Aimed squarely at dyed-in-the-wool fans of stock-car racing, this large-format 3-D film offers a bit of NASCAR history, a smattering of engineering facts, glimpses of some of the sport's most popular personalities and a whole lot of hyperbolic chatter about the populist glory of driving really noisy cars in a circle at 200 miles per hour. In keeping with NASCAR's family-friendly image, talk of ferocious competition is balanced by observations about working together as a team and a consistent emphasis on the sport's family dynasties, including the Earnhardts, the Pettys and the Frances. No one will ever mistake stock-car racing for the sport of kings: It sprouted up in dust bootleggers left in their wakes after modifying their cars to better outrun local cops and IRS agents. As men with fast cars are wont to do, the bootleggers began racing their souped-up autos and a series of ad hoc raceways sprang up to accommodate them. In 1947, pioneering racer Bill France Sr. persuaded the owners and operators of these regional circuits to consolidate their assets into the National Association for Stock Car Racing. This large-scale puff piece, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, heaps praise on the fans who crowd speedways across America and valorizes drivers as first-class athletes, generous team players and all-around terrific guys. To its credit, it does make clear the degree to which drivers are just the tip of a vast iceberg of mechanics, engineers, test drivers, spotters, coaches and pit crews. It appears to take almost as much technology and manpower to send a driver across the finish line at the Daynota 500 as it does to launch a manned space shuttle. The precision coordination of the pit crews is genuinely astonishing, from the moment 3400 pounds of car rolls up in front of them to the choreographed frenzy that gets it jacked up, refueled, given a new set of tires and sent back onto the track in a matter of seconds. And seeing drivers emerging unhurt from high-speed crashes especially the one whose car smashed into the track embankment, slid across the roadway and then cartwheeled into the grass centerfield makes you wish consumer automobiles were built to NASCAR safety standards.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG
- Review: Aimed squarely at dyed-in-the-wool fans of stock-car racing, this large-format 3-D film offers a bit of NASCAR history, a smattering of engineering facts, glimpses of some of the sport's most popular personalities and a whole lot of hyperbolic chatter abou… (more)