Super Mario
Super Speedway (2-D Large Format)
Review by Ross Anthony

Don't expect this production to be like those big screen "rides" available at amusement parks or malls, something where a camera is mounted to the hood of a car, plane or skateboarder and you as the viewer are taken on a non-stop race around land, air and sea. Though elements of that push-to-the-limits speed appear in this film, "Super Speedway" is much more of a documentary than a ride. But it's a good one.

Appropriately, Paul Newman narrates this tale of the Indy Car. Watch as the Carl Haas and Paul Newman (Andretti) team designs a clay model Indy body which is translated into a mold by computer, then forged into fiberglass. Test drive the car along with Mike and father Mario Andretti. See how the aerodynamics of the design behave in a wind tunnel. Retired racing legend Mario Andretti speaks frankly about watching his son, while reminiscing with quips about the wild world of racing. He's very likable.

Then after all the testing and tuning and modifying ... Mike gets in the car and races. Cuts from at least 4 different events for that season are included - both defeats and victories. These "in the car" scenes make up roughly fifteen percent of the film -- good honest action, unexaggerated by film tricks.

The producers weave in a secondary story, that of a mechanic who restores a 1964 roadster. In the first scene of the film, a tractor pulls this rusted heap of a vehicle out of a barn. Chickens scurry and hay scatters. In the end, Mario Andretti climbs into the beautifully restored roadster (one he'd test-driven in the early years of his career).

Warm, entertaining, educational, professionally constructed, this is the first time I'd been able to appreciate and "feel" the reality of those speeds.

Facts from the production notes:
"Participation in the project reached a climax when the full support of CART and the teams was obtained to put virtually all the cars in the series on the track for the camera just moments prior to the start of actual races. Twenty-five cars and drivers blasted around courses in Toronto; Brooklyn, Michigan; Lexington, Ohio; and Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, just minutes prior to start of each event. This unprecedented exercise provided Mario Andretti and the production crew with a truly unique opportunity to record the racing experience from the driver's viewpoint.

"The camera car driven by Mario Andretti was a two year-old Indy car acquired from Newman/Haas and maintained by Newman/Haas mechanics. The same car was driven by Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansel in competition in the 1994 PPG CART World Series."

"While the engine output of competing CART cars is constrained by stringent rules, the camera car was not under similar restriction. Competing cars are equipped with a mandatory 'pop-off' valve which governs the maximum power engines can generate and helps keep race speeds within acceptable limits. The 'pop-off' valve on the camera car was deactivated, providing the machine with significant additional power. The aerodynamic design features of the older car also generated greater downforce than has been available to cars under more recent CART rules. (Downforce, the product of wings and body shape, is the aerodynamic force which helps keep a fast moving car pressed to the track)."

  • Super Speedway (2-D Large Format). Copyright © 2001.
  • Starring Don Lyons, Mario and Mike Andretti.
  • Directed by Stephen Low .
  • Andrew Kitzanuk Cinematographer.
  • Produced by Pietro Serapiglia.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:39 PDT