Racing game cameos in pop-cultural media

Reading time: 4 minutes
Racing games are not just for hardcore motorsports fans. In fact, popcultural media often uses popular franchises from the racing world. Even Batman got his hands on a car from Gran Turismo!
Photo credit: Newmarket Films, 空練

Have you ever watched a movie, read a book or listened to some music and suddenly realised: "Hey, that looks familiar ...that's my favourite racing game"? Crossovers between franchises and mediums are always a nice surprise for the fandom. Here are four cameos of racing games being featured in popcultural pieces.

Donnie Darko: Donnie plays Outrun



Photo credit: Newmarket Films


In 2001, the psychological thriller Donnie Darko conquered the cinemas by storm. The movie also includes a nice gem for racing fans. About one hour into the film, protagonist Donnie is seen in an arcade hall with his girlfriend Gretchen. There, he plays the 1986 arcade game Out Run by Sega, one of the most ground-breaking early racing games. The movie shows the couple standing in front of the cabinet and then switches to a close up of Donnie's gameplay, where he crashes the red Ferrari Testarossa Spider.

Notice how it is a red car crashing? Through the shot, Donnie as well as the viewers subconsciously realise that this vehicle will play an important and destructive role later. The scene indeed foreshadows a later plot point, where a red car turns up in real life, then runs over and kills one of the main characters. We don't want to write any spoilers for those who have not yet watched the movie. Just keep in mind that the Out Run scene hints to an important event.

Racing arcade in "In My Mind" by Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino





"And in my mind, in my head, this is where we all came from". You've surely heard this 2018 club hit at parties or on the radio. But have you ever watched its music video? It opens with a hooded person enjoying a racing arcade, going full throttle in Formula 1. The machine comes with the classic wheel and gear shift. For the mysterious person however, the arcade is not immersive enough as they go on and drift around the empty city at full speed in a yellow Dodge Challenger. While we do not condone their actions and suggest you stick to sim racing instead, the song can definitely boost your performance during your next online race.

Gran Turismo in Wreck-It Ralph



Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios


Did you know that Gran Turismo appears in a Disney movie? To be fair, you might have missed it because it is the tiniest cameo possible in Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2. In fact, only the iconic logo appears in the background of a scene for about one second. Nonetheless, the community was excited to see their childhood game being featured. Much like the first movie, Wreck it Ralph 2 is clustered with references to video games and various Disney properties.

Gran Turismo in Justice League





The Gran Turismo series counts as one of the most successful and popular racing game franchises. Naturally, even world-famous movie directors such as Zack Snyder have played it. For the DC superhero film Justice League, he had a clear vision for Batman's vehicle: he wanted a car that Mercedes designed for the 2013 PlayStation 3 hit Gran Turismo 6. As it was only created for the game, it was never a real, functioning car. The prop team then had to build their own real-life prototype Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo. As Batman actor Ben Affleck is quite tall, they needed to upsize it by about 10% so he could fit in it properly.

In what other media did you notice a racing game cameo? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!
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