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The following locations are listed on caption cards: “Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix, Arizona; Bristol, Tennessee; Dover, Delaware; Rockingham, North Carolina; Darlington, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.”
       End credits give the following information: “Special thanks to Hendrick Motorsports Inc.; NASCAR, Inc., Bill France, Jr.--President; Picker International; Dr. Mitchell Cassell; ESPN.” Stunt man Tom Elliott’s last name is misspelled “Elliottt” in the credits.
       Director Tony Scott told the 12 Sep 1989 HR that the producers initially wanted to call the film Riders of the Storm, after a song by Jim Morrison and the Doors, but “couldn’t clear the rights.” The 5 Mar 1989 LAT and 16 Mar 1989 LAHExam reported that the upcoming project was called Born to Run, named after a Bruce Springsteen song. Six months later, according to the 17 Sep 1989 LAT, Paramount “tentatively” titled the film Daytona.
       The 17 Sep 1989 LAT reported that Laura San Giacomo had been hired to portray “an ophthalmologist who initially encounters racer [Tom] Cruise professionally.” Nicole Kidman eventually got the role, and her medical specialty was changed to “neurologist.”
       Although Robert Towne was credited as the film’s sole writer, Donald Stewart claimed he wrote the original draft that made the final film “what it is today,” according to the 9 May 1990 DV. Also, Warren Skaaren wrote seven drafts after Stewart’s, and writer Eric Hughes also contributed.
       According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, principal photography began 11 Dec 1989 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in NC. Other locations in the Charlotte area were “Harry ... More Less

The following locations are listed on caption cards: “Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix, Arizona; Bristol, Tennessee; Dover, Delaware; Rockingham, North Carolina; Darlington, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.”
       End credits give the following information: “Special thanks to Hendrick Motorsports Inc.; NASCAR, Inc., Bill France, Jr.--President; Picker International; Dr. Mitchell Cassell; ESPN.” Stunt man Tom Elliott’s last name is misspelled “Elliottt” in the credits.
       Director Tony Scott told the 12 Sep 1989 HR that the producers initially wanted to call the film Riders of the Storm, after a song by Jim Morrison and the Doors, but “couldn’t clear the rights.” The 5 Mar 1989 LAT and 16 Mar 1989 LAHExam reported that the upcoming project was called Born to Run, named after a Bruce Springsteen song. Six months later, according to the 17 Sep 1989 LAT, Paramount “tentatively” titled the film Daytona.
       The 17 Sep 1989 LAT reported that Laura San Giacomo had been hired to portray “an ophthalmologist who initially encounters racer [Tom] Cruise professionally.” Nicole Kidman eventually got the role, and her medical specialty was changed to “neurologist.”
       Although Robert Towne was credited as the film’s sole writer, Donald Stewart claimed he wrote the original draft that made the final film “what it is today,” according to the 9 May 1990 DV. Also, Warren Skaaren wrote seven drafts after Stewart’s, and writer Eric Hughes also contributed.
       According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, principal photography began 11 Dec 1989 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in NC. Other locations in the Charlotte area were “Harry Hogge’s” farm and “Tim Daland’s” car dealership. “Rowdy Burns’s” country house was filmed at the Island Point Club at Lake Wylie, NC. The production moved to Daytona Beach, FL, on 20 Jan 1990 for a month of filming, then on to Darlington, SC, to begin three weeks of filming on 26 Feb 1990. To properly film the high-speed races, filmmakers hired Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports to build five “picture cars” with special “crash boxes” for cameras in the front and rear. The cars also had to qualify for NASCAR events and be driven by NASCAR drivers, not Hollywood stunt drivers. On 4 Nov 1989, two of the Motorsports cars, driven by NASCAR drivers Greg Sacks and Bobby Hamilton, raced in the “Autoworks 500" at Phoenix International Raceway, and also participated in a staged one-hour race of actual NASCAR vehicles, “show cars,” and “back-up cars,” in which Tom Cruise was one of the drivers. Filming at the “Daytona 500” at the Daytona (FL) International Speedway occurred during the two-day qualifying trials, as well as at the 18 Feb 1990 race itself. Along with two picture cars, the director used a sixty-man crew with twenty-eight Panavision cameras. Both manned and unmanned cameras were placed at the turns, as well as in the grandstands, the infield, and the main judge’s tower. NASCAR granted Paramount Pictures permission to race its two cars for only the first one hundred miles (forty laps), in order to avoid influencing the outcome of the race. Other drivers were initially unhappy with “cars laden with heavy movie equipment tooling around an already crowded track,” the 8 Jul 1990 NYT reported. At the “Autoworks 500,” NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton forgot he was working for the film production and “roared into the lead” until Rick Hendrick told him to “back off.” Despite the expense of participating in NASCAR races, the final cut of Days of Thunder contained only two minutes of actual footage, mostly to get wide shots of the crowds. The production purchased sixty race cars for the film, but only two of them survived till the end. NASCAR drivers later enjoyed the movie and its attendant publicity, but said had there been as much “wall banging” in real life as there was in the film, their cars would not have finished the race.
