Skip to content

“Turbo” is IndyCar’s best chance to hit mainstream, new fans in a dozen years

Jul 16, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

TURBO

There’s one very important thing I’ll say up front about DreamWorks Animation’s latest animated film, “Turbo:” It’s not about “us.”

By “us,” I mean racing insiders, veterans and observers who are already hooked on IndyCar racing, or have followed the sport for generations, through any and all peaks and valleys, management turmoil and political unrest.

No, “Turbo” represents IndyCar’s best chance in the last dozen years to re-enter the mainstream consciousness, and attract new, particularly younger fans. It’s a rare chance that can’t be squandered, given the last film attempt trying to pump open-wheel racing out to a broader audience was “Driven.”

A dozen years later, the film starring an aging veteran (Sylvester Stallone) coming out of retirement to help develop a talented rookie (Kip Pardue, better known as the guy who played Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass in “Remember the Titans”) is still a running joke in racing circles.

It’s with that as a backdrop that I’ll say that DreamWorks has managed to make a movie about a snail entering the Indianapolis 500 – an unrealistic premise in anything other than an animated film – more realistic than “Driven.”

Of course, “Turbo” aims much higher than that. If the social media and marketing tagline at this year’s Indianapolis 500 was “Indy 500 or Bust,” “Turbo or Bust” might be an appropriate one for this film.

The visionary on the project is director, co-writer and story creator David Soren, a Toronto native who came home to see an advanced screening this past weekend ahead of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.

Soren said ahead of the screening that the inspiration came from his children’s love of speed and his own snail infestation problem in his front yard. He was one of several who spoke to the Associated Press for a preview piece.

The idea was one of dozens he’d submitted to DreamWorks, and it got approved after years of trying.

Without giving anything plot-wise away, the concept behind the film is simple: your all-American dream of rags to riches, except in this case, it’s a snail (Theo, who becomes Turbo, voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who gains supernatural speed in a freak accident and escapes the drudgery of his home to attempt to race in the Indianapolis 500.

Objectively speaking, the film starts out great for the first half hour or so, with perhaps a slight lull in the middle, and a build to the climax at the finish. At barely 90 minutes, if that, it’s short enough to keep an attention span without dragging.

One of the things I was impressed with from the screening was the attention to detail. If you’ve ever been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, either as a fan or working, you’ll appreciate every little observation that has been perfectly adapted.

They’ve ensured it’s not some generic IndyCar in the film, but that it is the current Dallara DW12 in low-downforce speedway configuration. Plus the legendary/notorious “Yellow Shirts” appear, the Pagoda and the scoring tower are depicted accurately, and other elements along the way immediately strike a chord that DreamWorks “gets it.”

Dario Franchitti’s presence on the film as a technical consultant clearly helps the racing sequences. The super-imposing of a snail racing in-between 32 other cars shouldn’t have been as seamlessly integrated as it is, but it looks promising.

The thing I was most impressed with on Thursday night? The laughter. The actual engagement for the kids of drivers Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Carpenter, who were either rolling on the floor laughing or had their eyes so big because they were captivated.

Yes, these kids already have the internal workings of IndyCar at least somewhat tattoed on their brains. But if they’re anything close to a representative sample of how younger kids who have no idea or concept of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 might react, that’s going to be a benefit for all parties.

My advice going into the film? If you’re currently involved with the series, remove yourself from the internal day-to-day workings of IndyCar and how race weekends tend to go. Sit back, relax, and appreciate the detail that’s on offer.

And if you’re not into IndyCar, or racing, it seriously has the potential to convert you. I walked out and heard a couple kids asking questions about IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500, and that was all I needed to hear.

“Turbo” opens nationwide July 17. See the trailer above and see a list of other “Turbo” related stories we’ve done on MotorSportsTalk listed below.

