by Dean Case, Gearhead Motorsports Advisor
editors note: Join the California Automobile Museum for a special showing of the movie August 24, 2019 at 11 am in Sacramento. Proceeds to benefit the Museum
Disclosure: I consider Garth Stein to be a friend, having first met him a decade ago. I first read the Art of Racing in the Rain in 2008 along with my Mazda Motorsports teammates at the time. We all loved the book. We loved it enough to cold call Garth and invite him to race an MX-5 Cup car in Portland. Jim Jordan loved it enough to urge/nag/push Patrick Dempsey into reading it, telling him he should option the movie rights. He did. It then took a decade to get it approved, funded, shot, edited, and on August 9th, released.
My comments will NOT include any spoilers, but thanks to a KCET Cinema Series event, I watched the film last week with a theater full of hardcore film buffs. They loved it as did I.
I purposely did NOT reread the book before seeing the movie. My fear was that if I did, I would nitpick the movie anytime it failed to follow the exact storyline of the book. It is not the exact storyline, but it follows the spirit of the book closely, and Enzo gets the best lines in the movie.
A few thoughts to consider.
The movie stands on it’s own. Every race fan should see it. Take the dog lover in your life to see it. And if they haven’t read the book, buy them a copy of the book and take them to a real race. If you teared up while reading the book, expect the same when you see the movie. If you did not tear up reading the book, what is wrong with you?
Remember that the book and movie are FICTION. Racing is the backdrop, and racers loved the fact that Garth nailed the details in the book. I recall no less of a motorsports authority than Leo Mehl telling me that Garth captured Aryton Senna’s personality perfectly. Garth never met Aryton, but he understands racers.
Like everything in life, the movie producers had a budget to work within and a schedule to maintain. Someone had to balance the cost of real cars vs CGI, especially if a crash scene was a part of the story line. Here’s a minor spoiler – there is no big crash in the Art of Racing in the Rain. That’s a good thing to me. Racing was portrayed as a serious profession, one where it is very difficult to succeed, but dramatic crashes? None. They hired Jeff Zwart to shoot all of the racing scenes, so race fans should love the track action, but they will likely want more. Would that have been cool for race fans? Yes. Would it have made for a better movie? No.
I’m pretty certain the number of “dog people” who read the Art of Racing In The Rain vastly outnumbers the “car people”. A movie like this, with a positive depiction of racing, will hopefully bring in new fans. Race fans who loved the Steve McQueen “Le Mans” movie ignore the fact that it tanked at the box office and did not appeal to anyone who wasn’t a hardcore race fan or Steve McQueen fan. It was two hours of amazing cinematography without any real story. “Le Mans” was an argument against studios doing racing movies for many years.
For me the “best” non-documentary racing movie was “Grand Prix” as it balanced story, acting, action, casting, cinematography, soundtrack and everything else that makes a movie great. It appealed to race fans and non-race fans. I also liked “Rush” even though I thought it was s dumb title.
I would argue the most “significant” racing movie was “Winning” as that started the amazing race career of the one we knew as PL Newman in the paddock. Fingers crossed that Milo Ventimiglia or Amanda Seyfried decides to follow in the footsteps of Paul Newman or Patrick Dempsey. Not likely, but we can hope.
Final thoughts. I was really surprised at the lack of product placements. Given the nature of the sport, I expected a lot. It was almost non-existent. Denny even races at “Laguna Seca” and I am happy about that.
My only complaint on the movie was that Enzo is seen being adopted from a puppy mill (that’s not a spoiler as it’s in the trailer). I wanted him to be a shelter dog. The producer who did Q&A at the screening I attended, said the dogs used in the move were actually rescue dogs, so I’ll take that as a win.
Back in 2008 there was a rumor that NASCAR wanted the movie version to be altered to make Denny a stock car racer. It was joked that the movie would then become “The Art of Standing in the Garage, Waiting for the Rain to Stop”
GO SEE THE MOVIE. BUY A FRIEND A COPY OF THE BOOK. TAKE A FRIEND TO A RACE.
Yup! Gearhead Magazines for only $1 plus shipping! Now until Sept. 3, 2018. No need to enter a code. Just select the issues you want, head to check out and voila, they will be on their way to your mail box, where you can lay in the shade, sipping a cold one and get caught up with one of the coolest magazines around. Shop dog Dooly says "What are you waiting for?!" Go Shopping Now!
A few days before Gearfest 2017, I sat down with the reigning Ms. Gearhead 2016, Beth Hood aka Tattoo Betty to talk about her experiences and passions. Photos by Roger Neria and Michelle Haunold Thanks to So Cal Speed Shop for giving us a great place for this photo shoot!
But first, a little bit of personal stuff about her:
Birthday: Aug 3 1983, Leo
Favorite band: Hank 3
Favorite Drink: Jameson straight with a Pineapple back
Favorite Food: Crab
Not currently seeing anyone
2 kids: Robbie 9 (loves skateboarding) and 4 year old JR (the happiest kid ever!)
GH: What prompted you to enter the Ms. Gearhead contes?
TB: I liked that it was at a punk show and not a super traditional contest. You were looking for personality, not beauty, you know inward beauty, not just outward beauty. There was substance to the questions.
GH: You were selected as our Ms. Gearhead 2016. What did that feel like when your name was announced?
TB: It was super awesome, it was exciting!
GH: How would you explain your role as Ms. Gearhead?
TB: I’ve stopped by the booth at a lot of the events you’ve been at. It has been nice to just support and say hi to people whenever I could. I usually have the kids with me, so it’s pretty busy, and I can’t stay long, but that was fun. It was really fun doing the photo shoot and being connected to the whole company in general.
