Movie Review: ‘Racing Dreams’
By Robert Abele
Called the Little League for professional racing, the World Karting Assn. is a storied training ground for NASCAR. It’s also the backdrop for Marshall Curry’s finely tuned documentary “Racing Dreams,” which takes a sympathetic look at three kids whose stock car aspirations and zest for speed must also contend with the realities of a fast-approaching adulthood. The competition scenario — in this case, WKA’s five-race national championship held over the course of a year — is a familiar one for personality-driven docs, but Curry’s impressionable, charismatic young subjects are impossible not to care about.
Annabeth is a gangly, boy-crazy, 11-year-old racing fanatic with eyes on gender role-smashing, Danica Patrick-like fame. Josh, 12, is a behind-the-wheel natural and budding professional who’s already practicing his interview skills. The sport’s priciness, meanwhile — which necessitates an early skill at fundraising and securing sponsorship — means this could be the last year for 13-year-old Brandon, a troubled kid from a poor, broken family. The film doesn’t always follow up on its more interesting issues: safety, technique, financial hardship, even the sport’s history. But the emotional dynamics of its trio of formative hopefuls, and their touching relationships with the parents or guardians who work hard at enabling their passion, set a solid pace.