‘Days of Thunder’ Starring Tom Cruise Premiered in Theaters on This Day in 1990

by Keeli Parkey

Thirty-one years ago today (June 27, 1990), the film “Days of Thunder” raced into movie theaters across the United States. Starring Tom Cruise, the film offered an entertaining look at life behind the wheel of a race car.

Cruise stars as Cole Trickle – a California native and an up-and-coming NASCAR driver focused on being the best driver in stock car racing. His road to success won’t be an easy one because there are obstacles – and other drivers – standing in his way.

Trickle gets recruited to the NASCAR track by the owner of Chevy dealerships named Tim Daland. He is mentored by a crew chief named Harry Hogge. He was brought out of retirement to work with Cruise’s character and make him a success. Also, let’s just say that Hogge doesn’t take it easy on Trickle while they are training in “Days of Thunder.”

One of the drivers standing in the way of Trickle’s path to victory lane is Rowdy Burns. Eventually, because of a serious accident, Trickle and Burns grow to have a very friendly relationship. It is then that a new driver on the scene emerges and challenges Trickle for his spot on the team. You’ll just have to watch the film to find out who the drama plays out.

According to IMDb, in addition to Tom Cruise, the cast of “Days of Thunder” also includes Nicole Kidman as Dr. Claire Lewicki, Robert Duvall as Harry Hogge, Randy Quaid as Tim Daland, Cary Elwes as Russ Wheeler, Michael Rooker as Rowdy Burns, John C. Reilly as Buck Bretherton, and Fred Thompson as Big John, just to name a few.

You can watch the trailer for “Days of Thunder” below.

Here are a Few Interesting Facts About “Days of Thunder”

While “Days of Thunder” was an exciting and dramatic film to watch on the big screen – and now on the small screens at home – there were some interesting things going on behind the scenes.

For example, when the filming of the movie began the script had not been completed. This led to days where scenes were composed on the day their were filmed. This also led to Tom Cruise reading his lines. In fact, his lines were printed on cue cards that were put on his windshield. Unsurprisingly, having to do this resulted in a car accident. While it was “minor,” how Cruise received his lines was altered for other scenes. For those later scenes in “Days of Thunder,” the actor received his lines through an earpiece.

Here’s another interesting tidbit about the film. To get footage of actual race cars competing in a NASCAR race, the production filmed at the Daytona 500 in 1990. Included in this race were two cars that stayed behind the race cars that were actually competing in the race. The cars used for the movie only stayed on the track for 40 laps. Interestingly, legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who was leading the race, actually lapped the two cars being filmed for “Days of Thunder.”

The idea for this film came to Tom Cruise while he and Paul Newman had a chance to drive real race cars. These cars were owned by Rick Hendrick. Cruise reportedly drove his car more than 180 miles per hour on his first lap that day.