Former NASCAR CEO Brian France Revisits ‘Creative Risk’ of ‘Talladega Nights’

Getty Will Ferrell (left) & Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) attend the 'Talladega Nights' premiere.

Back in 2006, the Will Ferrell-led NASCAR film “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” landed in movie theaters. This comedy has created debates over the years, and now former NASCAR CEO Brian France has provided some new details.

France spoke about “Talladega Nights” during a November 15 appearance on “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast. He detailed his role in helping bridge the gap between Hollywood and NASCAR, especially with the prominent use of movie paint schemes. He also explained why “Talladega Nights” ultimately saw the light of day.

“I think we could still do more of that, truthfully,” France said about partnerships with the film industry. He continued and noted that some have asked, “Do we want to be married with Hollywood?”

“The answer is, ‘Yes, we do,'” France said. “We’ve got to hire… You’ve got to make an investment because that’s not just going to fall into our lap. We’re going to have to put an office out [in Los Angeles]. We’re going to have to hire really good people. We’re going to have to pay them a lot of money. And we’re going to present the opportunity.

“And there goes ‘Talladega Nights,’ which was fun and opened us up and made a little fun at us. We took a little risk there. You’ve got to take some creative risk, but at the end of the day, you’re back to what you’re trying to do. ‘Are we growing the enterprise’s value in a responsible, smart way for everyone?'”


‘Talladega Nights’ Has Created Debate Over the Years

Talladega Nights

Getty‘Talladega Nights’ created debates among NASCAR fans & industry members.

“Talladega Nights” holds a unique position in NASCAR. There are many fans that love the movie, to the point that they dress up as Ferrell’s character during trips to Cup Series races.

Similarly, some drivers have paid tribute to the movie over the years. Kurt Busch has used multiple schemes from the movie during his career, and he has quoted lines in the middle of races. Truck Series driver Tyler Ankrum also used a Ricky Bobby scheme during the Throwback Weekend race in 2021.

While “Talladega Nights” has its supporters, there are also many critics. Several drivers and fans have also been vocal about how they dislike the comedy due to how it portrays the sport and its key figures.

“Talladega Nights” certainly created debates throughout the industry. It also put NASCAR on display for a lot of movie-goers. According to IMDB, the film grossed $163,362,095 worldwide while more than doubling the estimated budget of $72,500,000.


NASCAR Has Worked With Other Projects

Kurt Busch

GettyKurt Busch has used multiple ‘Talladega Nights’ schemes.

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Days of Thunder” are the most frequently mentioned movies that highlight NASCAR. They are wildly different in tone, but they each have a long list of supporters.

There have been some other projects that have featured NASCAR as the basis. The Netflix series “The Crew” was the most recent, and it did not receive a second season after a lukewarm reception. Though NASCAR and its teams promoted it early in the 2022 season with schemes on multiple cars.

Another example is “Logan Lucky,” the Channing Tatum-led heist movie. This comedy focused primarily on Tatum, Daniel Craig, and Adam Driver as they attempted to rob Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600.

The actual heist was the focus of the story, but NASCAR played a prominent role. Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney all had cameo roles while AJ Allmendinger was in the background of some shots. Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, and Darrell Waltrip also had some lines of dialogue.

There are multiple other examples of films that heavily feature NASCAR. “Stroker Ace,” “The Last American Hero,” “Greased Lightning,” “Speedway,” and “Six Pack” are all examples. The “Cars” trilogy also technically qualifies with its voice cast featuring current and former drivers.

Will there be more movies or shows created in collaboration with NASCAR? There is no answer at this moment, but France showed his support for the idea during his appearance on “The Dale Jr. Download.”

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