12 Best (and Strangest) Racing-Related Songs of All Time
March is a great month for motor racing. By the end of the month, the racing season will have officially begun for all the major championships – IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula 1, IMSA SportsCar, the list goes on. To celebrate the new year of racing ahead, we’ve compiled some of the greatest songs that either directly reference professional racing or were used famously for network intros.
So, put some headphones on and get listening to some of the best, and strangest, racing songs of all time.
George Harrison – “Faster”
Perhaps the greatest motorsport-related song on this list, this upbeat rocker from 1979 was dedicated by the Beatle to “the Entire Formula One Circus” and as a memorial to “Super Swede” Ronnie Peterson, who was killed during the ’78 Italian Grand Prix.
It’s no surprise George Harrison penned this track – he was a lifelong motorsport fan, especially of F1 where he attended numerous races and befriended many of the drivers (he even helped fund Damon Hill’s racing career).
This song was released as a single for benefit of the Gunnar Nilsson Fund – started after Swedish driver Nilsson’s battle with cancer. The single itself was available as a fantastic limited-edition picture vinyl record (the first Beatle to release a picture disc), that features the faces of Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter.
And the F1 fun doesn’t stop there. The music video is a must-watch for racing fans as it features a compilation of 70s F1 action, with some footage actually shot by Harrison himself at the ‘79 Brazilian and Monaco GPs. Plus, there’s George Harrison playing guitar in the back of a limo chauffeured by Jackie Stewart – you can’t ask for anything more!
Mark Knopfler – “Speedway at Nazareth”
Mark Knopfler, the chief singer/songwriter and lead guitarist behind Dire Straits, is a massive racing and automotive enthusiast. He also happens to be friends with ex-F1/IndyCar driver Stefan Johansson since they met at the Austrian GP in ‘86. Knopfler wrote this song in the early 1990s after conversations with Johansson and the song details the trials and tribulations of a Champ Car driver, while naming many of the tracks featured during the golden CART years: Phoenix, Long Beach, Indy, Milwaukee, Belle Isle, Portland, Ontario, Mid-Ohio, Toronto, Road America, Monterey, and, you guessed it, Nazareth.
EBC Racing Team – “Silver Arrows (Racing On) – Rock & Racing Edition”
Okay, here’s where things get a little different. EBC Racing team is comprised of American rock and blues singer/songwriter Tony Carey, German rock queen Ela, and Englishman J.R. Blackmore, son of Ritchie Blackmore, the guitar legend from Deep Purple and Rainbow. Carey was so excited about the return of a factory Mercedes-Benz F1 team in 2010, and the comeback of Michael Schumacher, that they wrote this hair-metal ode to the racing history of Mercedes-Benz. Where else can you hear someone belt about Rudolf Caracciola and Juan Manuel Fangio over heavy distorted guitar?
DJ Visage – “Formula 01 – Monte Carlo Radio Mix”
Known simply as “The Schumacher song” by many, this quintessential 90s Euro-electronica song features a loop of an F1 engine revving, with the occasional F1 drive-by sound, while someone German says from time to time, “SCHUMACHER!”. The best parts are the racing sounds, as it reminds us that we still desperately miss the sound of a V10 F1 engine.
Check back again for part 2 of the list. Did we miss a favorite racing song of yours? Comment below!