A new documentary on the unofficial “little league” of NASCAR, entitled “Racing Dreams,” directed by Marshall Curry, has received praise from reviewers writing for The New York Times, Variety, and Movie|Line. The movie shadows three hopeful race car professionals on and off of the track ranging from ages 11 to 13, and ponders the roots of their respective passions for the sport. Critics agree that the resulting film is less about car racing than a brand of American youth, which is both poignant and well-crafted.
Michelle Orange, writing for Movie|Line writes: “Slick without feeling over-determined, Racing Dreams evokes… the more general feeling of childhood on the precipice. I still don’t think being a NASCAR driver is the greatest job in the world; I can’t even say that I developed a new perspective on racing, or became gravely invested in the outcome of each race. I came to care about those kids, though, very much indeed. I wanted whatever dreams they had — whether they involved first-place trophies or first kisses — to come as true as they possibly could.” Similarly, Ronnie Scheib for Variety says: “Half lean, mean racing saga and half in-depth character study, “Racing Dreams” is a dynamite docu about three kids vying for the National Championship of the World Karting Assn…[T]he perceptively balanced “Dreams” transitions seamlessly from domestic drama to 70-mph heats.”
While Stephen Holden of the New York Times expresses a desire for more information on the practice of racing itself, he also admires the films approach to it’s subject matter. He describes the film as the “unusual sports movie that is more interested in the lives of children on the verge of adolescence than in giving viewers the cheap thrill of vicarious competition and heaping glory on the winners.”