Offerings to the Gods of Speed: A Documentary Proposal
The following is a proposal for my documentary, “Offerings to the Gods of Speed.” I’m currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.com and looking forward to directing my first feature length documentary.
History of Obsession
We have an obsession with speed. We look at the mechanical marvel of automobile and wonder at the ways we could modify of it, to make the car better and faster. Play with engineering of this invention that was meant to, just replace the hoarse and buggy. We always wanted to make it better than what it was ever meant to have. In 1769, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built what would be considered the first automobile, a steam powered tricycle. It would be more than one hundred years later, in 1879 that the “modern” automobile would be built by Karl Benz. Karl Benz, at the time never envisioned what would become of his invention. Along with other pioneers, he perhaps created one of the defining inventions of the twentieth century. Highways would be built to support the millions of automobile around the world and be relied on in everyday life. It wasn’t soon after the creation of automobile that we began testing its limits.
In 1887, the first auto race was held, a simple 2-kilometer race then in 1902 the first origination for land speed records was created, the Automobile club de France. Since then, we became obsessed with our cars, to make them faster. Large cathedrals of speed were built, the likes of which, where never imagined by the automobile’s inventors. We took to beaches to set land speed records, eventually finding the legendary Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats, where a long ten mile long course could be laid out. Here we would create purpose built cars that would accelerate to speeds faster then six hundred miles an hour. In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500 was held, where cars needed to last five hundred miles to win and with it the names of Foyt, Unser, Andretti, and Mears became legendary. In the 1950’s, two racing giants were born, Formula One and Nascar, where hundreds of thousands where gathered to watch drivers compete. In Formula One, drivers would dream of winning on the streets of Monaco and in Nascar, the high banks of Daytona.
But why speed? Why the obsession? Why the risk to our lives? Is it the engineering challenges or is it the adrenaline rush? Or is it something completely different? We all have this obsession of going faster. Who hasn’t gone over the speed limit?
But why? It’s a questions that I’ve pondered most of my life, because I don’t understand why, I have that same obsession. To get this answer, I must travel to these “cathedrals to speed” and travel with the men and women that live at the extreme spectrum of speed. Around 1993, this obsession began for me when I was eight or nine years old. For fathers day in mid 90’s we use to go to Michigan International Speedway, for the then Winston Cup Series race and my dad brought my mother and I up to the grandstands to watch cup practice. We entered the front grandstands near the tunnel entrance to the infield and we walked along the catch fence, which is not allowed any more for obvious safety concerns. We were passed by a racecar right at the spot where the drivers lifted off of the gas peddle and dove down into turn one. The car was going nearly two hundred mile-an-hour and was just four or five feet away from us. I watched with amazement, deer in the headlight look in my eyes, as this car dove down into turn one. In that half of a second, I was in love with racing.
What was it about that moment that mesmerized me? That’s what I want to ask others be in race drivers or mega fans such as myself. I will seek out the men and women that have is obsession and ask them, why speed? What is it about these vehicles that were devisees to get us from one place to another, that we think we need to make them faster?
Right now, is the perfect time to bring this subject to the screen, because auto racing is going through a renaissance. Due to pressures on auto manufactures stemming from oil dependence and global warming. There are even organizations that are building racecars and even entire racing series that using that are exploring alternative fuels. Quimera Responsible Racing has been developing race cars, and built a concept racecar capable of seven hundred-horsepower. In 2014, a new racing series Formula E, the first all electric racing series will begin competition. On the Bonneville Salt Flats, there are electric and Hydrogen cars competing for land speed records. Formula One and Indy Car have both decreased the size of their engines from V8’s to V6’s, with Formula One eventually going to run a four cylinder engine, all in an effort to decrease emissions. Nascar has change over to using electronic fuel injection, reduced horsepower and the fuel used in their cars in the same efforts.
With global warming at the center of change in the auto industry, a lot of people feel the changes it will bring will destroy the thing they love the most the hot rod and the race car. Will these concerns and changes really destroy it? We’ll find out in, “Offerings to the Gods of Speed and the changing world,” a feature length documentary about the obsession of speed and with the automobile. We will follow the people at the very hart of the culture in hot rodding, racing, and the people that are striving to preserve the culture in a new era for the automobile.