That scene came was inspired by an ongoing feud between Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine
Days of Thunder is full of famous scenes from beginning to end. The film stars Tom Cruise and was released in 1990.
In the year of release it was the 106th largest movie of all time. To this day, it remains the 930th largest movie from a dollar figure, without adjusted revenue.
The film had many close ties to real world racing scenes. Many of those stories were collected from Rick Hendrick by the screenwriters. Hendrick worked closely with the film, to the point of supplying the movie cars.
In the film, Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) and Michael Rooker (Rowdy Burns) had tangled multiple times on the race track. It led to a meeting with the head of NASCAR.
Days of Thunder
Rental Car Scene
In the Days of Thunder film, Big John [Bill France] stated: “If you two wanna turn yourselves into a greasy spot on a country road somewhere, go right ahead. I don’t give a shit and I don’t think anybody else does, regardless what they say to your face. But you two monkeys are not going to do it on my racetrack.”
“Now y’all heard of a “Japanese Inspection? You see, when the Japs get in a load of lettuce they’re not sure they wanna let in the country, why they’ll just let it sit there on the dock ’til they get good and ready to look at. But then of course, it’s all gone rotten… ain’t nothing left to inspect.”
“You see, lettuce is a perishable item… like you two monkeys. You trade paint one more time, you so much as touch, I’m gonna Black Flag the two of you, and take apart your racecars for three-hundred laps. Then, if you pass inspection and you put your cars back together, I might let you back into the race.”
“Now, just to show there’s no hard feelings we’re all gonna go out to dinner together.”
The two characters also took rental cars to a dinner meeting with Big John. They were going to mend fences. On the way to the dinner, they took to racing and beating up the rental cars on their way there.
Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine
Dinner with Bill France
That scene was spawned from a real life NASCAR story. It didn’t quite play out the way it did in the film but it was inspired by this very similar story…
Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine spent a few years beating the bumpers off their race cars. Big fines from NASCAR couldn’t bring it to a stop.
Bill France, the head of NASCAR, invited Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt to headquarters in Daytona.
“We were having a meeting and it was a short meeting,” Rick Hendrick explained on the Dale Jr Download.
Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt all sat down in the office of Bill France.
“He said, ‘I got videos here and we can look at tapes. But, you two monkeys are not going to [fuck up] my show.’ “
“He said, ‘So here’s the deal.’ He looked around the team and said, ‘Rick, you can go back to selling cars. Richard, I don’t know, you can go back to doing whatever.’ “
“He told Geoff he could go back up north. He told Earnhardt, I don’t know what you’d do to make a living. But, if y’all are going to be in this sport then this is what’s gonna happen. Now, we’re going to go eat.”
Dale Earnhardt said, “I can’t. I got plans.”
Bill France pointed to the wall and said, “There’s a phone, change your plans.”
That’s almost a direct quote from Days of Thunder.
“He said, ‘You and Richard ride together with me. And Geoff, you and Dale ride together.’ “
“You knew when you walked in there, you didn’t have any options and you didn’t get to speak.”
Rick Hendrick on the feud between Earnhardt and Bodine
“I told Geoff one time, I said, ‘Listen, you don’t pick up a snake and shake him by his tail and let him go. You’re going to rub on him [Earnhardt]. Then he’s going to wreck you. So, why don’t you just quit?’ “
“They just couldn’t do it.”
“Bill [France} said, ‘Ok, the next race, if you guys even get close to each other, I’m going to have to park the cars and come out of the tower and inspect them. Cause something must be wrong with them. And it might be the end of the race because I don’t know if I can get across the track.’ “
In Days of Thunder, the same threat was made
“He had had enough. It was getting out of control,” Rick Hendrick stated.