       The American Humane Society pointed out in a 31 May 1990 letter to Paramount Pictures that a drag race between “Cole Trickle” and “Rowdy Burns” on the beach at Daytona Beach resulted in “an unfortunate accident.” In order to get a shot of sea gulls taking flight as the cars approached, the film crew scattered food on the sand to attract them, and two birds were killed. The society’s “cruelty investigator” called the crew “grossly negligent,” but determined that “the intent to commit the injury” was not deliberate.
       The 29 Jun 1990 National Sports Daily and 3 Jul 1990 HR noted that many of the film’s characters were almost certainly based on real people. Robert Duvall’s “Harry Hogge,” for example, was “virtually identical” to crew chief Harry Hyde, who was also hired as one of the film’s technical advisors. Tom Cruise’s “Cole Trickle” was considered by many to be based on Tom Richmond, who died in a crash similar to one Trickle survives and who left behind a physician girl friend. “Rowdy Burns” and “Russ Wheeler” were “likely based” on NASCAR racers Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace, respectively. The scene in which NASCAR chief “Big John” takes Trickle and Burns to dinner and threatens them with dismissal if they do not stop their bitter rivalry was reportedly based on a 1988 incident when NASCAR president Bill France, Jr. took Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine to dinner in Daytona Beach and dressed them down for trying to wreck each other.
       Budget estimates varied, but the 11 Jun 1990 People claimed Days of Thunder cost $55 million, of which “$9 million plus percentage” went to star Tom Cruise.
       The 2 Apr 1990 HR announced that because of production delays and last-minute changes, the opening day for Days of Thunder, scheduled for 23 May 1990, just before the Memorial Day weekend’s Indianapolis 500 racing event, had been extended to 8 Jun and then again to 27 Jun 1990. Producer Don Simpson told the 6 Jun 1990 DV that they had filmed new racing scenes the previous week in Orlando, FL: “We took a crew, put Cruise in a car—and shot it.” Then they put together a final edit. Simpson insisted the film would be ready for it national 27 Jun release date.
       Days of Thunder grossed $21.5 million during its first five days, the 2 Jul 1990 HR announced, but the box office numbers were dampened by a “glitch” in Paramount’s new Digital Cinema Sound system that forced several theaters to temporarily pull the film until they could switch over to 70mm Dolby Stereo prints.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1989
p. 1, 13.
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1990
p. 10.
Daily Variety
9 May 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 May 1990
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Jun 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1990
p. 1, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 1990
p. 10, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 1990
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1990
p. 3, 74.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 1990.
---
LAHExam
16 Mar 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1989
p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1989
p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1990
p. 1.
National Sports Daily
29 Jun 1990
p. 34.
New York Times
27 Jun 1990
p. 13.
New York Times
8 Jul 1990
p. 11, 26.
People Magazine
11 Jun 1990.
---
Variety
27 Jun 1990
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer Production
A Tony Scott Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Supv 1st asst photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst photog
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
2d asst photog
Still photog
Steadicam op
Hi-speed cam car
Video asst
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Chief rigging elec
Elec
ART DIRECTORS
Storyboard artist
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
Drapery
Prod painter
Const coord
General const foreperson
General const foreperson
Const foreman
Paint supv
Paint foreperson
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus scoring mixer
Mus orch and cond by
Addl orch by
Mus consultant for the album
Guitar performances of instrumental score by
Jeff Beck performs courtesy of
Instrumental score prod by
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom op
2d boom op
2d boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Supv A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Sd eff librarian
Sd eff rec and addl eff by
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Title des by
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Key makeup artist
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hair consultant
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod office coord
Race car driver and adv
NASCAR liaison
Loc mgr
Loc contact
Loc contact
Racing consultant
Casting asst
Prod admin Simpson/Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Simpson
Asst to Mr. Simpson
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Cruise
Asst to Mr. Cruise
Asst to Mr. Cruise
Asst to Mr. Scott
Asst to Mr. Scott
Asst to Mr. Duvall
Asst to Susan Becker
Asst prod coord
Computer specialist
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Voice casting
Race car coord
Picture car coord
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Driver capt
Driver capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Animal trainer
Animal handler
Catering