GH: I like to think of Ms. Gearhead being the more social part of Gearhead, to help spread the word about women being involved with the company, not just guys.
TB: I loved that you were excited and wanted me to stop by. I loved that when I was at Viva that you posted that Ms. Gearhead was at Viva, that was really exciting to me
GH: Tell me a bit about your personal life, who you are, what you do, and what you’re passionate about?
TB: I’m passionate about art! I’m a tattoo artist so everything I do is creative. I’m also really athletic. I love skateboarding with my son. And playing baseball with him. He’s got a great arm, so I’m trying to nurture that. And punk shows! And I love cooking too. I’m a big cook; I love cooking everything.
GH: I love cooking too! It’s one of my creative outlets.
GH: Wow, that’s a long time! What else are you passionate about?TB: Cooking is an art! It’s one of those arts that people don’t really care about anymore.
GH: You mentioned you are a tattoo artist. Tell me about how that started.
TB: I’ve always been into art, my whole life. My 7th grade art teacher had me teaching the class. And I did AP art in high school so I got college credit for art. I knew I wanted to do something art related. My parents wouldn’t help me with art college. I had someone offer me an apprenticeship at a tattoo shop and I thought, oh my God, that’s super cool! I never realized that was an option. My parents then offered to help me with college, but I’m pretty spiteful, and I said no, I’m going to do this tattoo thing. And I’m glad I did. Otherwise Id’ be working for the man, and that’s no fun.
GH: How long have you been a tattoo artist?
TB: 12 years !
GH: Wow, that’s a long time! What else are you passionate about?
TB: My kids. My kids are my life.
GH: Do you do art with your kids? Yes, my youngest one is really into art, so we draw and paint together. My oldest doesn’t like to sit still for that, he’s the athletic one, so I really just work with the younger one. Some day I’d really like to open a non-profit art school for kids and really work with kids using art as a way to help them grow and think for themselves.
GH: That’s great! Ms. Gearhead is about being of service and using your gifts to help others. An art based non-profit for kids sounds great!
TB: Yeah, I think about it a lot. And I hope to get it started sooner than later.
GH: Anything else you’d like to share with the Gearhead readers?
TB: Yes, ladies, don’t be shy about entering the Ms. Gearhead contest! It’s so much fun, it’s really rewarding, and it is not about how you look but who you are.
There you have it. Ms. Gearhead is fun, playful, creative, passionate and shines her own light. Ladies, if you are interested but afraid to enter, this is your heads up that is more reason than ever to join us Sat. Sept. 30, 2017. To make it easier, this year’s theme is Rosie The Riveter! Dress up as you would imagine her to look today, or dress as the vintage Rosie did! Everyone gets the same question: How are Rosie’s qualities of service, passion, creativity, ingenuity All proceeds to benefit the Sacramento Friends of the River.
As we wind down to the end of 2016, and the holiday festivities rev up, looking back on this past year starts to occupy more of my thoughts. It has been an incredible year of creativity, growth, new relationships and business opportunities. But first, let me just get this out in the open: yes, I am hoping you’ll consider giving the gift of Gearhead product this holiday season. It is not too late. Read on for freebies and last minute sales!
The year began with the long-awaited issue No. 19 of Gearhead Magazine. If you missed it, you can still buy physical copies to flip through at the discounted rate of $3 now until 12/31/16. For those of you who dig the digital format, get your FREE digital copy to peruse at your leisure! Click here to download now. Ends 12/31/16.
New t-shirts and accessories have abounded this year as well, necessitating extensive appearances at various car shows including the infamous Viva Las Vegas and Mooneyes Xmas show. Check out the photos on Instagram and Facebook.
Taking a break from May through July, a litter of corgi pups made a guest appearance, produced by shop dog Twix. Gearhead went on hiatus until these little rascals were old enough to go to their new forever homes. Miss Cool Luci Fur stayed behind to become the newest Gearhead Mascot, joining Dooly and Twix in patrolling the grounds and protecting the shop. I posted a day-by-day update on my personal Facebook; Click here for pictures! It was alot of work, but one of the most rewarding productions I've been involved in.
Gearfest 2016 rocked at the end of September with knock out performances by the reformed Red Planet, Roxy Suicide (featuring Dave from The Mansfields) Pat Todd and the Rankoutsiders (former Lazy Cowgirls), Sacramento’s Troublemakers and a guest performance by Leesa G from The Creamers. Hot rods, and a Ms. Gearheadcontest rounded out the outstanding night. There will be a series of videos coming to You Tube in 2017, I promise. But till then, check out the photos here.
Renewing relationships with some of our best retail customers rounded out the rest of this year. Click here for a full list of stores carrying GEARHEAD products.
I firmly believe in celebrating the famed Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s so much more fun to get gifts through out the end of the year. According to the Music Business Association, Compact Discs are still the most popular music gift given at Christmas! Stuff your stockings with some good ol’ rock & roll; many Gearhead Compact Discs are now only $2! This sale ends Monday Dec. 26, 2016 so order today!
Back issues of Gearhead Magazine are also on sale for $1 so stock up and have some weird and wild stuff to read while you hang out for the holidays! This incredible deal lasts through the end of the year, 12/31/16.
And finally, all orders placed will receive a free digital download card stuff with great GEARHEAD music, as well as a reusable tote bag, while supplies last!
Thank you all for sharing this ride with me. I am grateful for the support you have shown through out the year. Your wonderful letters and purchases this year have fueled this journey and I can’t wait for the fun stuff coming in 2017, including some new records, a new magazine and some killer new threads.
Wishing you all a very happy prosperous holiday season filled with joy and health, and remember,
Live Fast, Be Weird!
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,