Ranked: The 10 worst racing films of all time

Elizabeth Blackstock
Herbie: Fully Loaded features on our list of worst racing films.

Lindsey Lohan starred in 2005's Herbie: Fully Loaded.

For every great racing film out there in the world, there are probably a few other very bad ones. Today, we’re looking at some of the worst motorsport movies of all time.

The films on this list made it here for plenty of different reasons. Some are just plain old inaccurate. Others would have had potential if their plots weren’t so bad. Some simply came from the minds of folks who probably hadn’t actually ever watched a race in their lives.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth watching. In fact, if I’m honest, some of my favourite motorsport film watching experiences have come from titles on this list — but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly good.

10. Le Mans (1971)

Yes, Le Mans is a classic film in the motorsport canon, replete with exceptional on-track scenes and the kind of period footage vintage enthusiasts crave. As a film, however, it leaves a lot to be desired; the flimsy plot was developed by Hollywood executives who simply wanted Steve McQueen to quit spending their money shooting race cars.

It’s a movie best enjoyed for its on-track scenes, and that’s about it.

9. Gran Turismo (2023)

Gran Turismo has all the makings of a stellar Hollywood script. Young Jann Mardenborough got his motorsport start behind the wheel of a racing simulator before he was awarded with a Nissan drive after beating 90,000 contestants to win the GT Academy competition.

Unfortunately, the film itself is a little tedious, distracted, and predictable, which transforms a frankly unbelievable story into a little bit of a bore.

8. Speed Racer (2008)

Based on the long-running anime and produced by the groundbreaking Wachowski sisters, Speed Racer is the film equivalent of a hyperactive sugar rush.

The film has gained a cult fanbase in the years since its release thanks to its wholly experimental nature and fun family atmosphere. Speed Racer still lacks much by way of the storyline that made its protagonist an international star.

7. Lady Driver (2020)

While Lady Driver succeeds in the fact that it’s one of the only racing movies out there to feature a woman as a protagonist, an uncommon gender doesn’t save this Netflix film from falling victim to cliché writing and a weird moral message that rewards the protagonist for lying to her family about her racing hobby.

Lady Driver wouldn’t seem out of place on the Lifetime Movie Channel — and that’s not a good thing.

6. Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)

Herbie: Fully Loaded is a modern callback to Herbie, the cute Volkswagen Beetle that starred in 1969’s The Love Bug, but it doesn’t quite capture the whimsical essence of the first.

With Linday Lohan as the star of this Disney reboot, you can expect a fun romp for the kids, but it’s a bit boring and suffers from music montages plopped into the story in place of plot.

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5. Need for Speed (2014)

The premise of Need for Speed lies in street racing, not officially sanctioned track racing, and is inspired by the video game of the same name — which should give you an indication of this film’s lack of plot.

If you’re looking for a straightforward and predictable crime story packed with action and car chases, you’ll likely have fun; just don’t dig too deep under the surface lest you stumble into some pesky plot holes.

4. Kart Racer (2003)

In Kart Racer, a teenage boy turns to his father to learn how to race go-karts, mending their relationship in the process while that teenager also falls in love with a rebellious local gal. It’s a fun film, but it’s extremely corny and so predictable that I was able to pinpoint the entire plot within the first 10 minutes. I love the film, but I love it because it is bad.

3. Trading Paint (2019)

In Trading Paint, a stock car racing legend is lured back to competing on local dirt tracks, where his son signs up with a rival race team. Unfortunately, Trading Paint starts to fall apart fairly quickly into the story when it becomes clear that the production team knew very little about motorsport.

An interesting narrative could have helped, but it’s overshadowed by such basic mistakes of racing knowledge that even laypeople could recognise something was wrong.

2. At Any Price (2012)

For the generation that grew up with High School Musical, it can be difficult to imagine Zac Efron as anything other than a teenage singer, and that makes the dark themes of At Any Price much more challenging to grasp.

In the story, an Iowa seed farmer wants his son — played by Efron — to become involved in the family business, but Efron’s character would rather become a race car driver. It’s a film that could have had a lot of depth to it, but the script and the acting never quite got the job done in any compelling, nuanced way.

1. Driven (2001)

Has there ever been a worse racing film than Driven? Sometimes referred to as “Rocky on Wheels,” this soap opera of a film might have been more enjoyable if it hadn’t taken itself so seriously.

There are some fun racing scenes, and Driven’s plotline is so absurd that it can be enjoyable if you’re in the right mood — but you don’t watch Driven to watch a quality racing film. You watch Driven to spectate a train wreck.

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