Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

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Talladega Nights:
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Talladega nights.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam McKay
Written byWill Ferrell
Adam McKay
Produced byJimmy Miller
Judd Apatow
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byBrent White
Music byAlex Wurman
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • August 4, 2006 (2006-08-04)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$72.5 million[1]
Box office$163.4 million[1]

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 American sports comedy film directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, written by both McKay and Ferrell.[2] Other actors include John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, and Amy Adams, and appearances by Saturday Night Live alumni. NASCAR drivers Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have cameos, as do broadcasting teams from NASCAR on Fox (Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip) and NASCAR on NBC (Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Benny Parsons).


In West River, North Carolina, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a man who dreams of going fast. The origin of him wanting to go fast was when he was born in the backseat of a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle on country roads when his father, Reese (Gary Cole), accidentally missed the turnoff for the hospital due to driving too fast. Ricky grows up not knowing Reese, only seeing him once in ten years when he was kicked out of Ricky's school for inappropriate behavior during career day. Before leaving, Reese tells Ricky that in life, “If you ain't first, you're last.” The phrase sticks with him into adulthood, during which he works on the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux (Adam McKay) for Laughing Clown Malt Liquor. At the Talladega Superspeedway when a caution flag came out, Ricky acts as a replacement driver after Terry decides to take a bathroom break, order a chicken sandwich, and make a phone call while in last place. After finishing third in the race, Ricky continues to race in NASCAR and gains fame and fortune by winning many races with his Laughing Clown sponsor being changed to Wonder Bread and Powerade. Later, the owner of Dennit Racing, Larry Dennit Sr (Pat Hingle), announces they will field a second car with Ricky's best friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly) as the driver for Old Spice. Ricky and Cal become an unstoppable duo on the track, at their first race as teammates, Ricky meets his future wife Carley (Leslie Bibb), after she flashes her breasts.

More years later, Ricky now lives in a large mansion with Carley, her father Chip (Ted Manson), and Ricky's two incredibly disrespectful and trash-talking sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell). After a race at Texas Motor Speedway that Ricky wins by driving in reverse and beating Jamie McMurray while also flipping him off (it cost him 100 championship points, as pointed out by Larry Dennit Jr. (Greg Germann), the new team owner), Ricky and Cal are in a bar where they are introduced to their new teammate, openly gay French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), for the Perrier french mineral water whom Dennit hired to win a championship as Ricky is too concerned with individual races and also breaks Ricky's arm when he refuses to say "I love crepes". At the Lowe's Motor Speedway, Jean outperforms both Ricky and Cal, with Cal blowing his engine, and Ricky exceeding his limitations, causing him to crash and roll during the race, traumatizing himself into thinking he is on fire and then runs around in his underwear and helmet. After Ricky recovers from catatonic shock and psychosomatic paralysis (he stabs himself in the leg after believing he was paralyzed but then realizes he was not), he discovers that Jean has won many races, becoming Dennit Racing's latest success story. When Ricky's declining performance becomes apparent at Rockingham Speedway during testing (he maxed out at 26 miles an hour), Dennit subsequently fires him from the team as a result, and convinces Carley to divorce Ricky and leave him for Cal, who has been promised to be put in the spotlight, causing Ricky to fall into depression and dislike for Cal, despite the latter still calling Ricky his best friend, frequently asking to do social activities with him, including attending his wedding.

Ricky moves in with his mother Lucy (Jane Lynch), and brings his sons with him while taking a job as a pizza delivery man. Ricky then loses his driver's license after hitting a shopping cart pushed by a woman and then a police officer who wrote him a ticket for the former, reducing Ricky to riding a child-sized bicycle to deliver pizzas. After unwittingly delivering pizzas to Reese, Lucy reveals that she called him in order to help Ricky be brave enough to drive again. Ricky reluctantly agrees to let Reese show him how to drive again, who then uses unorthodox methods such as forcing Ricky to drive with a live cougar in his car (which results in him getting attacked by the cougar), driving down his street while blindfolded, and taping cocaine (Lucky Charms) to the underside of the Chevelle, forcing him to outrun the police. Meanwhile, Lucy is determined to reform both Walker and Texas Ranger.

