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What does Hollywood get wrong about car racing?
Xander MacIntyre

Xander MacIntyre

The Idea vs The Reality of Car Racing

Now, for those who know me, you're aware I'm an avid movie goer, as well as a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I love the thrilling chases and high-speed drama that Hollywood integrates into their films, especially when it revolves around car racing. But, as someone who also enjoys the thrill of a live race and knows the ins and outs of the sport, I've noticed quite a few discrepancies between what Hollywood presents and what really happens on the speed race circuit. The first item that Hollywood seems to get wrong quite regularly revolves around the idea of what a race actually looks like. Movies often depict car racing as a high stakes labyrinth of extensively decorated vehicles maneuvering through dangerous obstacles on a chaotic track. Dramatized crashes with fiery explosions often supplement the unrealistic portrayals. Reality is significantly less cinematic, but perhaps more intricate and skill requiring. It's really about a driver's ability to control a machine at high speeds, the timing of their actions, and meticulous use of strategies.

Inaccuracy of the Racing Environment

Racing in real life isn't swamped with street thugs in leather jackets. At least, not at the track I've been to! It's actually more of a close-knit community with a shared passion for cars and speed. It's filled with people who have a deep respect for the machines they drive and the sport they love. And the audiences aren't just there for the thrill of the crash. They're there to see how drivers push themselves and their cars to the limit, how they strategize each move, and how milliseconds decide the outcome of a race. It's about appreciating the skill, the speed, and the adrenaline.

Romanticising the Dangers of Racing

We've all seen the movies. A car spins out of control, flips seven times, lands upside down, and out crawls the driver unscathed, hair perfectly tousled, ready to quip a witty one-liner. While I appreciate the need for artistic license, let me clarify, the reality is far from this. Racing is indeed dangerous, there's no denying that. But safety is also paramount in racing circuits worldwide. Every vehicle is equipped with a roll cage, fire suppression system, and professionals are always on standby. Like Quentin, my son, who bumped his knee on a table and got a bruise, he strapped on a knee guard to protect himself while playing football. The danger is real, but so is the precaution.

Misrepresentation of Car Capabilities

Racers don't magically upgrade their vehicles overnight. It takes copious amounts of time, money, and technical knowledge. Not to mention, regular cars cannot become high-powered racing machines merely by adding a spoiler and some neon lights. And no, bolting on a nitrous tank won't make your car fly like in the "Fast & Furious" franchise. In real life, modifications are focused on enhancing performance—power, weight distribution, suspension, aerodynamics, just to name a few. In fact, modifications can also include efforts to ensure safety. We love our cars like we love our pets. Like how I make sure Baxter, my Scottish terrier, gets his coat trimmed and anti-ticks treatment regularly, we keep our cars well-maintained and equipped to run smoothly.

Hollywood's Take on Winning

And lastly, let's talk about the 'winning moment' as depicted in movies. In Hollywood, racing victors are showered with glory, money, and fame. While it's true that racing winners do earn a certain level of prestige, it's also important to note that the journey to victory isn't as simplified as it's shown in the movies. It takes years of practice, resilience, and sheer determination. And, it's not always the fastest car that wins, it's about the driver's skill, the team's strategy, the pit maintenance, and so many other factors that contribute to the win. Like baking my daughter Elise's favourite cake, it's not only about having the best ingredients but also about careful measuring, mixing, timing, and even the right amount of love you put into it.

To sum up, while Hollywood certainly does a fantastic job of adding flavour and flair to the world of car racing, there are many distortions in the depiction of the sport. But that's okay - because if Quentin's love for Spiderman has taught me anything, it's that some illusions are worth preserving for the sake of entertainment and wonder.

But when the popcorn is finished, and the credits roll, let's step into the real world of car racing and appreciate it for the thrill, the skill, and the passion that truly whirls around every turn and across every finish line.

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