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Thunder in Carolina is a 1960 stock car racing film directed by Paul Helmick and starring Rory Calhoun, Alan Hale, Jr., and Connie Hines. Written by Alexander Richards, it contains 1959-vintage stock car race footage.

Thunder in Carolina
Directed byPaul Helmick
Produced byJ. Francis White
Written byAlexander Richards
StarringRory Calhoun
Alan Hale, Jr.
Connie Hines
Music byWalter Greene
CinematographyJoseph C. Brun
Edited byRex Lipton
Distributed byHowco International Pictures
Release date
  • July 1960 (1960-07)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States

Filmed at a number of small dirt ovals in the South, the film is set in the 1959 edition of NASCAR's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. All filming was done during that year with much of the footage taken during the actual event. A film car was entered to capture on-track sequences and Rory Calhoun actually ran some laps during the race. Calhoun drives a two-tone 1957 Chevrolet, with a blue body and white top, while his friend-turned-competitor "Les York" is in a 1959 Oldsmobile.

The film is a "B" grade production in terms of budget but Thunder In Carolina managed to capture much of the sound and fury of the era. The film was later marketed on home video as "Hard Drivin'" with a freeze-frame title spliced into the opening.



A stock-car veteran (Rory Calhoun) teaches a grease monkey to race in the Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C.


  • Rory Calhoun ... Mitch Cooper
  • Alan Hale, Jr. ... Buddy Schaeffer
  • Connie Hines ... Rene York
  • Race Gentry ... Les York (billed as John Gentry)
  • Ed McGrath ... Reichert
  • Troyanne Ross ... Kay Hill
  • Helen Downey ... Eve Mason
  • Van Casey ... Stoogie
  • Tripplie Wisecup ... Myrtle Webb
  • Carey Loftin ... Tommy Webb
  • Billie Langston ... Peaches
  • Ann Stevens ... Singer
  • George Rembert, Jr. ... Junior Thorsen
  • Olwen Roney ... Motel manager
  • Richard Taylor ... Higgins
  • George Fordham ... Waiter


Quentin Tarantino is a fan of the film.[1]

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