SportsHollywood Exclusive:
Lite Car
CART Drivers Rate Racing Films

By Dan Mahin

Monterey, California -- SportsHollywood went to Laguna Seca Raceway for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey. We interviewed various drivers, owners and celebrities, asking them what their favorite racing film is.

The event was the 16th race on Championship Auto Racing Teams’ (CART) 20-race schedule, and featured the fastest race cars known to man: the 900-horsepower carbon fiber and titanium CART Champ Cars of the FedEx Championship Series. The race was a 190 mile-per-hour game of intense precision and steely nerves, played by the greatest drivers in the world. (And, unlike in NASCAR, sometimes they actually turned right!)

Six Sux
Le Mans lemon
There have always been racing films: Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder; Burt Reynolds in Stroker Ace; James Garner in Grand Prix; Paul Newman in Winning; Steve McQueen in Le Mans; even Kenny Rogers in Six Pack. Many have been popular, though few have been praised by the critics.

But how do the drivers feel about these films?


SportsHollywood: What's your favorite racing movie?

BOBBY RAHAL, former driver, Co-owner, Team Rahal, and current CART President: "Grand Prix.... although I saw on Speedvision the other day an advertisement for The Green Helmet, and that looked kind of cool, (laughing). But Grand Prix is my favorite."

Winning is winning
RICK MEARS, three time CART Champion, Four time Indy 500 Winner, Racing Legend: "Well, Winning, as far as an actual race movie goes. But On Any Sunday which is a motorcycle movie, is probably one of the most realistic movies. I was racing motorcycles when that movie came out, and it was down-to-earth, realistically done. But Winning is one of my favorites."

BARRY GREEN, owner, Team KOOL Green: "My favorite racing move? Watching a tape of a CART race we've won."

'MAD' MAX PAPIS, driver, Team Rahal: "I don't watch racing movies."

Garnering awards
DARIO FRANCHITTI, driver, Team KOOL Green, fiancée of actress Ashley Judd: "Grand Prix. I think it's amazing. I was watching the movie three or four weeks ago in my motor home and I saw a friend of mine, Bernard Kaiyea (a journalist from France), in the credits. So I phoned him in France and said, 'Hey, what are you doing in Grand Prix?' It's a terrific movie."

ORIAL SERVIA, driver, PPI Racing: "Grand Prix."

BRYAN HERTA, driver, Forsythe Championship Racing: "Gotta be Grand Prix."

WILLY T. RIBBS, Trans-Am driver, first African-American to qualify for Indy 500: "I think Grand Prix. It was one of my first and it was a real long movie."

Newman's Own
Don't forget the boss.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, driver, Newman/Haas Racing, (co-owned by Paul Newman): "Hmmm.... I guess Winning would be my favorite (starring guess who -- Paul Newman)."

FELIPE GIAFFONE, Dayton Indy Lights driver: "The one coming up (Driven). Or Le Mans with Steve McQueen. I used to watch it when I was a kid."

CASEY MEARS, Dayton Indy Lights driver: "There's a lot of older movies, but I'm going to go with Days of Thunder, just because that's the most recent."

MEMO GIDLEY, driver/Della Penna Motorsports: "The only one I've ever seen, which is Days of Thunder I thought it was really good when I saw it 'cause I wasn't in racing, but now I think it's kind of stupid... but it's still really funny."

Cruise Control
SportsHollywood: Least favorite racing movie?

BOBBY RAHAL: "Well, I didn't even see it all, but Days of Thunder. That looked pretty bad, that might qualify. I used to think all of the Elvis Redline 7000 and all that was cool, but now you look back and they're so campy. They're kinda cool again--they're so bad they're good. But I think Days of Thunder was the worst thing I've ever seen."

WILLY T. RIBBS: "Days of Thunder. Disastrous. I love Tom Cruise, and he's a friend (they raced together in Trans-Am in the 80's). They could have written him a better part than that."

DEAN BUTTLER, former actor on Little House on the Prairie, current ESPN producer: "Everyone will want to sat Days of Thunder. But there was some great photographic things done in Days of Thunder... but it was really just Top Gun on wheels.

BRYAN HERTA: "Least and most is probably Days of Thunder. Only because a lot of it is not realistic, but what it did do was bring that type of racing to the fans, that part is good, So if there's a hope for the Stallone film it's that, It's going to take our type of racing to the fans."

MEMO GIDLEY: "Days of Thunder. That's the only racing movie I've ever watched."

GARY GERALD, ABC/ESPN Racing announcer: "I don't know... I can't remember many racing movies, to tell you the truth."

SportsHollywood: What actor would you like to play you in a movie?

BOBBY RAHAL: "What actor? Robert Duvall. He's my favorite actor, and he's got my hairline. (big laugh) They wouldn't have to do much make-up."

CASEY MEARS: "Val Kilmer, just because I like the guy."

The one and only Max.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I don't know, But Danny Devito should play Max Papis for sure. As for me I don't know."

'MAD' MAX PAPIS (laughing at Dario Franchitti): "Nobody. Me. There's only one Max Papis!"

WILLY T. RIBBS: "Paul Newman."

BRYAN HERTA: "Ah...Boy, I don't know, It would be nice if Tom Hanks did it, but I think more realistically is Steven Dorff."

ORIAL SERVIA: "Well, (laughing) why not Tom Cruise?"

Sly and Estella
Stallone and Estella Warren.
SportsHollywood: Do you think the Stallone movie will have a positive or negative impact on CART?

BOBBY RAHAL: "I think the purist will, hopefully, like it. The purists never like any movie -- even Grand Prix. It's like, 'God it's so hokey!' There's got to be a love story attached or something, but having said that, the purists are a very small section of the country and we need to take this [sport] more mainstream, so I've got to believe it'll will do a lot of good things for CART."

RICK MEARS: "I think it should have a positive impact, obviously you never know how something's going to be until they do all of the cutting, and put it on the screen, but hopefully -- we'll keep our fingers crossed -- they've done a nice job."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I think it's going to be very positive. It's going to bring CART to a much wider audience, For that reason it'll be very good. as for the drivers, we would like to see this very true to life documentary, but you have to remember that a day in the life of a Champ Car driver is not the most interesting thing in the world, so what generally makes a great movies is not the truth sometimes, so I'm sure there'll be a few bits we laugh at and some poetic license. I'm sure it'll make a great movie."

'MAD' MAX PAPIS: "I'm just a driver, I don't know. If it comes out and it's realistic, then it's a cool thing."

FELIPE GIAFFONE: "I'm a little concerned, hopefully it's going to be nice. If it's too fake it it's not going to help much, maybe even spoil it a little bit. As long as it's not like the one with Tom Cruise, It's going to be fine."


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