberterrorist (Charlize Theron) coerces him to work for her before turning against him.

The film’s budget was $270 million which makes it one of the most expensive movies ever made! Atlanta, New York City, Iceland, and Havana in Cuba are all filming locations.

The Fate of the Furious (2018) one of the best car racing movies
The Fate of the Furious | © 2018 Universal Pictures

28. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

English | 152m
92% Rotten Tomatoes

Ford v Ferrari (also known as Le Mans ’66) is a top pick if you are looking for modern, new car racing movies to watch. It’s a biographical drama based on real people and events that occurred before and during The 24 Hours of Le Mans race in Le Mans, France.

Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, an American former racecar driver and engineer, tasked with helping British Ford driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Their job was to beat Ferrari who were dominating the racing scene in 1966. It’s a great movie with tons of award nominations and accolades. Other filming locations include Georgia, California and Louisiana in the USA.

Ford v Ferrari (2019) is one of the best car racing movies
Ford v Ferrari | © 2019 20th Century Studios

29. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

English | 137m
67% Rotten Tomatoes

The Fast Franchise is back, but this time it’s with the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw. Jason Statham reprises his role as Deckard Shaw and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is back as Luke Hobbs. Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirkby) joins the gentlemen to apprehend Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a cybernetically enhanced terrorist with a deadly virus.

Primarily set in London, filming locations include Glasgow (posing as London during highspeed chases) and Kaua’i in Hawaii. Just because it’s not one of the main Fast & Furious movies, doesn’t mean you still can’t expect a lot of auto races and chases!

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
Hobbs & Shaw | © 2019 Universal Pictures

30. F9: The Fast Saga (2021)

English | 143m
59% Rotten Tomatoes

Just two years later, the Fast Saga continues with F9. Toretto and the family join forces again to stop a plot involving his younger brother, Jakob (John Cena) behind enemy lines. It’s another global affair with scenes set in Edinburgh, London, Tbilisi, Los Angeles, and Thailand.

F9: The Fast Saga (2021)
F9: The Fast Saga | © 2021 Universal Pictures

31. Rally Road Racers (2023)

English | 93m
70% Rotten Tomatoes

Cars aren’t the only animated car racing movies! Rally Road Racers is another great family-friendly racing film starring the voice of Jimmy O. Yang as Zhi. He is a slow loris who tries to save his rural Chinese village from villainous racer, real-estate developer, and cane toad Archie Vainglorious (John Cleese).

I love that the movie is set in China, not the USA or Europe. It’s original and it works!

Rally Road Racers (2023)
Rally Road Racers | © 2023 Vertigo Releasing

32. Fast X (2023)

English | 141m
56% Rotten Tomatoes

The Fast family is back for a tenth instalment: Fast X. Toretto and the gang are up against Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) who is retaliating after losing his father and family fortune. Los Angeles, London, Rome, Turin, Lisbon and other Portuguese cities like Almada, Viseu, and Vila Real were all filming locations.

While Fast X is the last Fast & Furious movie released at the time of writing, a sequel is in the works and due to be released in 2026. It’s supposed to be the final instalment of the main series but all that means is that we should expect more spin-offs!

Fast X (2023)
Fast X | © 2023 Universal Pictures

33. Gran Turismo (2023)

English | 134m
65% Rotten Tomatoes

Based on the racing simulation video game of the same name, Gran Turismo tells the true story of British teenager Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe). He played the video game for many years and became a professional racing driver. Jack Salter (David Harbour), a former British driver and mechanic, is his trainer for the GT Academy.

Although set in tons of places like Austria, Germany, Spain, and Dubai, most of Gran Turismo‘s filming took place in Hungary. It’s a fun, lighthearted movie about an underdog that you can watch with kids. What’s not to like?

Gran Turismo (2023) is one of the latest car racing movies
Gran Turismo | © 2023 Sony Pictures

Other Racing Car Movies: Stoker Ace (1983), Race the Sun (1996), Gone In 60 Seconds (2000), Driven (2001), Redline (2007), Turbo (2013), Trading Paint (2018)

That’s a Wrap on the Best Movies About Racing

Those are all the best car racing movies filmed around the world out right now! I’ve not included any documentaries, but there are some incredible docs out there following legendary racers like Arton Senna.

Are you a racing car driver or do you love to watch car racing? Do you have any recommendations for films I haven’t included? Let me know in the comments!

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