One of the best directors of IMAX films, Stephen Low (Titanica
) has always been a race fan. After obtaining permission from CART, a governing body of Indy car racing and Newman/Haas racing (a Championship team co-owned by Paul Newman), Low found his stars for Super Speedway
: the racing Andrettis, father Mario and son Michael. Mounting cameras fore and aft on the Andrettis' cars, IMAX offers a better vantage point than an ESPN camera, at a superior grade of clarity. Add to that the excellent sound and you can "feel" the bumps on the asphalt as the cars zoom in and out of corners. The large format can turn a pit stop into a dramatic 12 seconds as we see the driver's eyes dart away from his cockpit for a few brief seconds. We watch Michael Andretti on oval tracks and exciting road courses going over hills and sharp turns. There's even a spin--probably staged--from an angle we've never seen before.
Although true race conditions were impossible (the camera is just too bulky), Low sneakily edits his film to stretch the imagination. On race day, several Indy cars drove alongside the camera car hours before the main event, passing and drafting each other with crowds whizzing past them. When edited with footage of the race, it feels like the real thing. Low takes a few off-beat choices in setting up his story. The first image is the biggest chicken you've ever seen. The last shot is a '50s car (lovingly restored during the film) racing through perfect golden foliage on an autumn day. It gives his movie of modern technology a wonderful sense of nostalgia. --Doug Thomas
The "making of" documentary is nearly as long as the 50-minute IMAX feature itself. Any fan of the film will want to see how they made the incredible shots by attaching an 80-pound camera to a racecar. The documentary also shows us how the camera car was made competitive (they turned up its boost) and the troubles involved with filming at the Indy car manufacturer (the mechanics were wary of trade secrets being uncovered). The Mach II
edition remixes the powerful soundtrack in Dolby 5.1 or DTS sound and offers the option of a new widescreen anamorphic picture that comes close to the you-are- there IMAX feel. Two additional racing sequences are also shown for the first time. --Doug Thomas