How Much NASCAR and the World Have Changed Since ‘Days of Thunder’
This movie is so old, The King, Richard Petty, was not yet retired from stock car racing and is shown several times in racing scenes.
Randy Quaid was still landing dramatic roles as a serious actor in major films.
Pepsi stopped using that logo more than 25 years ago.
The film zoomed-in on several Confederate Flags, including a “The South Will Rise Again” flag. These were all seen in the first 90 seconds. No matter what your opinion is on the flag, we can all agree that this would not happen in a blockbuster film today.
Fred Thompson, who plays the head of NASCAR, was seen smoking in a nice restaurant.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman still liked each other. They would get married a year after this movie was filmed.
ESPN still covered NASCAR. There was even a Dr. Jerry Punch sighting, the long-time NASCAR pit reporter.
Sixteen years before John C. Reilly would star in another NASCAR movie, “Talladega Nights,” he was a member of Cole Trickle’s crew in “Days of Thunder.” It was the original “Shake and Bake.”
While Chevy is still a major player in NASCAR, it has been a while since the Lumina was a star in their lineup.
Same for the Ford Thunderbird.
A young Rusty Wallace made a cameo. In 1990, he was the reigning NASCAR champion.
It is strange to see pit crew members not wearing helmets or fire suits.
The drivers wore open-faced helmets without any safety devices, such as the HANS head restraint device which wouldn’t become mandatory in NASCAR for another 12 years.
Dirty faces were the norm.
The walls were just concrete. It would be years before NASCAR would start using safety walls made with foam.
In a sad bit of irony, one of the main characters is Harry Hogge, played by Robert Duvall. The character starts the movie in retirement due to his driver dying in a head-first crash into the wall at Daytona.