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And so, now that summer is officially here, for some odd reason the mind turns to Hollywood. Sure, movies come out year-round, but you don't see headlines about 'fall blockbusters'; summer is just a movie thing, and certainly, with the news coming in about the new Mongoo$e and Snake movie progressing, it can only stoke the interest of racing enthusiasts nationwide.
Now some of us of a particular vintage have been to this dance before, whether it was Days of Thunder or Heart Like a Wheel.
Or one that rings up in my mind, in the coverage of the 1974 AHRA Winternationals that ran in all the magazines at the time -- photos of a doorslammer crashing into ramps that were there for some Evel Knievel movie scenes being shot. Wow, another Evel movie?
Like most young red-blooded American males at the time, I was a fan of Evel, and could not wait to see THIS, and then I saw it. Should've waited, Sparky. Much like the laundry you'd haul home from a week camped out by IRP for the Nationals, boy did that thing stink. More on that one later.
But for now, the task at hand, as laid out to me by the Burkster himself, is a list of racing movies of various levels, some good-GOOD, some good-BAD, but all important in their own ways. Two things the boss made known about what he wanted on this exercise though, were: 2) “Jon, you're mental, we get that. Not a problem” and 1) “PLEASE don't just trot out the usual suspects. Bring something new to the table.”
So, with all due respect, there will be no 2 Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, Bullitt, or Gone in 60 Seconds on the list. (and that means the second "Gone", I mean how weird was that with all the gooney special effects, things looking all big and surreal, and I'm just talking about Angie Jolie’s LIPS!)
And before we really get to it, an apologyis due, in that I could not secure a copy of a film I DESPERATELY wanted on the list, and will not go with my memories of seeing it at the drive-in in '75 or whatever, which is the film Corky. I remain a loyal fan of Mickey Gubitosi, and this was one of his finest works as he creates the bizarro-world answer to John Milner, only this home-town-hero-hot-rodder is anything BUT the guy with a heart of gold who comes through for you. Nah, he’s a gold plated jerk who stomps on anything and anybody close to him. In the film’s wild climax, as Corky gets the automotive equivalent of what Jennifer Jason Leigh got in the final reel of Last Exit to Brooklyn, you find yourself grieving more for his '68 'Cuda than its driver. If you find a copy of this in a bin at flea market or whatever, snap it up and give me a call… road trip time!
Usually, lists are the Top Ten, but ten is just too conventional a number for me, so we will steal a page from England’s Loudest Band, SPINAL TAP and turn this list up to EEEEleven, 'cause its "one louder.” And as we are drag racing in nature here, the films will be grouped into categories, or classes as it were. And so, without any further ado, first up in the lanes will be…