Aaron Widmar
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8 Best Film Scores to Inspire Your Inner Racer

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Epic driving music suggestions for the film junkie in all of us

Charlize Theron in The Italian Job movie 2003

Listen to this great movie music when you’re behind the wheel!
Photo: Paramount Pictures 

No matter what you’re doing, life is better with a soundtrack. It adds excitement, emotion, drama, and an epic quality to those mundane daily tasks. That certainly applies to driving, whether navigating traffic during your commute or traversing empty country roads. What better way to make you feel as if you’re driving in a movie than by listening to music from movies?

To amp up your driving soundtrack and get your adrenaline pumping behind the wheel, here are eight great albums featuring background music from car-related movies. Mind you, we’re excluding lyrical compositions inspired by or written for song compilation albums.

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8 Movies with Epic Driving Music Soundtracks

The Italian Job (2003)

Much of John Powell’s soundtrack for the F. Gary Gray remake spends most of its running time in a slow, methodical build of calculated percussion and electronic tones, but when the strings kick in, your mph is bound to increase–regardless if you’re driving a Mini Cooper. Plus, that electric guitar perfectly enhances the tonal aggression.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Back in the heyday of the 1990s macho-action flick, Trevor Rabin created most of the great music to underscore Bruckheimer’s box-office beasts, one of them being this ridiculous heist flick. Seeped in synth that weaves between ethereal vocals and heavy electronic metal riffs, this accompanying music changes in tone as sporadically as Nicholas Cage’s hair.

The Fast and The Furious (2001)

While most fans will assert that the heavy, thumping beats of Brian Tyler’s Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift is the best score in the series, I’ve always been partial to the looping, melodic trance by BT in the very first installment. It may not reach the cinematic heights of later scores, but its softer notes are uncommon in the rest of the series’ music. Plus, it still gets your street racing blood pumping at all the right times.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the latest Mad Max did everything right–including the music. Junkie XL’s manic cacophony of incessant string loops and drum crescendos captures the onslaught of the senses the movie thrives on. Any day is a lovely day to release your wild side with this soundtrack.

Bullitt (1968)

Renowned composer Lalo Schifrin–known for creating the Mission: Impossible theme–took a jazzy approach to this police drama that creates an altogether different type of driving mood. Unflappably classy with a suspenseful edge, the twitchy percussion still holds up to this date. You’ll feel as cool as Steve McQueen, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a classic car.

Days of Thunder (1990)

It may not have aged well, but Hans Zimmer’s score for the stock car racing classic featuring Tom Cruise is seeped in 1980s cheese and all its glory. But then again, so is the entire movie. The heavy presence of synth–from the keyboards to the bass–might not appeal to everyone, but for a certain few, there’s no better music to drive to.

Turbo (2013)

While Randy Newman’s music for Disney-Pixar’s Cars may have a pleasant, “down home” feel to it, it doesn’t capture the thrill of racing as much as Henry Jackman’s score for this high-speed Dreamworks production. It’s a fast, furious blend of electronics, strings, and brass–with dramatic pauses at just the right moments.

Back to the Future (1985)

Alan Silvestri’s iconic theme speaks for itself. Woven throughout the classic film’s entire soundtrack, the unforgettable orchestral tune kicks in with pure triumph at just the right moments. Be honest, who hasn’t sped up to 88 mph by the end of that cue?

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  • Aaron WidmarSenior Editor

    Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.