Recall the roar of the engines with the Days of Thunder Trivia Quiz


By: Julie Medina

4 Min Quiz

Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

The checked flag, the pace car, the rubbing … remember how this sports action drama brought NASCAR racing to life, as well as the drivers who live on the edge with every lap. Recall it all - take this trivia quiz now.

What actor plays Cole Trickle, a young racer from Eagle Rock, California?

Cole Trickle, a young race car driver out to make a name for himself in NASCAR, is portrayed by Tom Cruise. The character was patterned after the late Tim Richmond and very loosely based on his life, while his name is a nod to veteran racer Dick Trickle. Tim Richmond was an American race car driver from Ashland, Ohio. He was one of the first drivers to change from open wheel racing to NASCAR stock cars full-time, which has since become an industry trend. He won the 1980 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award and had 13 victories during eight NASCAR seasons.


Who recruits Cole Trickle to race for his team in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series?

Cole Trickle is recruited by Chevrolet dealership tycoon Tim Daland to race for his team in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Tim Daland is a character patterned after Rick Hendrick. Rick Hendrick is widely considered to be the most successful team owner in NASCAR history.


Who does Daland convince to lead Cole’s pit crew?

Daland convinces former crew chief and car builder Harry Hogge to come out of retirement and lead Cole's pit crew. Harry Hogge is patterned after Rusty Wallace, considered one of racing's most well-known and charismatic personalities. He is a former NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and member of four of stock car racing's major halls of fame.


How does Hogge get convinced to build Cole Trickle a car?

After Trickle sets a fast time in a private test at Charlotte, Hogge builds him a new Chevrolet Lumina to drive in the Winston Cup, though the season has already started. Hogge is played by Robert Duvall, who has been nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning for his performance in Tender Mercies) and seven Golden Globes (winning four). He also has multiple nominations and one win each of the BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Emmy Award. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2005. He has starred in some of the most acclaimed and popular films and television series of all time.


What issues does Cole need to handle during the first few races?

The first couple of races are hard for Cole. He has trouble adjusting to the larger NASCAR stock cars. He hasn’t learned the jargon to communicate with his crew. And Rowdy Burns, the Winston Cup Champion, takes great pleasure in “rubbing” him on the track. The result is Cole not finishing the races, mostly due to crashes or blown engines. Although Cole thinks Burns is slamming into the back of his car, causing Cole to lose driving control, Hogge corrects him, “No, no, he didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you... he *rubbed* you. And rubbin, son, is racin'.”


What does Hogge do when he learns that Cole does not understand the jargon?

After discovering that Cole does not understand the common terminology used by NASCAR teams, Harry Hogge puts him through rigorous training. This pays off at the Darlington race, when Cole uses a slingshot maneuver from the outside line to overtake Rowdy and win his first race.


What tragedy happens at the Firecracker 400 in Daytona?

Cole and Rowdy's rivalry heightens with each race until tragedy strikes. At the Firecracker 400 in Daytona, both drivers are seriously injured after their cars are destroyed in a multi-car wreck. Cole Trickle is played by Tom Cruise, who has won Golden Globe Awards for his starring roles in Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Magnolia. Cruise won the Saturn Award for Best Actor for Vanilla Sky. He also won an AFI Movie of the Year Award for The Last Samurai and an Empire Award for Minority Report.


What injuries have Cole and Rowdy sustained?

Both Cole and Rowdy have sustained concussions. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly.


Who does Cole develop a romantic relationship with?

While recovering from his injuries in Daytona Beach, Cole develops a romantic relationship with Dr. Claire Lewicki, a neurosurgeon who was on duty when he was brought in after his crash. Dr. Claire Lewick is played by Nicole Kidman, who married Tom Cruise in 1990 and divorced in 2001. Kidman received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition to her 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress, Kidman has received Best Actress awards from the following: the Golden Globes, the Australian Film Institute, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Empire Awards, Golden Satellite Awards, Hollywood Film Festival, London Critics Circle, Russian Guild of Film Critics, and the Southeastern Film Critics Association, among other awards and accolades.


