As much of a racing and motorsport enthusiast as I am, I must admit, I have yet to see the latest racing movie, Rush, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda and James Hunt and chronicling the real-life story of these two 1970s-era Formula One drivers, from their intense rivalry to Lauda’s death-defying injuries.
Although a racing fan, I’m usually not a big fan of racing movies, maybe because of the over-the-top effects that, to me, take the action from at least somewhat realistic to the utterly ridiculous. Not that I don’t like a little fantasy in my movies. Maybe when it comes to my racing movies, I just like to keep it real.
I do admit that, over the years, I have enjoyed the cheesiness of racing movies like Talladega Nights and Stroker Ace, but other than that, most racing movies just haven’t done it for me. Maybe that’s what’s kept me from rushing out to see Rush. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I tend to often-times wait for movies to come out on Netflix or DVD. Maybe I’m just too cheap to buy a movie ticket. I don’t know.
But a recent review by NASCAR driver Brian Vickers may be changing my mind (that and a movie theater gift card recently won from a local television station). Here’s what Vickers had to say about Rush:
“Rush was a great movie. Even if you aren’t into Formula One or NASCAR I think you’ll find it an interesting story. James Hunt and Niki Lauda were the fiercest of rivals in racing and – I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who doesn’t know the story – there’s a lot of twists and turns as they battled for the championship throughout the 1976 season.
“Every professional race car driver relates to a rival – we’ve all had our rivals during our careers. I think the movie shows what we all might not want to admit that your rival pushes you past limits that you didn’t realize you had. There’s a great scene in the movie. Niki Lauda admits to Hunt that – as he was recovering in the hospital after getting badly burned and nearly dying – watching Hunt win races on television motivated him to get better faster. Man, that hit home. I don’t think I’m anything like Niki Lauda but I can definitely relate to that scene. I remember watching races in the hospital after I had the blood clots. That’s mental torture for a race car driver and the desire to get back to racing overrides even your health issues.
“Rush is one of the few movies that kind of portrayed drivers as how we really are. We’re all different. I think a lot of times there are stereotypes for race car drivers, but this movie shows successful drivers with very different personalities. Niki had a single-minded approach to racing where that’s all he thought about and didn’t care if he was liked by anyone. James Hunt was a guy that enjoyed life partying and having a lot of fun. They were completely different but both were successful. That’s true in whatever form of racing you’re in. Heck, that’s true in life. I’ve got a different personality than Jimmie Johnson who is different than Clint Bowyer who is different than someone else. We’re drivers but we are people and people are all different. There’s no formula for success other than talent and hard work.
“One thing I admire Niki for is there are two people that this movie is about and only one of them is alive. You can see how he could easily spin the story in his favor but he didn’t. I felt like it was a very balanced, genuine story. He had his positives and his negatives, and he didn’t try to hide them. I admire that. Many times history favors the victors and I felt for him being honest about who he was and who James was, for better or worse. I got to spend time around Niki when I drove for Red Bull and the movie actor got him perfect. I can also relate to James Hunt’s perspective, which is feeling that you should enjoy life. For me, I think the ultimate answer is a balance between James Hunt’s and Niki Lauda’s mentalities. But that’s just me, other guys will answer differently.
“NASCAR fans will find similarities between Rush and Days of Thunder. I don’t know where I would rank Rush on my list of all-time great racing but I hope it’s a success. Good racing movies take the sport to new audiences and hopefully will win us new fans no matter what form of motorsport we’re in.”
Vickers makes this latest racing theater offering sound pretty good, doesn’t he? Maybe I should put my gift card in my purse and overlook the Days of Thunder comparison and give this movie a chance.
The following brief review from Lauda, himself, will kind of help me forget about that Days of Thunder comparison:
“When I saw it the first time, I was impressed. There was no Hollywood changes or things changed a little bit Hollywood-like. It is very accurate. And this really surprised me very positively.”
Seen Rush, yet? Plan to see it? Let us know your thoughts on the movie. Heck, also tell us about any Hunt/Lauda stories/memories you may have. You can find us on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily and on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.
And before you leave here, check out the following gallery of photos from the movie, as well as the real Hunt and Lauda (photos courtesy of F1 and Wikimedia Commons)