DRIVEN TO DESPAIR
More than a decade on, Driven is still panned
not only as a bad racing film, but as one of the
worst movies of all time. With a formulaic plot,
laughably over-the-top CGI crashes and 55-year
old Sylvester Stallone starring as a hard-luck
driver, the $72 million disaster contributed to
CART’s eroding credibility in 2001.
Pac West Racing played a major role in the
making of Driven. A dedicated crew built (and
frequently rebuilt) the Andretti Driving School
cars used for the racing scenes, and its sponsors
Motorola and Nextel bought screen time.
“Having seen some great racing movies,
I was enthusiastic about the idea if we could do
it well and believably,” recalled Pac West founder
Bruce McCaw. “If you can get yourselves in
front of mainstream America, it’s worth doing.
I think it had a lot of opportunity to help CART.
“Paul Newman and I had the same concerns
about how to keep control over Stallone and
his group,” McCaw added. “But, obviously, the
film turned out to be a disappointment...”
(ABOVE) We won’t
give away the plot of
Turbo, except to say it
involves a high-speed
garden snail and
realistic renderings of
the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. (LEF T)
James Cagney played
Joe Greer in 1932’s
The Crowd Roars.
(BELOW) Alex Zanardi
Stallone during the
filming of Driven, a
movie that probably
did CART way more
harm than good.
“Henry Banks [USAC Competition
Director] gave honorary championship
driver’s licenses to Newman and Wagner,”
he recalls. “Wagner thanked him and
probably didn’t give it another thought.
But Henry came back to the office and
said, ‘Paul Newman really got into this.
After I gave him the honorary license, he
sidled over and said, “What do I have to
do to get a real one of these?”’”
Newman himself confirmed the impact
that Winning had on his own life to RACER
in 2004. “That’s what got me started,” he
said. “I had a lot of fun filming it, but never
really had a chance to stretch my legs and
find out what I could really do in a car. It
took me three years of rearranging my
schedule before I could find time to get my
license. After that, I never did a film
between April and September or October.”
The Speedway itself plays a starring
role in Winning, and the lovingly produced
15-minute sequence from dawn on Race
Day to the waving of the green flag for
the start of the “500” will bring a tear to
the eye of any fan of the historic track.
Filming was scheduled to start in the
spring of 1968, but Rodger Ward
suggested waiting until after the Indy 500
so the most current cars could be featured.
“When Bobby Unser won, his car
became the winning car in the movie,”
says Davidson. “They wanted the footage
to be as up to date as possible.”
Winning might not have been a smash at
the box office, but by drawing Newman into
the sport at a deeper level, it had a positive
impact on Indy car racing for decades.
Turbo’s mission is to draw in the next
generation of Indy car racing fans, but
whether an animated snail that dreams of
racing in the “500” can help revive an
entire sport remains to be seen. The movie
itself is as far removed from silent films like
Racing Hearts and Speedway as a modern
Dallara DW12 is from a 1929 Miller.
But the common denominator is the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And when you
strip away all the wrecks and contrived plot
twists, the Brickyard endures as a star – from
black-and-white celluloid to vivid IMAX 3-D.
“When you strip away all the
wrecks and contrived plot twists,
the Brickyard endures as a star”