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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kids chase NASCAR stardom in Racing Dreams

click to enlarge Engrossing doc follows youngsters with drive
  • Engrossing doc follows youngsters with drive

In the engrossing documentary Racing Dreams, 12-year-old Josh Hobson can train to be a NASCAR racer even when his dad drives him around town. During the summer months, Josh cranks the car’s heater up to 90 degrees to help him acclimatize to the scorching temperatures of NASCAR tracks. Racing Dreams’ aspiring drivers may be too young for learner’s permits, but they ain’t kidding around.

Filmmaker Marshall Curry follows Josh and two other adolescent competitors in the National Karting Association’s five-race season. If go-karts strike you as improbable vehicles for a compelling documentary, know that these machines look like stock cars, hit speeds comparable to your own automobile and allow tomorrow's NASCAR stars to prove their mettle. Nevertheless, Racing Dreams finds young protagonists with such intriguing personal stories, the audience cares more about their lives than who crosses the finish line first. Racing Dreams spends relatively less time with Josh, a focused but friendly youngster who’s such a nice guy, you can’t resent him for being Little Mister Perfect. The film’s other two subjects face greater challenges. Annabeth Barnes, who turns 12 during the course of the film, is the only female competitor among her peers and practically leads a double life with her schoolmates. Brandon Warren, 13, drives like a demon but wrestles with problems at home. The film illuminates some of the young drivers' strategies, and when Brandon comes from behind in one race, even NASCAR neophytes can recognize his skill.

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(Photo by Wolfgang Held)

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