Once they are released from the hospital, why does the NASCAR president insist on Cole and Rowdy eating a meal together?

NASCAR president Big John brings Rowdy and Cole together in a meeting. He warns them that he and his sport will no longer tolerate any fooling around on the track from the two rivals. He insists the two have a meal together and bury the hatchet. This scene is based on an actual meeting Bill France, Sr., had in the 1980s between Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine.


How did Cole and Rowdy get to dinner?

Since neither one of them wanted the other to be the driver of the car, they decide to each rent a car and drive themselves to the restaurant. The scene where Cole and Rowdy destroyed a pair of rental cars by racing them through the city streets is loosely based on two early 1950s NASCAR superstars, Joe Weatherly and Curtis Turner. These two were known to rent cars, race, and crash them with abandon.


Why does Daland hire rookie Russ Wheeler?

As Cole is still undergoing therapy, Daland hires hot-shot rookie Russ Wheeler to take over his spot. Cary Elwes plays Russ Wheeler, a rookie driver who fills in for Cole, but then becomes his teammate and bitter rival. Cary Elwes is known for his roles in The Princess Bride; Glory; Robin Hood: Men in Tights; Bram Stoker's Dracula; Hot Shots!; Twister; The Jungle Book; Liar, Liar; and as Dr. Lawrence Gordon in Saw. He has also had recurring roles in television series, such as The X-Files and Psych. He currently stars in the Crackle series, The Art of More.


Why does Cole crash his car into Russ’s car after Russ wins the race?

At North Wilkesboro, Russ gets dirty on pit road and spins Cole out to win the race. In retaliation, Cole crashes his car into Russ's car following the race, resulting in Cole and Harry's team being fired by Daland. This scene was based on an actual event during the 1987 all-star race at Charlotte, NC, between drivers Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt.


What happened to the father of Cole's car chief?

The man who drove for Harry Hogge before Cole Trickle was called Buddy Bretherton. In the movie, they mention he died hitting the wall at Daytona. Harry also mentions that Buddy heard voices while driving. Buddy Bretherton is probably based on the Nascar driver Bobby Isaac, who drove for crew chief Harry Hyde. Issac claimed to have heard voices telling him to get out of the race car or he would die. So, he pulled the car off the track and quit. Isaac died years later from a heart attack while driving in a 1977 Late Model Sportsman race at Hickory Motor Speedway with 25 laps left.


What does Rowdy ask Cole to do?

When Rowdy discovers that he must undergo brain surgery to fix a broken blood vessel, he asks Cole to drive his car at the Daytona 500 so his sponsors will pay for the year. Cole reluctantly agrees and convinces Harry to be his crew chief again. Did you know the movie was conceived by Tom Cruise when he and Paul Newman had the opportunity to test one of Rick Hendrick's race cars? Tom's first lap was more than 180 mph.


Why is Harry reluctant to be Cole’s crew chief again?

Harry has already seen how fear took over his former racecar driver who has been in a traumatic crash. Also, he has been watching how Cole has destroyed an engine so he can get off the track. He doesn’t think Cole is ready to face his fear yet. Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall's characters are (very) loosely based on former driver, Tim Richmond, and his crew chief, Harry Hyde. Richmond was known as an overnight sensation and Hyde was the veteran crew chief. The scene where Duvall's character teaches Cruise about tire management is based on an actual incident between Hyde and Richmond, who died of AIDS complications the year before the film was released.


What two people are talking? “Hit the pace car.” “What for?” “Because you've hit every other goddamned thing out there, I want you to be perfect.”

The scene where Harry tells Cole to go out and hit the pace car is based on a real-life event with driver Buddy Baker and his crew chief at the time, Harry Hyde, who Harry Hogge is based on. Did you know Tom Cruise received a speeding ticket for doing 85 in a 55 mph zone while working on this movie?


What happens just hours prior to the climactic race?