Ricky eventually regains his courage, and his life begins to stabilize after quitting his job at the pizza parlor and getting a new driver's license. When the family has dinner at an Applebee's restaurant to celebrate Ricky's courage returning, and Walker and Texas Ranger both being fully disciplined by Lucy, Reese suddenly causes trouble and is kicked out so that he has an excuse to leave his son again, claiming that he himself is no good. Ricky then tells him that he won the races for him, living his life based on what Reese told him as a child at his school. Reese reveals that he was actually on drugs when he told Ricky what he said, and admits that he what he said does not make sense, despite Ricky following the quote his whole life, and then leaves. Ricky starts to lose faith in himself once again then meets his former assistant Susan (Amy Adams) at a bar who has gotten a marketing job at NASCAR following Ricky's firing. When Ricky tells her that he is officially done with racing and has decided to become a drug dealer, Susan persuades him to return to NASCAR, since it is what he likes to do. They quickly develop romantic feelings, and Ricky decides to take Susan's advice and race at Talladega Superspeedway. Ricky calls his pit crew, who were working at a car wash, to rejoin him, and then meets with Jean before the day of the race. Jean informs Ricky that he joined NASCAR to be beaten by a driver who is truly better than him so that he can retire, and suspects that Ricky may be the one to do so, however Jean will not purposely lose.

On race day at Talladega, Ricky reunites with his pit crew, including crew chief and close friend Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan). With limited sponsors, Ricky's new car is painted by Susan with a cougar to remind him of his passion and the word "ME" in place of large sponsors. He sees Cal before the race, and apologizes to him for previously taking him for granted as a friend and making him only finish second, but this only makes Cal confused. Meanwhile, Dennit has a meeting with other owners that will result in him owning half the teams in NASCAR. Throughout the race, Ricky is able to climb from last place to pass almost all of the other drivers. In the closing laps, Dennit, fearing Ricky winning would hurt his chances at owning more teams, orders Cal to take Ricky out of the race with the threat of firing him. Cal however decides to help Ricky, and uses a slingshot technique to help him contend with Jean for the win.

Then, Brian Wavecrest, the replacement driver of Ricky's Wonder Bread and Powerade car hits Cal, causing The Big One, which takes out the whole field, except for Ricky and Jean thanks to Dennit, telling his crew chief to take out Cal when he refused to listen to Dennit. Ricky and Jean begin the final laps of the race side by side with neither one having an advantage, then on the final lap, Ricky and Jean collide, doing barrel rolls, causing what the commentators described as "the longest-lasting crash in the history of the track", destroying their vehicles. Then the two exit their cars and run towards the finish line on foot. Ricky's hand crosses the line first, finally defeating Jean. Jean thanks Ricky for beating him, as it allows him to retire, and offers Ricky a handshake, but Ricky tells Jean he would never shake his hand, and kisses him on the lips instead. At the victory lane, it is explained that Ricky and Jean were both disqualified for leaving their cars, and Cal, who was in third place when the crash occurred, is awarded his first-ever win. Ricky and Cal reconcile further, with Cal apologizing about Carley, solidifying their friendship again. Carley comes to Ricky at victory lane and asks him to come back to her and start all over again, but Ricky wants to stay with Susan. While Ricky and his family along with Susan are leaving the event, Ricky is congratulated in the parking lot by Reese; Ricky declares that it was no longer about winning for someone, and he knew that he has a family who loves him no matter what happened. When Reese notes that things are becoming too perfect again, Ricky suggests the family goes to an Applebee's to get thrown out, which everyone happily agrees to.

In a post-credits scene, Lucy is shown reading a story to Walker and Texas Ranger; both are now presented as polite, respectful children.




McKay and Ferrell first discussed a film about a NASCAR driver while Ferrell was filming Elf. Shortly after filming of that film had completed, co-producer Jimmy Miller invited the two to a NASCAR race in Fontana, California, after which the two began initial writing of the film.[3] The two presented the idea to Sony using only a six-word pitch: "Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver". After the proposal was picked up by Sony Pictures, NASCAR agreed to provide assistance for the film's production[4]


Much of the film was shot in North Carolina, with one week of shooting occurring at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2 2005. Many of the racing scenes were May 29 2005 filmed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina and Rockingham Speedway also known as The Rock, while scenes for the Bobby residence were filmed at a mansion near Lake Norman.[5][6] The film was tentatively titled High, Wide and Handsome.

Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track Enterprises and K4 Motorsports combined to provide race cars, hauler transportation and stunt coordination. Previously, the companies had assisted in promotion for Herbie: Fully Loaded, 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, and other stock car racing films. Within Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, K4 Motorsports created custom wrapping for specific race cars, notably Bobby's "ME" car.[7]


Ferrell at the premiere of Talladega Nights, September 12, 2006.

Box office[edit]

The film grossed US$47 million in its first week, and was the No. 1 film at the box office, which is the second largest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell behind Ferrell's Elf which grossed $173 million. The film grossed $148.2 million in the US and Canada, and $15.1 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $163 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 71% based on 188 reviews, with an average rating of 6.51/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights' mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner's circle."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A+ to F.[10]

Robert Koehler of Variety wrote: "Simultaneously teasing and loving a subject doesn't make for easy comedy, but writer-star Will Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay pull it off with good-ol'-boy good nature in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." Koehler was surprised by the racing aspects of the film, and praised McKay's direction and Oliver Wood cinematography, saying "he gets the grit, heat and feel of NASCAR racetracks with a near-documentary sensibility."[11] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly found the film increasingly uneven as it progressed but praised the racing sequences: "The races are scorchingly shot, and they lend the movie a zest that was missing from Anchorman."[12] Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "From its pitch-perfect title through just about every detail, this sendup of sports-triumph movies maintains the right parodic pitch, if not always the highest mph on the laugh speedometer."[13] British magazine Total Film gave it a perfect five-star rating, with the following verdict: "Forget the recent blips; Ferrell is back in freewheeling form. More than just the year's funniest film, Talladega Nights is one of the best films of the year."[14] Automotive journalist Leo Parente said, "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me," while emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.[15]

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan cited the film as a personal favorite of his, calling it "great".[16]


V8 Supercars team Britek Motorsport incorporated the Talladega Nights logo into the paint scheme of their Ford Falcon BAs for the 2006 Sandown 500 and the 2006 Bathurst 1000.[17]

The Supercars also featured Talladega Nights in a Drive-In Night event at Skyline Blacktown on August 2, 2018, to promote the upcoming race at Sydney Motorsport Park that weekend.

Both Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly appeared at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards in June of that year, in character, to promote the film. The two presented the award for "Best Comedic Performance".


Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipients Results Ref.
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards March 2007 Worst Movie Title Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Won [18]
The Spencer Breslin Award (for Worst Performance by a Child in a Feature Role) Grayson Russell Nominated
Houston Tumlin Nominated
Most Annoying Fake Accent (Male) Sacha Baron Cohen Won
Will Ferrell Nominated
MTV Movie Awards June 3, 2007 Best Kiss Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen Won
Teen Choice Awards August 26, 2007 Choice Comedy Movie Actor Will Ferrell Won

Home media [edit]

The Blu-ray version was released on November 17, 2006. Standard DVD and PSP UMD were released on December 12, 2006. When viewing, the opening menu gives viewers choices for Super Speedway (with footage of the film used as introductions for special features, scene selection, etc.) or Short Track (without video introductions). The film is presented on standard DVD in four different configurations, giving consumers the choice between either theatrical or unrated versions and anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1 aspect ratio) or pan and scan presentations. As for the audio, each standard DVD carries Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French with optional English and French subtitles.[19]

Extras for the standard DVD editions include a retrospective "25 Years Later" commentary track featuring most of the main cast, deleted and extended scenes along with bonus race footage, features, interviews with Bobby, Naughton, and Carley, a gag reel, a 'line-o-rama' feature with alternate dialogue from the film, and DVD-ROM content. The unrated disc contains additional deleted scenes ("Cal Calls Ricky" and "What'd You Do Today?"), an interview with Girard and Gregory, and commercials. The "Unrated & Uncut" DVD omits two scenes that were in theaters: Bobby, as a child, steals his mother's station wagon and the happenings of Bobby's pit crew. The scenes are not present in the deleted scenes either.

The Blu-ray release is available on a dual-layer disc with the majority of features presented in high definition. These include: nine deleted/extended scenes, three interviews, gag reel, line-o-rama, bonus race footage, Bobby & Naughton's Commercials, Bobby & Naughton's public service announcements, Walker & Texas Ranger, Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega and a theatrical trailer. Three non-high definition extras include: Daytona 500 Spot, NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup Spot, and Sirius and NASCAR Spot. In terms of technical aspects, this edition carries the unrated cut and presents the film with a widescreen transfer at its 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio and includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French and an uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio track in English, along with English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean and Thai subtitles.

