by Rick Warner
Josh Hobson, Brandon Warren and Annabeth Barnes are kids with the same dream — to become professional stock-car drivers on the prestigious Nascar circuit.
“Racing Dreams,” a spirited, candid documentary by Oscar nominee Marshall Curry (“Street Fight”), follows the trio for a year as they compete in the World Karting Association’s national series — the equivalent of Little League for race-car drivers.
Driving karts (they’re no longer called go-karts) that look like toy versions of open-wheeled race cars, they dash around oval tracks at more than 70 miles per hour. It’s an expensive hobby that requires great dedication from the youngsters and their families, who travel around the U.S. seeking top-flight competition.
The three drivers, who ranged in age from 11 to 13 when the movie was shot, come from divergent backgrounds and have contrasting personalities.
Josh is a soft-spoken honors student from Michigan who hones his PR skills by watching interviews of top Nascar drivers. Brandon, raised by his grandparents in rural North Carolina while his father is in and out of prison, is a hot- tempered daredevil who was once disqualified from a race for reckless driving. Annabeth, a fellow North Carolinian, is a tall, fun-loving girl who wants to be the first female driver to win the Daytona 500.
Curry’s fly-on-the-wall direction gives us an unfiltered look into their lives, including painful moments like Brandon’s reunion with his dad. The kids are so refreshingly open about their fears and hopes, it’s hard not to root for them.