Hours prior to the race, Harry discovers metal in the oil pan, which is a sign of engine failure. Getting a new engine and installing one in enough time for the race is nearly impossible, so he asks Daland to provide him a new engine. Learning about the new engine right before the race is unsettling but Cole begins the Daytona 500. Did you know that it was only after shooting was finished that the filmmakers discovered they had neglected to film Cole Trickle's car crossing the finish line at Daytona?!


During the race Cole’s car gets spun out by Russ. How did it impact the race car?

After being spun out by Russ, Cole's car suffers a malfunctioning transmission and Cole needs to make a pit stop. Fortunately, the combined efforts of his pit crew, as well as those working for Daland, are enough to fix the problem and get him back on the lead lap. Some footage for the movie was shot during the 1990 Daytona 500. Two additional cars, driven by Bobby Hamilton and Tommy Ellis, were added to the rear of the field for the express purpose of shooting them for this film. They were not officially scored and left the racetrack after 100 miles (40 laps) were completed.


How does Cole trick Russ and win the race?

Russ, having raced Cole numerous times, predicts Cole will use his signature slingshot move from the outside on the final lap. However, Cole tricks him with a crossover, overtaking him from the inside to win his first Daytona 500. What is wild is that production began without a finished script, which meant scenes were often written the day of filming. During one driving sequence, Tom Cruise actually had to read his lines off cue cards attached to his windshield, which resulted in a minor car accident. For subsequent driving sequences, Cruise was fitted with a special earpiece to have lines fed to him.


Does Claire stay and watch Cole race?

Cole drives into victory lane, where he and Claire kiss passionately while they celebrate with his pit crew. However, all was not happiness and light, prior to the race. Claire told Cole he couldn’t control a thing, control is an illusion, especially on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs. Reputedly, Tom Cruise handpicked Nicole Kidman to be his love interest in the film after seeing her performance in Dead Calm (1989).


How does the film end?

After winning and kissing Claire, Cole looks around to see where Harry is and spots him sitting alone on a concrete barrier. Cole walks up to Harry and tells him it is time to go to Victory Lane. Harry challenges Cole to a foot race. The film ends with a freeze frame of them racing to Victory Lane with big smiles on their faces.


Who is the NASCAR official talking to? NASCAR Official: “Hey! You can't do that, that's not your car.” "It's my engine in that car, I gave them that engine and that's what my boys are pushing."

At the final race at Daytona, Harry tells Cole they had to change engines. When asked where the engine came from, Harry said, "We stole it." However, he made it obvious it came from Tim Daland. This is based on an actual racing experience. In the final race at Atlanta in 1990, it was neck and neck between Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt. Martin didn't feel any of his cars were good enough, so Robert Yates allowed Martin to borrow one of Davey Allison's cars for a test run and the race. Robert Yates wanted a Ford to win the championship, so he did all in his power to help. Dale Earnhardt edged out Mark Martin by 26pts for the Winston Cup, Martin was docked 46pts at Richmond (2nd race of 90) because his carburetor spacer was a 1/2" too thick.


Who was Cole’s final sponsor?

The fictional Mello Yello sponsorship depicted on Trickle's car during film was followed by a real-life sponsorship arrangement the following year. The car of Kyle Petty at SABCO Racing carried the livery from 1991-1994. Mello Yello also sponsored the fall race at Charlotte from 1990-1994.


What action does Harry take after he hears Buck Brotherton say, “Well how 'bout that, a side we don't have to fix.”

Harry Hogge stays in the pit and kicks a dent into the undamaged door panel then says, “I don't want you spoiled, Buck.” John C. Reilly portrayed Buck Bretherton, Cole's car chief. Reilly also starred in Talladega Nights, another racecar driving movie. John C. Reilly is an actor, comedian, singer, screenwriter, and producer. He has performed in over fifty films, receiving an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award for the film Chicago. He received a Tony Award nomination for True West. Other achievements include a Grammy and Golden Globe Award for “Walk Hard,” the title song of the Dewey Cox Story.


