Last week, I had the privilege to attend the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development team’s 2010 pre-season media kick-off. Senior VP of Product Development & Quality Robert Davis gave the lowdown on Mazda North America’s current status and the 2010 racing season before turning the floor to Cargo Productions.
The evening marked the debut of the documentary, Driven to Race*, which followed several racing teams in the Star Mazda race series and part of the famous “Mazda Ladder”.
The teams and their drivers were first introduced: family-owned Kester Racing and the Kester siblings, JC and Kristy; Charles Hall; John Edwards; Michele Bumgarner; Peter Dempsey; and others. I have to admit I was more than a bit surprised how young they were: most were below 18, with driver Charles Hall one of the “oldest” in his late twenties.
The film showcases what happens to each team as they compete through the requisite twelve races. Director Brian Spillane breaks the two hour film into bite-size chunks, each focusing on a particular driver or aspect of racing. Hall, for example, had been involved in a horrendous non-racing auto accident that shortened his legs. Driver John Edwards, on the other hand, enters the series one race short.
Personal issues like driver Michele Bumgarner’s first time on the track and the omnipresent need for sponsorship (Charles Hall, Blimpie) adds to the tension as the drivers fight to win each race. The audience, including myself, was hooked, suffering as drivers drop out or are eliminated, cheering as the checkered flag dropped at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and declares a winner.
Driven to Race producer Jeff Kruger, director Spillane, and several drivers from various series, led a Q&A session afterwards.
In my opinion? Cargo Production did a bang up job in providing an insider’s look into the little documented world of “grassroots” racing. I found the film entertaining, highly educational as well as absorbing. Both serious racers as well as the general public will enjoy the film.
Driven to Race has not been released to the general public at the time of this post. I’ll update this entry with new showtimes and DVDs once they’re made available.
*The film is not sponsored by Mazda