Latest Posts
  1. Here to stay: Keselowski vows that he won’t be run out of the sport

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    The championship contender talks about his reputation during a Monday night appearance at Texas Motor Speedway.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Pressure mounts with four races to go in Chase (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

    As NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty explains, the new Chase format has created something that NASCAR hasn’t seen before.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon’s “Drive For Five” continues at Martinsville (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    GEICO 500 - Practice Getty Images

    A ninth Martinsville win on Sunday would put Gordon into the Championship Race at Homestead. Check out his interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Jason Weigandt about his success at M’Ville and more.

  4. Joey Logano says he’s made peace with Danica Patrick over Charlotte wreck

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    GEICO 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Logano admits he should’ve given Patrick more space on the race track two weekends ago.

  5. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA talks with “Eliminator 8″ at 5 p.m. ET

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Credit: NASCAR Credit: NASCAR

    Extended interviews with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Carl Edwards also coming up on today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA.

  6. Company that builds Caterham’s F1 cars put into administration

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Practice Getty Images

    A source tells Reuters that the legal action is not expected to impact the racing activities of the team, which is owned by a separate entity.

  7. Martinsville is first chance for Chase’s “lesser names” to punch ticket to Homestead

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    GEICO 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards can launch themselves into the Championship at Homestead with a win this weekend.

  8. Kyle Fowler to make Sprint Cup debut this weekend with GO FAS Racing

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    32carMville Getty Images

    Kyle Fowler joins the Sprint Cup grid at Martinsville.

  9. NASCAR won’t penalize Ryan Newman, No. 31 team for Talladega infraction

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    NASCAR says damage sustained during Sunday’s GEICO 500 was the cause of his car being too low in post-race inspection.

  10. Flurry of orders placed for new 2015 Indy Lights car

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    IndyLightsLogo

    The Indy Lights grid is beginning to take shape for 2015.

  11. Total CEO dies in Moscow plane crash

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    TotalCEO AP

    Total’s CEO dies in plane crash; this could have motorsports impact.

  12. Five up-and-coming drivers participate in Porsche Academy

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Urry, Skeer, Thompson, Cindric, Hargrove. Photo: IMSA Urry, Skeer, Thompson, Cindric, Hargrove. Photo: IMSA

    Porsche provides five young drivers shot to learn and further integrate themselves with the brand.

  13. Cool story: Blind 16-year-old gets to drive, once, and live his dream (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Screen-Shot-2014-10-21-at-8.56

    A blind 16-year-old gets to live his dream and have a brief chance behind the wheel.

  14. Kurt Busch, Susie Wolff added to Race of Champions field

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    BuschSusie Getty Images

    Kurt Busch, Susie Wolff join Race of Champions lineup.

  15. Insight: Planning Andretti’s Sports Marketing promotional efforts at Miami and NOLA

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    GERMANY-AUTOMOBILE-ECONOMY-FAIR-IAA Getty Images

    Andretti Sports Marketing explains some of the tricks to the trade in promoting new race events, with Miami and NOLA set for 2015.

  16. “What’Cha Got” Episode 1: Chandler Hoffman sets the bar (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    HoffmanLAWCG Getty Images

    LA Galaxy’s Chandler Hoffman first up in “What’Cha Got” presented by Continental Tire show to drive a Lamborghini.

  17. NASCAR AMERICA: Parity among Chase teams in Eliminator Round (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Geico 500 Getty Images

    Six different teams are represented among the eight remaining Chasers, and NASCAR’s post-season is starting to resemble another familiar tournament. NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton discuss.

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Is Ryan Newman’s Chase status up in the air? (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Newman, one of the “Eliminator 8,” may be penalized tomorrow by NASCAR after his car was found to be too low following Sunday’s race at Talladega. Nate Ryan has more on the situation.

  19. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Martinsville

    Oct 20, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered By Kroger Getty Images

    Notes and numbers to keep in mind as the 8 remaining Chasers prepare to begin the Eliminator Round.

  20. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 7 p.m. ET recaps Talladega

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Recapping Talladega on NASCAR AMERICA.

Video from NASCAR America

Pressure mounts with 4 races remaining
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (2044)
  2. K. Busch (1986)
  3. J. McMurray (1262)
  4. T. Stewart (1223)
  5. W. Pitkat (1134)