Go, Judge Paul Corupe, go!
"Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Be there! Be there! Be there!"
While drag racing events remain an enormously popular North American pastime, they can be a game of patience for spectators. Long lulls in the action are common, and when the Christmas tree finally turns green, a whirlwind few seconds of unbridled speed are an audience's only reward. Since dragsters need to cool down and receive essential maintenance in between heats, breaks in the action eventually gave birth to a new class of vehicles—exhibition cars.
As opposed to competition dragsters, exhibition cars are meant to thrill and titillate a crowd with displays of piston-popping power. Often resembling a pyrotechnical show on wheels, these vehicles feature big engines, gaudy paintjobs, fire-spitting chrome pipes, and a whole lot of nitro-powered entertainment.
Lightyear's DVD of Track Extreme is a re-edited episode of a syndicated hot rod television program called Nitro Warriors, hosted by famed drag racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits and motorsports artist Kenny Youngblood. Through the course of their 60-minute program, Garlits and Youngblood take the viewer on a full V.I.P. tour of the world of exhibition cars, including jet and rocket cars, wheelstanders, fuel altereds, nitro funny cars, and the so-called "hot rods from hell."
Highlights include the fastest street legal car in existence, the "Green Mamba"—a jet car that uses a flame-throwing engine to incinerate junkers—and a "Triple Jet Truck," a big rig outfitted with an amazing three jet engines. Particularly interesting are the fuel altereds—nitro powered front-engine coupes that ricochet across the quarter mile under a haze of smoke. Even when they're just idling, these cars nervously leap in every direction, giving the impression of instability and danger.
To bridge between narrated segments, Track Extreme launches into upbeat musical montage sequences, occasionally recycling footage already scene. That was annoying enough, but one of these montages had me completely baffled by showing some kind of dirtbike derby with guys on cycles inexplicably knocking each other into the guardrails. Some explanation would have been nice, as I had absolutely no idea what this was supposed to be.
The quality of the presentation is another disappointment. Soft, artifact-ridden video is the name of the game, and an extremely tinny stereo tracks robs all the power from the engine noise and the musical soundtrack. Several older interviews included in the show sound like they were done through a crackly phone line, and as a result, I had to adjust the volume repeatedly through this disc. No extras are included, and the menu itself is just a "chapter select" screen.
Although a little on the short side of things, Track Extreme is at least professionally put together, with diverse footage edited together for a fast-paced dose of racetrack excitement. Exhibition cars are essentially the "sideshow" acts at a drag race, and they certainly are amusing. If you are only looking for one drag racing DVD to add to your collection, you could certainly do a lot worse than Track Extreme.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Lightyear Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2004 Paul Corupe; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.