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).

The film opened on August 4, 2006, through Sony Pictures to critical and commercial success, grossing $163.4 million worldwide on a $72 million budget.


In North Carolina, Ricky Bobby 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, accidentally missed the turnoff for the hospital due to driving too fast, Bobby grew up not knowing his father, only seeing him once in 10 years where he was kicked out of Bobby's school for inappropriate behavior. Fifteen years later, while working on the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux, Bobby acts as a replacement driver after Terry decides to take a bathroom break while in last place. After finishing third in the race, Bobby gains fame and fortune at Dennit Racing. While racing, he meets his future wife Carley, after she flashes her breasts.

Years after becoming an NASCAR superstar, Bobby persuades Dennit Racing to field a second team for his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. Bobby and Naughton become an unstoppable duo on the track, but are soon introduced to their new teammate, openly gay French Formula One driver Jean Girard. Girard soon outperforms both Bobby and Naughton to become Dennit Racing's latest success story. Desperate to win, Bobby exceeds his limitations and crashes at Lowe's Motor Speedway. His declining performance subsequently gets him fired from his team; furthermore, Carley divorces him and leaves him for Naughton, causing Bobby to fall into depression and falling out with Naughton, despite the latter still calling Bobby his best friend and frequently calling to do social activities.

Bobby moves in with his mom Lucy, and brings his two disrespectful sons Walker and Texas Ranger 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 grandsons.

With his life hit rock bottom, Bobby'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, Bobby's former assistant Susan persuades him to return to NASCAR, since it is in his nature to drive fast. They quickly develop a romantic relationship when Bobby takes Susan's advice and races at Talladega Superspeedway. Bobby makes amends with Carley, Girard, and Naughton, while uniting with his pit crew chief and close friend Lucius Washington. 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, Naughton uses a slingshot technique for Bobby to pass Girard.

In the closing laps of the race, the replacement driver of Bobby's former Wonder Bread car causes a massive wreck that takes out the field, except Bobby and Girard. On the final lap, Bobby and Girard collide, wrecking their cars. 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 Naughton takes the checkered flag, Girard offers Bobby a handshake, but Bobby responds by kissing him on the lips. Carley asks Bobby to move back in with her and start over, but he chooses to stay with Susan instead. At the end of the event, Bobby 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 Texas Ranger, both having fully been disciplined by her and are now presented as polite, respectful children.




McKay and Ferrell first discussed a comedic 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 studios using only a six-word pitch: "Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver". Studios, responded enthusiastically to the pitch largely due to the recent commercial success of Ferrell as a comedic leading man in films like Elf, Old School and Anchorman. After a bidding war by studios, the rights to the film were won by Sony Pictures. McKay and Ferrell knew that in order to create the film in the way in which they desired, they would need cooperation from NASCAR. Following a meeting with NASCAR executives, NASCAR agreed to provide assistance for the film's production.[4] While writing the script, McKay and Ferrell sought to make a film that individuals involved with NASCAR would enjoy, much how people in the television news industry did with the pairs previous film Anchorman, with Ferrell stating "We were real adamant up front that our goal wasn't to make fun of NASCAR. We wanted to have fun with NASCAR." Despite NASCARS involvement with the film, many teams and drivers were reluctant to participate in the film largely due to the negative feelings those in the sport had for the 1990 film Days of Thunder, with drivers fearing the movie would be similar to Thunder. The only two drivers who did end up making cameos in the film were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray.[5] During development, the films title changed from Talladega Nights to "High, Wide and Handsome" before eventually reverting back to the original title.[6]


With the exception of one week of shooting at Talladega Superspeedway, the entire film was filmed in North Carolina. Many of the racing scenes were filmed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina and Rockingham Speedway also known as The Rock. Various other scenes were filmed in the Gaston County, North Carolina area, including the Pizza Delivery, DMV Driving Test, and Church Choir scenes. The Pizza Delivery sequence began in Downtown Cramerton, North Carolina and concluded at the Midtown Motor Inn in Gastonia, North Carolina. Both the DMV Driving Test and the Church Choir scenes were filmed on the campus of First Baptist Church in Cramerton, North Carolina. Scenes at The Pit Stop, the bar the characters frequent and Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard first meet were filmed in a recently closed sports bar in Charlotte. [7] The scenes for the Bobby residence were filmed at a mansion near Lake Norman.[8][9]

