John Travolta and Shania Twain Are in a Movie About Dirt Track Racing That Looks Just Awful (Updated)

Screenshot: Trading Paint (Saban)

The Trading Paint trailer dropped this week. It’s ostensibly about dirt track racing, but it pretty much looks like that Orange County Choppers meme played over guitar riffs and engine revving noises.

(Update: This has been updated with clarifications on the context of dirt track racing, Late Models, and Kevin Ward Jr.’s death in 2014.)

IMDb has the elevator pitch:

“Veteran race car driver Derek Bornt and his son, a fellow driver from a small town overcome family and professional conflicts, balancing competition, ego, resentment and a racing nemesis to come out stronger on the other side.”

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We can distill that down to: “greased up grown men act like children on-screen, as Hollywood decides to skip the nuance of a potentially interesting subculture in lieu of one-dimensional characters, tough guy tropes and some version of a ‘family means everything’ theme.”

Also, there’s that guy from Game of Thrones and one of the baddies from Kill Bill.

In real life, dirt track racing goes down all year all over America. Wikipedia calls it “the single most common form of auto racing in the United States,” of course there’s no citation to that statement so I won’t commit to it but it does suggest that this kind of racing is pretty common.

While we originally posited that dirt track, and circle track racing in general, does not seem to be growing as fast as some motorsports, like drifting, which went from being essentially unknown in America to having its own league in a pretty short period of time, there are clearly a good deal of dirt ovals still operating in America.

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Dirt track racing’s many classes and series’ have strong holdouts across the country—even as some dirt tracks face closure for various reasons.

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Competitors drive around an unpaved oval track, most notably either in Sprint Cars, which are open-wheeled machines which sometimes wear ridiculous looking asymmetrical roof spoilers (the cars only turn one direction, after all), or vehicles that look more like stock cars. But the cars in this movie look like what are called Late Models.

Screenshot: Trading Paint (Saban)
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We originally described Late Model cars as “not high-tech,” and so many readers emailed me that they were offended by that assessment that I felt compelled to come back and qualify it—they’re obviously not as technologically complex as Formula One or Le Mans cars, but these cars still have a great deal of engineering, science, and of lot of labor behind them keeping them running.

Though they look like primitive NASCAR cars with thin bodies wrapped around simple frames, Late Models are much faster than you’d think with an immense amount of horsepower and very little in the way of weight. They spit flames. They get sideways.

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Meanwhile the faster Sprint Cars, unfortunately, were most notably introduced to a lot of non-racing fans through national news when 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr. was tragically struck and killed by racing superstar Tony Stewart’s vehicle, after Ward had exited his vehicle and was standing on the course in the middle of competition. Dirt track racing in general is still popular though, and there are a lot more types of vehicles that run on unpaved ovals besides the two I mentioned.

For the record, not trying to dump on dirt track racers with the critiques of this trailer. Based on the clip, this movie may have more scenes of people throwing things than actual driving action.

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I’m going to go ahead and forget about Trading Paint until it inevitably shows up on the DVD rack at Rite-Aid. But I thought it was important that you know it exists anyway.

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About the author

Andrew P. Collins

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL