“Days of Thunder” turns 30 this year, and to celebrate NASCAR put together a documentary about the making of the movie that brought stock-car racing to the big screen.
The film starred Tom Cruise as NASCAR rookie Cole Trickle. Cruise was introduced to racing by the late Paul Newman, himself a very competitive driver off screen. After co-starring in “The Color of Money,” Newman put Cruise in sports cars, which led to Cruise meeting NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, who eventually let the actor test one of his race cars.
That test—and other conversations with NASCAR personalities—pushed Cruise to pitch a NASCAR movie to producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Cruise and writer Robert Towne then attended races to research the story and characters. They also had to convince NASCAR boss Bill France Jr. to get onboard.
Filming took place at several NASCAR races, including the 1990 Daytona 500. Filmmakers