Ten Years Later, Talladega Nights Still Nails NASCAR's Uncomfortable Place In America

Screencap via Talladega Nights
Screencap via Talladega Nights

Some things may have changed since Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was released a decade ago, but it still has one of the most dead-on mockeries of the popular perception of motorsports in America. NASCAR—for better or for worse—has a sometimes-uncomfortable association with the Southern bro.

You love partying with him when he “pisses excellence” and rides around Daytona’s infield on a motorized cooler.

You begrudgingly accept his prosperity-gospel-lite notion that all of his outward displays of Christianity will bless him with success—although you wish he’d finally move beyond using “gay” as an insult.


You may cringe a bit at his open embrace of crass commercialism, but c’mon, all those corporations on his favorite driver’s car fund all that good racin’.

No scene quite nails everything that is a little uncomfortable about NASCAR’s association with the deep-fried, down-home Southern bro better than Talladega Nights’ family dinner scene:

I can’t think of a single more deep-South argument than one about the appropriateness of referring to the infant “Christmas Jesus” during grace.

Modern-day NASCAR tries pretty hard to push itself as a wide, accepting tent. They’ve even produced one of the more fun seasons to watch this year in terms of actual racing on the track.

But whenever you mention that NASCAR is occasionally enjoyable to someone who doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, there’s a good, annoying chance you’ll hear something back about inbreeding, a lack of education or a less inclusionary brand of social and/or political conservatism.


The most biting satire gets you to laugh at things that are supremely uncomfortable—like America’s relationship with its most popular form of motorsport.

Maybe what NASCAR needs is a real-life Jean Girard to shake (and bake) things up.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.

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Stephen R. Bierce

I haven’t even seen the whole thing and I want a sequel, now that Haas is involved with F1, with Ricky going to Europe and Jean as his teammate or crew chief riding herd on the campaign.