Jr. Dragsters Get Two Hours in the Sun
Movie Review by Phil R. Elliott
I just watched Right on Track, the made-for-TV movie on Junior Drag Racing. What else would I be doing on a Saturday night?
I heard from one of my very good friends who had just read a pre-showing review on the movie. He suggested it would be awful, or some such.
But, in spite of kinda lousy sound effects that used V-8 noises as the Briggs & Stratton singles launched, I really enjoyed the Disney-produced piece. Oh sure, most of the footage was done at Rocky Mountain Raceways, and painted up to look like a variety of more familiar tracks. And there were some aerial (stock) footage from several other venues, including IRP. But I don't feel it detracted from the overall feel of the production.
I have never been impressed with a drag race movie and this one fits that genre perfectly. BUT, this one is about a young girl that achieves her goals against severe odds. It is a story about a family -- a set of parents that teach their children well, not about racing but about fair play in all situations. Actually, the overall feel is not unlike Heart Like a Wheel, where a young woman faces an impossible situation and many male detractors, gives up virtually everything, and succeeds anyway. It is a movie of personal resolve. Dragracing -- in this case junior drag racing -- just happens to be the means.
The main star, Beverley Mitchell, who plays a teenage Erica Enders, is the only personality I was familiar with, that from many times sitting with my mom watching 7th Heaven where Ms. Mitchell plays Lucy Camden. I did not recognize Brie Larson (Courtney Enders), Jon Robert Lindstrom (dad, Gregg Enders) or any of the other characters. But everyone, including NHRA president Tom Compton, who made a cameo appearance in handing Erica, er, Beverley her championship trophy, did a good job.
Did the movie present the actual workings or costs of Jr. Dragster? No, but the Enders team did present a motor home and large trailer as support equipment so anyone looking in should realize there is cost involved. Did the movie speak to the $7,000-$10,000 cost for the little one-lunger powerplants, the length of the track or what any of the elapsed time or other numbers meant? No, no, no. Did it mention that both Erica and her younger sister Courtney have since stepped into full-scale racecars, or that the Jr. Dragster program has developed many very good drag race drivers? Nope. So, just like many other racing movies, Right on Track has, in my opinion, misrepresented or not represented its subject.
Nonetheless, in the way that horrible Hollywood piece Days of Thunder brought much outside focus to NASCAR, Right on Track will certainly introduce many to Jr. Dragster. Disney claims their network is available in more than 80 million homes, and I'll bet there is a great deal of child-to-parent pressure for Jr. Dragsters. Disney has scheduled several airings during March and April.
If the story of the real Erica Enders is even remotely as dramatic as this movie, I hope to meet her someday.
Right On Track will be televised on the Disney Channel on the following days at 8 p.m. (ET/PT): March 21 (premiere), March 22, March 23, March 25, March 31, April 9, and April 17.