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
First aid
Video research
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Gimme Some Lovin'," by Steve Winwood, Muff Winwood & Spencer Davis, performed by Spencer Davis Group, courtesy of EMI Records (by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets) and Island Records
"Break Through The Barrier," by André Cymone & Gardner Cole, performed by Tina Turner, produced by André Cymone, Tina Turner courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Trail Of Broken Hearts," by Richie Sambora, Thomas J. Marolda & Bruce Foster, performed by Cher, produced by Richie Sambora, Cher courtesy of Geffen Records
+
SONGS
"Gimme Some Lovin'," by Steve Winwood, Muff Winwood & Spencer Davis, performed by Spencer Davis Group, courtesy of EMI Records (by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets) and Island Records
"Break Through The Barrier," by André Cymone & Gardner Cole, performed by Tina Turner, produced by André Cymone, Tina Turner courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Trail Of Broken Hearts," by Richie Sambora, Thomas J. Marolda & Bruce Foster, performed by Cher, produced by Richie Sambora, Cher courtesy of Geffen Records
"Hearts In Trouble," by Bill Champlin, Dennis Matkosky & Kevin Dukes, performed by Chicago, produced by Bill Champlin & Dennis Matkosky, Chicago courtesy of Reprise Records
"You Gotta Love Someone," by Elton John/Taupin, performed by Elton John, produced by Don Was, Elton John courtesy of MCA Records and Phonogram U.K. Limited
"Bye, Bye Love," by Boudleaux Bryant & Felice Bryant
"Thunderbox," written & produced by Miss Apollo Smile/The Groove Commander, performed by Apollo Smile, Apollo Smile courtesy of DGC
"Moon River," by Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer
"Deal For Life," by Martin Page/Taupin, performed by John Waite, produced by Martin Page & Ron Nevison, John Waite courtesy of Epic Records
"Show Me Heaven," by Jay Rifkin, Eric Rackin & Maria McKee, performed by Maria McKee, produced by Peter Asher, Maria McKee courtesy of Geffen Records
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door," by Bob Dylan, performed by Guns N' Roses, produced by Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses courtesy of Geffen Records
"The Last Note Of Freedom," by Hans Zimmer & Billy Idol, performed by David Coverdale, produced by Trevor Horn, David Coverdale courtesy of Geffen Records
"Long Live The Night," by Joan Jett, Randy Cantor & Michael Caruso, performed by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, produced by Kenny Laguna/Co-produced by Thom Panunzio, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts courtesy of Blackheart Records-Epic Associated Records/Chrysalis Records.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Riders of the Storm
Born to Run
Daytona
Release Date:
27 June 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 27 June 1990
New York opening: week of 27 June 1990
Production Date:
11 December 1989--1 April 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
16 July 1990
Copyright Number:
PA473953
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
107
Length(in feet):
9,667
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30194
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Car salesman Tim Daland, hoping to compete as a promoter in the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), hires Harry Hogge to build a car for a new driver. Though Harry was forced to retire after his previous driver, Buddy Bretherton, was killed in an accident, he agrees to return if Tim can patch things up with NASCAR. At a racetrack at Charlotte, North Carolina, Tim borrows a car from defending champion Rowdy Burns to let the newcomer, Cole Trickle, take test laps. Cole admits he has driven only in independent events, never in a NASCAR-sanctioned race, but since NASCAR requires a common standard for stock cars, he can pit his skills against other drivers, not their vehicles. Harry Hogge is skeptical of Cole’s ability, but relents. Cole drives around the track, reaches a speed that beats Rowdy Burns’s time, and convinces Harry to build a car for the following year’s “Daytona International Speedway 500,” the race in which Buddy Bretherton was killed. Harry builds a car from the frame up. During Cole’s first race, Rowdy Burns gives him a “rub,” a NASCAR term for bumping his rear end or brushing his sides in an attempt to knock him off the track. Over the next few weeks, Cole competes around the country, from Phoenix, Arizona, to Dover, Delaware, damaging the car and sometimes not finishing because he “blows the engine” or melts the tires. He and Harry argue constantly, even during races as Harry gives instructions through Cole’s headphones. In Darlington, South Carolina, Cole duels with Rowdy Burns and, with instructions from Harry, beats him on the last turn with a dangerous maneuver on the “outside,” the ... +


