When it comes to motorsports documentaries, I've always been partial to the gorgeously shot and meticulously edited Dust To Glory, which follows the 2003 running of the Baja 1000. I have to watch it every year, at least. Which other motorsports docs are must-see?
With Quentin Tarantino bringing the 1970 documentary The Racing Scene, which follows actor James Garner's racing team during the pivotal 1969 season, to The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles this week, it's fitting that we should consider other important motorsports documentaries that have dented our impressionable minds. For me, Dust To Glory is the one.
Director Dana Brown follows in the footsteps of his dad Bruce, whom pop-culture aficionados know as the director of the 1964 surf-culture chronicle The Endless Summer. That film's casual style informed countless docs that came after. The younger Brown also delved into surf culture, in The Endless Summer Revisited (2000) and the big-wave epic, Step Into Liquid (2003), before taking on Baja. [Lest we forget, Brown the elder is also known in motorcycling circles for his Oscar-nominated 1971 documentary epic, On Any Sunday.]
Dust To Glory tells the story of the Baja 1000 largely through a dramatic narrative, that of Mouse McCoy, whose attempt to ride all 1000 miles by himself — rather than swapping places with a co-rider every 250 miles — underpins the film's stunning cinematography. Visually, Dust To Glory owes a debt to Warren Miller, who pioneered, and continues to refine, action-sports filmmaking through the extensive use of helicopter shots to create a visual intimacy between landscape, athlete and viewer.
Director of photography, Kevin Ward, a former Baja racer, managed the Herculean task of capturing the eye-popping footage that makes Dust To Glory a cinematic event. (Production nerds will want to read this 2004 interview with the director and principal crew on DigitalProducer.com for more on how they handled such a complex undertaking.)