McKay was adamant about wanting to incorporate stunts in the movie, and even had Ferrell and Reilly take driving classes at the Richard Petty Driving Experience with Ferrell later stating that he was "terrified" while driving the cars. 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.[10][11]


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

Box office

The film grossed US$47 million in its first week, and was the No. 1 film at the box office, making it at the time, the largest opening weekend of Ferrell's career, before being passed by 2014's The Lego Movie. 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 making it Ferrell's fourth highest grossing film behind The Lego Movie, Elf and Anchorman 2 and McKay's highest grossing film behind Anchorman 2 and The Other Guys. [1]

Critical response

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."[12] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A+ to F.[14]

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."[15] 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."[16] 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."[17] 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."[18] Automotive journalist Leo Parente said, "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me," while emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.[19]

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan cited the film as a personal favorite of his, calling it "great".[20]


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.[21]

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".


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Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipients Results Ref.
Teen Choice Awards August 20, 2006 Choice Summer Movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Won [22]
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards March 2007 Worst Movie Title Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Won [23]
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 [24]
Teen Choice Awards August 26, 2007 Choice Comedy Movie Actor Will Ferrell Won [25]

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.[26]

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.[27]" Although Edwards did cross the finish line but on his feet, he was still handed a DNF since his car did not cross the line and Edwards finished in 24th. 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."[28]

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.,[29] 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.[30]

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.[31]


  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". Lowe's Motor Speedway
    August 4, 2006 (United States)
    . June 9, 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. ^ "'Talladega Nights' at 10: An oral history". August 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "NASCAR tosses crew chief out for violations".
  7. ^ "Emanuel Levy Cinema 24/7". Retrieved April 11, 2022.
  8. ^ Marusak, Joe (September 27, 2017). "Lake Norman mansion made Hollywood history. It can be yours". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  9. ^ "Post-blockbuster Summer Movie Guide". HowStuffWorks. July 10, 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  10. ^ "Jayski's NASCAR Silly Season Site: NASCAR/Racing Movies". Jayski's NASCAR Silly Season Site. September 29, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  11. ^ "'Talladega Nights' at 10: An oral history". August 4, 2016.
  12. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  13. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Metacritic. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  14. ^ "TALLADEGA NIGHTS: BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (2006) B". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  15. ^ Koehler, Robert (July 31, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Variety. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  16. ^ Owen Gleiberman (August 2, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Entertainment Weekly.
  17. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". The Hollywood Reporter. August 11, 2006. Archived from the original on August 11, 2006.
  18. ^ Total Film (September 15, 2006). "Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby review". gamesradar. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  19. ^ Jackie Stewart / 'Weekend Of A Champion' Film - Shakedown Trackdown (Region Blocked by NBC)
  20. ^ Christopher Nolan on his favourite Comedy Movie. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via Youtube.com.
  21. ^ "Five of the best movie themed Supercars". V8 Supercars. August 15, 2017.
  22. ^ "Teen Choice Awards (2006)". IMDb. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  23. ^ "Stinkers Bad Movie Awards - 2006 Ballot". The Stinkers. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  24. ^ Will Ferrell & Sacha Baron Cohen Win The 2007 Best Kiss Award - | MTV, June 3, 2007, retrieved April 29, 2022
  25. ^ "Teen Choice Awards (2007)". IMDb. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  26. ^ "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Blu-ray". Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  27. ^ Kris Durbin (April 26, 2009). "2009 Spring Talladega Final Lap - Edwards Crash". Retrieved February 10, 2018 – via YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  28. ^ "CNN LARRY KING LIVE - Aired April 28, 2009 -Joseph Ellis loved it, he giggled and wet his pants! 21:00 ET, CNN Transcripts". CNN.
  29. ^ Pockrass, Bob (October 18, 2013). "Kurt Busch part pitchman, part showman with Wonder bread car". Sporting News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Albert, Zach (July 11, 2021). "'Shake and bake!' Ganassi teamwork, Chastain assist foil Kyle Busch's Atlanta bid". Nascar.com. Retrieved July 13, 2021.