The first one million 60GB and 20GB PlayStation 3 units included a free Blu-ray copy of the film.

In October 2016, the film was re-released on Blu-Ray to coincide with its 10th anniversary. The 2-disc set includes all new bonus features, as well as both versions of the film, marking the theatrical version's first time on Blu-Ray disc.

Real-world homage[edit]

On the final lap of the 2009 Aaron's 499 (one of two Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway), Carl Edwards crashed after Brad Keselowski made contact with his car on the final lap. His car turned backwards, went airborne, bounced off and crushed Ryan Newman's hood, flew into the catch fence, and came to a stop on the track apron. At this point, his car was just beyond the pit-road exit, as Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line. Edwards climbed out of his car and jogged to the finish line. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. Fox play-by-play commentator Mike Joy commented on how it was "shades of Ricky Bobby.[20]" Edwards was later asked about this on Larry King Live; he responded, "I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of Talladega Nights."[21]

At the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Kurt Busch's unsponsored No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Impala used Ricky Bobby's "ME" paint scheme. Busch and his team were heard reciting movie lines over the team radio. He was running up front when contact from behind sent him spinning, he went on to finish 20th. In October 2013, Busch's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet was sponsored by Wonder Bread for the fall race at Talladega. Its paint scheme was based on Ricky's original No. 26.[22], he finished 18th in this race.

During qualifying at the 2013 United States Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel and his race engineer Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin made reference to the movie over team radio when Vettel posted the fastest lap and gained pole position. The pair referenced the movie in saying "shake and bake" over the team radio, the same phrase used by Bobby and Naughton.[23]

During his victory lap and postrace interview following the 2021 Quaker State 400, driver Kurt Busch exclaimed "Shake and Bake!" in reference to his teammate Ross Chastain, who assisted Busch in holding off his brother Kyle Busch for the victory.[24]


  1. ^ a b c "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Box Office Mojo. April 26, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Martin". August 4, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2018 – via www.imdb.com.
  3. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)". Made in Atlantis. July 26, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Dunne, Susan (July 30, 2006). "With film, NASCAR steers itself into Hollywood". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  5. ^ Marusak, Joe (September 27, 2017). "Lake Norman mansion made Hollywood history. It can be yours". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "Post-blockbuster Summer Movie Guide". HowStuffWorks. July 10, 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  7. ^ "Jayski's NASCAR Silly Season Site: NASCAR/Racing Movies". Jayski's NASCAR Silly Season Site. September 29, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Metacritic. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  10. ^ "TALLADEGA NIGHTS: BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (2006) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Koehler, Robert (July 31, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Variety. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  12. ^ Owen Gleiberman (August 2, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Entertainment Weekly.
  13. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". The Hollywood Reporter. August 11, 2006. Archived from the original on August 11, 2006.
  14. ^ Total Film (September 15, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby review". gamesradar. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  15. ^ Jackie Stewart / 'Weekend Of A Champion' Film - Shakedown Trackdown (Region Blocked by NBC)
  16. ^ Christopher Nolan on his favourite Comedy Movie. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via Youtube.com.
  17. ^ "Five of the best movie themed Supercars". V8 Supercars. August 15, 2017.
  18. ^ "Stinkers Bad Movie Awards - 2006 Ballot". The Stinkers. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  19. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Blu-ray". Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Kris Durbin (April 26, 2009). "2009 Spring Talladega Final Lap - Edwards Crash". Retrieved February 10, 2018 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "CNN LARRY KING LIVE - Aired April 28, 2009 -Joseph Ellis loved it, he giggled and wet his pants! 21:00 ET, CNN Transcripts". CNN.
  22. ^ Pockrass, Bob (October 18, 2013). "Kurt Busch part pitchman, part showman with Wonder bread car". Sporting News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  23. ^ Cork Gaines (November 16, 2013). "VIDEO: Sebastian Vettel Says 'Shake And Bake!' After Winning The Pole At the US Grand Prix - Business Insider". Business Insider.
  24. ^ Albert, Zach (July 11, 2021). "'Shake and bake!' Ganassi teamwork, Chastain assist foil Kyle Busch's Atlanta bid". Nascar.com. Retrieved July 13, 2021.

External links[edit]