IndyCar Officials Hope For Lift In Awareness From DreamWorks' Animated Film "Turbo"
If reaction to screenings for DreamWorks' new animated movie "Turbo" is any indication, "the film could put Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Izod IndyCar Series ... on the map with a younger generation of fans," according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY. Director David Soren said of IndyCar, "I do hope it makes an impact for them." But as "highly anticipated movies go, open-wheel racing has been burned in the past." Those in the sport "still cringe" about the buildup to "Driven," the '01 film featuring Sylvester Stallone based around the former CART series. As "bad as Driven was, Turbo is expected to be well-received and far more beneficial to its subject." What the films share is the "use of realistic sites, backdrops and licensing." The "backdrop of the Indy 500, IMS and the city of Indianapolis in Turbo" is "recognizable to race fans." Driver Dario Franchitti, who consulted on the film, said, "The [IMS] pagoda looks exactly as it is, and even the serrations in the track are perfect. ... People who know the Speedway will recognize it immediately." Olson notes that Soren, after "coming to an agreement on licensing that would allow elements of the Speedway and the race to be used in the film," used "extensive and complicated computer imaging to recreate IMS, the 500 and its surroundings." DreamWorks has produced "some of the most popular computer animated films of the era" and IMS and IndyCar officials are "hoping Turbo is a hit that provides a tangible bump in interest." Driver Tony Kanaan said, "I think it absolutely will help us." Kanaan's car has "carried the Turbo sponsorship for three races this season and will again" at the Honda Indy 200 on Aug. 4 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (USA TODAY, 7/17). Franchitti said, "The attention to detail is incredible. I don’t think it would’ve (affected) the story to the average person, but to IndyCar fans, whether it’s drivers or team members or fans, it’s important it was realistic and accurate." Franchitti added, "It's important to attract new fans to any sport. With ‘Turbo’ we can open up the sport of IndyCar to a whole new audience" (NEWSDAY, 7/11).
HITTING THE GAS: The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote IndyCar for the last several years has been operating "with big ideas but a thin marketing budget," and "nothing has seemed to work in building a sustainable buzz around the series." It now has a "life-size, free advertisement of its centerpiece event and storied speedway on big screens across America." Kanaan was "one of several drivers who attended" the N.Y. premiere. All were "impressed with the realism of both their craft and the speedway." Kanaan: "I think the movie has a great message -- it's about getting the awareness of the Indy 500, but also a message of perseverance." Driver Sébastien Bourdais said, "It's one of these movies that you can take it with two degrees, with the adult's eye and kid's eye because it fits perfectly. It's the right message and it's great for the IndyCar Series" (AP, 7/15). NBCSPORTS.com's Tony DiZinno wrote the film "represents IndyCar’s best chance in the last dozen years to re-enter the mainstream consciousness, and attract new, particularly younger fans." It is a "rare chance that can’t be squandered" after the poor reaction to "Driven." That film is "still a running joke in racing circles" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/16).