Length: 50 minutes
Release Date: December 31, 2000
Directed by: Stephen Low
Genre: Documentary / Action / Sport
IMAX documentaries are known for their clear picture, great sound effects and beautiful cinematography. “Super Speedway” is the perfect example of this elite group of films. Famed racer Mario Andretti works on restoring an old 1960s Indy roadster, reflecting on his career and the art of racing, while his son Michael builds his new race car. Audiences will be stunned by breathtaking action sequences, but the dramatic story of father and son perfecting their race cars is just as engaging.
In the beginning of the film, viewers meet Mario Andretti. This renowned race car driver has won the F1 Championship, the Daytona 500, the CART Championship and the Indianapolis 500. Viewers also meet his son, Michael Andretti, an up-and-coming driver who races for the Newman/Haas team. The main story follows Mario and Michael as they build the ultimate race car for Michael. Viewers get a glimpse into the world of racing as they watch the new race car transform from a mock-up to a fully functioning vehicle at the Lola car plant in England. The team of drivers and engineers reveals the complex task of creating a race car, subjecting it to various tests to achieve maximum performance. Workers test the engine to see just how much strain it can handle before overheating, and viewers see first-hand how wind resistance works with a visual smoke test.
The plot occasionally switches over to an alternate story about a mechanic who finds an old 1964 roadster in a chicken coop and decides to restore it. Audiences watch as the worn-down vehicle transforms over the course of the film into a beautiful race car . Although Mario Andretti helps his son road-test his new car as it is perfected, the mechanic eventually introduces him to the restored vehicle, giving him a chance to drive it around the track. These two stories lead up to the PP Cart World Series when Michael will finally see if his new car can take him across the finish line in time.
Audiences who watch “Super Speedway” for the amazing race sequences will not be disappointed, but the film also showcases the love and dedication the Andretti family has for the sport and each other. It also focuses heavily on automobile creation and restoration processes, giving audiences a look into the inner workings of race cars and the complex procedures they must undergo before finally making it onto the track.
This film was originally made for IMAX theaters, so it is understandably visually appealing. The images are sharp, and the race sequences make viewers feel as if they are in the cockpits of the Andrettis’ race cars. The sound is just as spectacular, creating a life-like experience and immersing the viewer into the life of racing. Although this film does lose some of its appeal on the small screen, viewers still enjoy the strategic camera angles and cars driving at upwards of 200 MPH. Due to its larger-than-life appeal, the “Super Speedway” DVD is perfect for testing out a new wide-screen TV or surround sound system.
Although racing fans will particularly enjoy learning about the trials and tribulations of racing, the film also appeals to casual viewers with its entertaining race scenes and overall story of creation and transformation. As Mario Andretti drives the restored roadster down a quiet street lined by maple trees, audiences cannot help but feel breathless and in awe of the innovations of mankind. These epic racing scenes are coupled with a fitting musical score by Gilles Ouellet. This score truly adds to the film, injecting just the right amount of spirit and emotion into every scene.
Paul Newman , one of the owners of the Andretti racing team, narrates the film beautifully with a subdued, humble voice. The Andretti family, Don Lyons and other individuals featured throughout the film occasionally feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, with some scenes looking more acted than genuine. However, the actors truly open up about their lives, careers and philosophies about racing, helping audiences to feel as if they know the individuals personally. This gives the film a warm, welcoming atmosphere that further enhances the experience of the viewer.
Audiences should buckle their seat belts and hold on tight for “Super Speedway.” This exciting documentary launches them directly into the heart of racing. Audiences are encouraged to watch this film on a large screen with the audio pumped way up for an unforgettable movie-watching experience. Featuring action, drama, informative lessons and plenty of heart, this film is sure to become a favorite of racing fans and casual viewers.
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