Film: Days of Thunder

1990 action drama starring Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle, a race car driver who enters the world of NASCAR. His attitude gets him into trouble with not only other drivers, but his own team as well. Directed by Tony Scott, the film co-stars Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, and Cruise's future ex-wife, Nicole Kidman.

These tropes seen in this film include:

  • Arc Words: Harry's "I'll RACE your ass!"
  • Artistic License Sports: Despite the official cooperation of NASCAR and several race teams, the movie still has some howling inaccuracies. Real-life racing legend Richard Petty once said, when asked how similar the NASCAR racing of this movie was to real-life racing, "The cars have numbers on them, and they go fast. That's about it." Here are some of the more egregious things:
    • A Sprint Cup team needs more than one car. This is not just a question of repairing damage and having a backup car ready, but of suitability. In the Sprint Cup Series, a team keeps several cars for the year: cars exclusively for designed the restrictor plate races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, cars exclusively for the road course races at Watkins Glen, Sonoma as well as the Pocono racesnote , cars specifically built for the short track races at venues like Bristol and Martinsville, cars specifically built for the non-plate superspeedways, and cars built for the intermediate length tracks.
    • Or that even Trickle couldn't pass everybody else in the race in the last three laps at Daytona. Unless he's an AI driver who has superhuman abilities that even Dale Earnhardt was incapable of making. During the Darlington race earlier in the movie, the driver would have lost a lot more than just two positions with the extra time he spent on pit road, due to the egg-shaped configuration.
    • A driver would be banned from NASCAR (and probably all motorsports) for life if he went out and rammed the winner from behind during his victory lap.
    • On many occasions, Cole seems to be missing the yellow rookie stripe from his rear bumper.
    • After the caution in the final race when Cole beats the pace car out of pit road, the race restarts with Wheeler, the leader, starting on the inside line. Wheeler's car should have been on the outside line, since, prior to June 2009, double-file restarts in the Sprint Cup Series only happened in the non-point events. Prior to 2009, lead-lap cars restarted on the outside line and lap down cars restarted on the inside line.
  • Badass Driver: Goes with the territory.
  • Car Porn: As befitting a movie about NASCAR.
  • Defictionalisation:
    • Kyle Busch being nicknamed 'Rowdy' Busch as a nod to the movie. The name has stuck.
    • Bobby Hamilton actually made his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut as a result of the movie. He was hired to drive the Rowdy Burns racecar, even qualifying the non-competitive car in fifth at Phoenix in 1989.
  • Fair Cop: Subverted in that she wasn't really a cop
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Big John, high-ranking NASCAR official basically implied to be the head of the organization (and expy of Big Bill France), who takes a Serious Business view towards Cole's and Rowdy's unpredictability and tells them to cut it out. The fact that he's played by Fred Dalton Thompson helps in making him come across as a Badass Corporate Executive.
  • Hospital Hottie: Nicole Kidman in a lab coat. Enough said.
  • The Mentor: Harry to Cole.
  • Odd Couple: Young hotshot driver Cole and jaded veteran crew chief Harry.
  • Product Placement: All over the place in terms of sponsorships. As the movie is about NASCAR, this could also be fairly construed as Truth in Television.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: "Cole Trickle" was derided by some critics as too much of a stereotype NASCAR sounding name. Except that the name is a Shout-Out to Dick Trickle.
  • Rivals Team Up: Cole and Rowdy, by the end.
  • Spiritual Successor: Tom Cruise controls (pilots) an extremely fast piece of machinery, deals with a crisis about 2/3's of the way in following a traumatic accident involving a friend, only to come out of it at the end and win the heart of his higher-class love interest. All with a power ballad soundtrack.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In one race, Cole is pulling in for a pit stop, when another car pulls out in front of him. Swerving to miss the other car causes Cole to skid out of control such that he's heading for the pit's wall at (by pit-stop standards) a high speed, to which Cole remarks "Uh-oh, this is gonna hurt."
  • Understatement: "You boys are late."-Big John "We, uh, had, car trouble."-Rowdy
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Cole Trickle was based on Tim Richmond and crew chief Harry Hogge on Harry Hyde. Richmond being a former Indy Car driver and an upstart outsider who started winning when paired with a gruff veteran engineer.