(David Cronenberg, 1979)
Unless "The Devil At Your Heels" counts, this is the best racecar film I've seen, which is naturally to be credited to the director. Out to prove that he could sublimate his signature quirks into a workmanlike commercial approach, Cronenberg does his best work with actors to this date: the genre's usual range of saints and evildoers and women with hearts of gold are so free of histrionics it's almost disorienting. He even finds space to get a little perverse; the obligatory sex scene prominently involves motor oil, and the way the men melt into the machines in the racing sequences is as distinctive as the attentive accumulations of mechanical detail that set them up. Also check out his striking and atypical use of silence during the speedway's downtimes. You could even argue that the lurid flaming death at the climax plays to his preferences as well, but that would be stretching things - more likely it's another booby-trap courtesy of the derivative hack-job script he's been given to work with. That he can wring any dinner at all out of this dish rag is a credit to his talents, but come on - he's a director, not an alchemist.