Days of Thunder, the household NASCAR movie, stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, and Randy Quaid. Packed full of intense racing and insane drama, the film also packs some of the funniest and most real quotes about racing. As the young gun from California tries to make a name in NASCAR, he hits some speed bumps along the way. Some of those speed bumps end up more like fiery crashes. Here are some of the best lines from the racing masterpiece.
General Plot of the NASCAR Movie
Cole Trickle, played by Tom Cruise, comes from California to get into stock car racing. While he has won championships in open-wheel racing, he thinks he can make a name for himself in NASCAR. Tim Daland (Randy Quaid), a Chevy dealership tycoon, recruits Trickle to his racing team. He also brings on Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) out of retirement to work as Trickle’s crew chief.
As in every racing movie, Trickle has to have a rival. The rival comes in the form of Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker), who intimidates Trickle in his first race. After Hogge puts Trickle through rigorous NASCAR training, the Burns/Trickle rivalry intensifies. The rivalry culminates in a fiery crash that hospitalizes both racers.
In a shocking turn of events, the former NASCAR enemies become best friends after getting over their differences over a dinner. However, a new rivalry arises as youngster Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes) takes over Trickle’s spot during his injury. This rivalry also results in several bumps, crashes, and eventually a fight that leads to Daland firing both Trickle and Hogge.
However, Rowdy discovers that he must enter surgery ahead of the Daytona 500. He asks Trickle to fill his spot so that his sponsors will pay him for the NASCAR season. Trickle reluctantly accepts and ends up winning at Daytona after an epic battle with his rival, Russ.
Best Quotes from Days of Thunder
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’.”
Dr. Claire Lewicki: “You and Rowdy have the same illness, it’s called denial and it’s probably going to kill you both.”
Tim Daland: “Harry, I know you’re great, you know you’re great, but if the guy in the car doesn’t trust you, we’re never gonna win a damn NASCAR race.”
Harry Hogge: “The drivers can’t stand to be reminded of what can happen to ’em in a racecar. They, they don’t go to hospitals, they don’t go to funerals. You get a driver to a funeral before he’s actually dead, you’ve made history, darlin’.”
Dr. Claire Lewicki: “Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies, and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs.”
Big John: “If you two wanna turn yourselves into a greasy spot out on a country road somewhere, go right ahead. I don’t give a shit and I don’t think anybody else does, but you two monkeys are not going to do it on my NASCAR racetrack… You trade paint one more time, you so much as touch, I’m gonna Black Flag the two of you, and tear apart your racecars for three-hundred laps.”
Harry Hogge: “What kind of driver are you going to find after the season’s started? Some old boy who’s washed up, and wasn’t worth a shit, to begin with.”
Tim Daland: “I had NASCAR sponsors in from all over the coast and I’m hugging, and holding hands, and praying for a good showin’. And what do we do? We end up looking like a monkey f***ing a football out there. Everybody out, please.”
Cole Trickle: “Claire, I’m more afraid of bein’ nothing than I am of being hurt.”
The Iconic Final Scene
Cole Trickle: “Now are you gonna walk, or am I gonna have to carry you?”
Harry Hogge: “To where?”
Cole Trickle: “Victory Lane.”
Harry Hogge: “Walk? Hell… I’ll race your ass.”