I spent hours last Christmas on the floor with my then five-year-old nephew trying to explain to him that Francesco Bernoulli was in fact, much, much faster that Speed McQueen. I tried to explain that Francesco had a lower aerodynamic profile, so less drag, but more down force that would allow him to take corners much faster, and because he was so much lighter than McQueen he would accelerate much, much faster as well. All my efforts went to no avail.
My nephew was born about the same time the first Cars movie came out and for a good two years everything in his life from his Crocs to his favorite shirts was Cars related. Now an Indycar themed movie has similar potential.
Last year Dreamworks studio announced that “Turbo” was in development. All the studio said about the story is that it was about a garden snail that wanted to race in the Indy 500. Racing fans everywhere greeted with guarded optimism. I think every Indycar fan hopes the movie can be as successful as the first Cars, or at least not nearly as bad as the 2001’s CART themed “Driven.” The Split-era movie was a box office flop and is a running joke around race fans.
Dreamworks recently released an 80 second teaser trailer and it appears to have been met warmly but websites that write about this stuff. The cast might not be all star, but it’s filled with solid actors with lengthy resumes like Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Michelle Rodriguez and Paul Giamatti.
The movie is set to be released July 19th and a lot of fans are hopeful that Turbo will do for Indycar what Cars did for NASCAR, but I kind of question what, if anything, Cars did for NASCAR. Despite how much my nephew loved Cars (He still likes it but it was clearly a passing thing.) he’s never watched a NASCAR race and has yet to show any interest in real racing. The Katherine Legge jersey I got for his sister didn’t go over well either.
Cars gets credit for introducing NASCAR to a wider, younger audience, but looking at the ratings since the movie you’d be hard pressed to argue that it brought a significant number of people into the sport. Maybe years down the road kids like my nephew with fond memories of Cars will come across a NASCAR race and be more open to it, but I doubt it.
It would be great if certain writers stopped referring to NASCAR, when clearly the film is about Indycar.
Hopefully Turbo will give Indycar some more “kitchen table credibility,” and raise overall awareness of the series. I’m happy to see a quality movie made, but will it open up the series to a new audience and convert them to fans? I’d like to hope so, but I think the best thing we can hope for is that Turbo will be a financial success. If Turbo is financially successful it could open the door for other projects, like the reality show pilot about three Indycar wives. If nothing else it would be great if it could help me win an argument with my nephew.