Who says, “And Harry, I know you're great, you know you're great, but if the guy in the car doesn't trust you, we're never gonna win a damn race.”

Tim Daland says it to Harry, stressing that working on the relationship will help win races. Tom Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, was a salute to Dick Trickle. Trickle died May 16, 2013, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Big John notes that Cole and Rowdy are late for the meal. What made them late?

When Big John questions why Cole and Rowdy were late for the meal, they tell Big John they had car trouble, the radiator to be specific. However, they were racing rental cars and didn’t want to tell Big John because they were banned from racing until their concussed brains healed. The scene where Cole and Rowdy race rental cars on the beach shows birds scattering out of the way. The birds were lured onto the beach by birdseed, and in the first take most of them were run over.


What is Harry trying to do in this scene? Harry Hogge: "Because we have a really good set of matched tires on it." Tim Daland: "What?" Cole Trickle: "What?" Harry Hogge: "Those tires are matched perfect and staggered special."

Harry is trying to give Cole confidence to pass on the outside in turn four because he has seen what Cole can do, and although it is dangerous, he knows Cole can hold it. It works! After the race Cole found out Harry was lying. Did you know all cars used in the movie for the races had to pass inspection and qualify? Bobby Hamilton qualified one of the movie cars in the top ten; they removed the cameras and he was allowed to enter the race.


When Cole is just trying out Rowdy Burns' car on the race track for the first time, after a few laps he says, “I’m dropping the hammer!” What does that phrase mean?

The driver has the pedal to the metal or has "dropped the hammer" full throttle. It was a risky thing for Cole to do when he hadn’t fully adjusted to the track in just a few laps. City Chevrolet, a sponsor for Cole Trickle early in the movie, is a real-life Charlotte area dealership that is owned by Rick Hendrick, who prepared most of the cars in the movie.


When Claire asks, “Tell me what you love so much about racing” what does Cole generally conclude?

According to Cole, “Speed. To be able to control it. To know that I can control something that's out of control.” Tom Cruise loves to race cars, but NASCAR driver Greg Sacks did most of Tom Cruise's stunt driving. Cruise wanted to do his own stunt driving, but wasn't allowed to for insurance reasons. The Chevrolets were prepared by Rick Hendrick's racing team, which later used some of the movie cars in real races. Thirty-five cars were wrecked during filming!


Who says this? “You and Rowdy have the same sickness, it's called denial and it's probably going to kill you both.”

One has to be crazy to face death on every lap. Claire tells that to Cole, but Cole responds, “Claire, I'm more afraid of bein' nothing than I am of being hurt.” In order to give a more realistic atmosphere, professional racing broadcasters were brought in to play the broadcast reporters and track announcers. Key among these were members of ESPN's racing crew, including booth announcer Bob Jenkins and pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch.


What did the critics think of the film?

The film had mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie an aggregate rating of 38%, based on 58 reviews. The consensus of the site was, "Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren't enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue."


What did the fans think of the film?

The audience loved it. The film was a financial success. On a budget of $60 million it earned almost $158 million at the box office. The film was also successful on home video. It grossed $40 million in rentals. It is also one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite big-budget racing movies.


Days of Thunder didn’t end with the movie. How else could you enjoy the story?

A 1990 NASCAR racing simulation video game was loosely based on the 1990 movie, Days of Thunder. The game utilized elements from the movie, including graphical elements, plot, and music soundtrack. It was released for the PC, the NES, the Game Boy, and many other formats. A new version was created for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.


Which of these performers were featured on the soundtrack?

The film score to Days of Thunder was composed by Hans Zimmer and featured Jeff Beck on guitar. The album is notable for the inclusion of Guns N' Roses' cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." A year before, the song was released with a slightly different mix on the 1991 album: Use Your Illusion II. “Break Through the Barrier" is sung by Tina Turner and “Trail of Broken Hearts” is sung by Cher.


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