Car salesman Tim Daland, hoping to compete as a promoter in the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), hires Harry Hogge to build a car for a new driver. Though Harry was forced to retire after his previous driver, Buddy Bretherton, was killed in an accident, he agrees to return if Tim can patch things up with NASCAR. At a racetrack at Charlotte, North Carolina, Tim borrows a car from defending champion Rowdy Burns to let the newcomer, Cole Trickle, take test laps. Cole admits he has driven only in independent events, never in a NASCAR-sanctioned race, but since NASCAR requires a common standard for stock cars, he can pit his skills against other drivers, not their vehicles. Harry Hogge is skeptical of Cole’s ability, but relents. Cole drives around the track, reaches a speed that beats Rowdy Burns’s time, and convinces Harry to build a car for the following year’s “Daytona International Speedway 500,” the race in which Buddy Bretherton was killed. Harry builds a car from the frame up. During Cole’s first race, Rowdy Burns gives him a “rub,” a NASCAR term for bumping his rear end or brushing his sides in an attempt to knock him off the track. Over the next few weeks, Cole competes around the country, from Phoenix, Arizona, to Dover, Delaware, damaging the car and sometimes not finishing because he “blows the engine” or melts the tires. He and Harry argue constantly, even during races as Harry gives instructions through Cole’s headphones. In Darlington, South Carolina, Cole duels with Rowdy Burns and, with instructions from Harry, beats him on the last turn with a dangerous maneuver on the “outside,” the lane next to the wall, where accidents are more frequent, and where Buddy Bretherton was killed. Cole’s win attracts a corporate sponsor, a necessity because of high racing expenses. Cole tells Harry that he has a problem trusting people. He lost his last race car because of his father’s financial improprieties, and now Harry tricked him into making the dangerous outside maneuver by lying that the car had special tires designed for it. Harry apologizes, claiming he knew Cole could handle the maneuver. Driving to the next race, Cole, Harry, and the racing team are pulled over by what appears to be state troopers, but when a female officer fondles Cole, he realizes the arrest is a hoax and that Harry hired a prostitute. Later, during a duel between Cole and Rowdy at the Daytona Speedway Firecracker 400, Cole crashes into his rival and both men are rushed to Daytona Memorial Hospital. Cole is diagnosed with a concussion and a bruise on his brain. When he meets his attractive young neurologist, Dr. Claire Lewicki, Cole believes Harry has set him up with another prostitute and sexually propositions her. He apologizes after learning the truth, and Harry explains the joke to Claire so that she will not think badly of her patient. Cole asks her for a date, but she turns him down. The competitiveness between Cole and Rowdy is so strong that they race their wheelchairs through the hospital corridors. Though both are anxious to return to racing, Claire refuses to give them clearance until they heal, and NASCAR owner “Big John” concurs. Hoping to patch things up, Big John invites everyone to lunch and orders Cole and Rowdy to drive there together, but instead, Cole rents a second car and races Rowdy through town. By the time they arrive, both cars are damaged. Tim Daland hires another young driver, Russ Wheeler, to race until Cole recuperates. Cole sends Claire a roomful of flowers. She flies from Daytona to Charlotte to give him a neurological exam, which he passes. Afterward, they make love. Cole explains to Claire how a racer driving 200 miles an hour will get directly behind another car and use its “draft” to suck him along, which saves gas. Then, when he suddenly swerves out of the draft on a turn, the maneuver acts as a sling shot, sending him past the other car. He confesses that what attracts him to racing is being able to control something that is out of control. Cole and Claire visit Rowdy’s ranch and spend time with his family, but after Rowdy gets sick and falls down, Claire learns he has skipped his follow-up exams. Rowdy resists her order to return to Daytona Memorial Hospital. When Cole returns to racing in Atlanta, Georgia, he discovers that Russ Wheeler, his replacement during his convalescence, is trying to knock him off the track. Tim Daland tells Harry he decided to keep both drivers on his team, but he favors Russ. When Claire complains that Rowdy never showed up for his exam, Harry explains that racers fear death so much, they avoid hospitals and funerals. During the next event, Russ Wheeler knocks Cole off the track, but over Harry’s objections, Cole reenters the race and deliberately crashes into Russ, destroying both cars. Tim fires him and Harry Hogge. When Cole and Claire argue as he drives her to the airport, he becomes enraged and duels with a taxi driver. Disgusted, Claire jumps out of the car. Cole visits Rowdy at home, notices he has memory lapses, and offers to take him to the hospital, but Rowdy refuses. When Cole reports the news to Claire, she tells him Rowdy needs brain surgery and will never compete again. Rowdy asks Cole to race his car in Daytona and get a new sponsor, because he needs to win in the “top five” in order to pay his bills. When Cole asks Harry to prepare Rowdy’s car for Daytona, the older man at first turns him down, because Cole reminds him of Buddy Bretherton before he was killed, but eventually relents. When Claire visits before the race, she and Cole embrace and make up. Harry informs Cole that their car had a problem, but Tim Daland offered them a new engine. During the race, Cole takes the lead away from Russ Wheeler, but has to make a pit stop. Daland’s crew helps him get back on the track quickly. When Cole tailgates Russ to get into his slipstream, Russ expects him to pass on the outside, like he usually does. However, Cole goes left on the inside instead, shoots around Russ, and wins the race. Cole kisses Claire, then runs with Harry Hogge to the “victory lane.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.