How does the anarchic comedic sensibilities of Anchorman director/star combo Adam McKay and Will Ferrell mesh with the middle American sensibilities of NASCAR? Not that bad, it turns out. When I attended the Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (when is this movie screening again? I love it!) junket, I asked Adam McKay if it was true that NASCAR asked him to tone down the insane crashes in the movie (and they’re quite nuts). Not so much, he said, although they did ask for one – and only one – joke to be trimmed.
Q: I heard a rumor that NASCAR asked you to tune down some of the crashes.
McKay: They did, but we didn’t end up doing it too much. The truth is now in NASCAR that they have those airflaps on cars so they don’t flip up as much as we have them. We have them twisting in the air like 20 times. Part of the joke for us is that the crashes were so cartoonish and over the top, and they were like, ‘That doesn’t happen anymore.’ But if you look at it, they’re still pretty crazy. You still go up in the air a lot. We pulled back a little bit, but in the script it was insane. It was almost like Japanime the way they were crashing.
We did definitely pull back a touch, but I was stunned at how cool NASCAR was with it. There was one joke in the whole thing they made us cut. When Ricky first takes the wheel of the car it’s me pulling up as the driver and I say I have to take a piss. The initial joke was the driver pulled up and was dead behind the wheel. He was supposed to be an incredibly obese driver and he had been eating chicken wings and had a heart attack. He had leaned on the wheel in such a way that allowed him to still go around the track in a circle, and they thought it was quite insulting to the skills necessary to drive in NASCAR.
I love that joke, and I think unfortunately the joke we replaced it with wasn’t as strong, so we cut it quick. But that was the only joke they made us take out of the whole movie. They were cool with it. I have to give them credit.