Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 American sports comedy film directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, while written by both McKay and Ferrell.[3] Additionally, the film features 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. make 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).

Talladega Nights:
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam McKay
Produced byJimmy Miller
Judd Apatow
Written byWill Ferrell
Adam McKay
StarringWill Ferrell
John C. Reilly
Sacha Baron Cohen
Gary Cole
Michael Clarke Duncan
Leslie Bibb
Jane Lynch
Amy Adams
Music byAlex Wurman
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byBrent White
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • August 4, 2006 (2006-08-04)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$72.5 million
Box office$163 million[2]


In North Carolina, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a man who grew up dreaming of going fast. Born in the backseat of a racing car on country roads while his father, Reese (Gary Cole), accidentally missed the turnoff for the hospital due to driving too fast, Ricky grew up not knowing his father, only seeing him once in 10 years where he was kicked out of Ricky's school for inappropriate behavior and told him his famous catchphrase “If you ain't first you're last.” which stuck with him until he was an adult, while working on the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux (Adam McKay), Ricky acts as a replacement driver after Terry decides to take a bathroom break while in last place. After finishing third in the race, Ricky gains fame and fortune at Dennit Racing. While racing, he meets his future wife Carley (Leslie Bibb), after she flashes her breasts.

Years after winning several championships, Ricky persuades Dennit Racing to field a second team for his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly). Ricky and Cal become an unstoppable duo on the track, but are soon introduced to their new teammate, openly gay French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). The Frenchman soon outperforms both Bobby and Naughton to become Dennit Racing's latest success story. Desperate to win, Ricky exceeds his limitations and crashes at Charlotte Motor Speedway (formerly Lowe's Motor Speedway in the film), resulting in Ricky thinking he's on fire and running around in his underwear and helmet. His declining performance subsequently gets him fired from his team; furthermore, Carley divorces him and leaves him for Cal, causing Ricky to fall into depression and falling out with Naughton, despite the latter still calling Ricky his best friend and frequently calling to do social activities.

Ricky moves in with his mom Lucy (Jane Lynch), and brings his two disobedient sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Tommy Robert aka "Texas Ranger" (Grayson Russell) with him while taking a job as a pizza delivery man. His luck worsens when he loses his driver's license after colliding with a woman pushing a shopping cart and hitting a police officer, reducing Bobby to riding the bus or a bicycle to deliver pizzas. Meanwhile, Lucy is determined to reform her two disrespectful grandsons.

With his life at rock bottom, Ricky's estranged father Reese returns to remind him how to drive, using unorthodox methods such as putting a live cougar in his car, and forcing him to escape the police. When his father leaves him again after causing trouble at an Applebees restaurant, Ricky's former assistant Susan (Amy Adams) persuades him to return to NASCAR, since it is in his nature to drive fast. They quickly develop a romantic relationship when Ricky takes Susan's advice and races at Talladega Superspeedway. Ricky makes amends with Carley, Girard, and Cal, while uniting with his pit crew chief and close friend Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan). With limited sponsors, Bobby's car is painted with a cougar to remind him of his passion. At the start of the race, Bobby flies from last place to pass all of the drivers except Girard. In the closing laps, Cal uses a slingshot technique for Ricky to pass Girard.

The replacement driver of Ricky's Wonder Bread car causes a massive wreck that takes out the field, except Bobby and Girard. On the final lap of the race, Ricky and Jean collide, wrecking their vehicles. Bobby and Girard exit their cars and begin running towards the finish line. Bobby reaches the line first, however both are disqualified for getting out of their cars. As Cal takes the checkered flag, Jean offers Ricky a handshake, but Bobby responds by kissing him on the lips. Carley asks Ricky to move back in with her and start over, but he chooses to stay with Susan instead. At the end of the event, Ricky is congratulated in the parking lot by Reese; Bobby declares that it was no longer about winning, knowing that he has a family who loves him no matter where he finishes. He, his family and Susan leave to go back to Applebees.

In a post credits scene, Grandma Lucy is shown reading a story to Walker and Tommy aka "Texas Ranger", both having fully been disciplined by her and 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.[4] 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, NASCAR agreed to provide assistance for the film's production[5]


Much of the film was shot in North Carolina, with one week of shooting occurring at Talladega Superspeedway. Many of the racing scenes were filmed at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, while scenes for the Bobby residence were filmed at a mansion near Lake Norman.[6][7]


Critical reception

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 71% based on 186 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 score of 66 out of 100, from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9]

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."[10] Automotive journalist Leo Parente said, "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me," while emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.[11]

Box office

The film grossed $148.2 million in the U.S. and Canada and $14.8 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $163 million.[12]

The film grossed $47 million in its first week, earning No. 1 film at the box office.($69.1 million), it is the second largest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell.


The former Supercars Championship team, Britek Motorsport, incorporated the Talladega Nights logo into the paint scheme for the 2006 Enduro Cup, appearing in three races, including the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000. The pit crew also wore suits that matched the ones Ricky's wears in the movie while the logo appeared on the car.

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".

Home media

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.[13]

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

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.[14]" 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."[15]

At the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Kurt Busch's unsponsored No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet 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. 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.[16]

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.[17]


  1. "TALLADEGA NIGHTS - THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (12A)". July 25, 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". August 4, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2018 via www.imdb.com.
  4. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)". Made in Atlantis. July 26, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  5. Dunne, Susan (July 30, 2006). "With film, NASCAR steers itself into Hollywood". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  6. Marusak, Joe (September 27, 2017). "Lake Norman mansion made Hollywood history. It can be yours". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  7. "Post-blockbuster Summer Movie Guide". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Rotten Tomatoes.com
  9. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Metacritic.com
  10. http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/talladega-nights-the-ballad-of-ricky-bobby, Totalfilm.com
  11. Jackie Stewart / 'Weekend Of A Champion' Film - Shakedown Trackdown
  12. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Box Office Mojo. April 26, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
  13. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Blu-ray". Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  14. Kris Durbin (April 26, 2009). "2009 Spring Talladega Final Lap - Edwards Crash". Retrieved February 10, 2018 via YouTube.
  15. "CNN LARRY KING LIVE - Aired April 28, 2009 -Joseph Ellis loved it, he giggled and wet his pants! 21:00 ET, CNN Transcripts". CNN.
  16. Pockrass, Bob (October 18, 2013). "Kurt Busch part pitchman, part showman with Wonder bread car". Sporting News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  17. 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.
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