Driven to Win cover

STUDIO: The Biography Channel
MSRP: $24.95
RUNNING TIME: 4 Hours, 46 Minutes
Behind-the-scenes featurette
"Hot Laps" Q & A segment
Driver bios

The Pitch

meets those films they show you in grade school when it’s
raining outside and the teachers don’t want to deal with muddy bastards for the
rest of the day, you horrible creatures!"

The Humans

collection of Nascar’s hottest (?) young stars, including Kasey Kahne, Greg
Biffle, Carl Edwards, Erin Crocker, and other people we could have gone our
whole lives without ever hearing about.

The Nutshell

Biography channel presents twenty-minute segments on each of these drivers,
spread across two discs. Or, rather, Nascar presents the Biography channel presents…
fuck it, one more try: The marketing people at Nascar present some commercials
that they paid good money for, I guess.

The Lowdown

You can
often judge the merit of a piece of non-fiction on whether it captivates an
audience that had no prior interest in the subject. For example: I am not a
scholar of crump. It is a foreign word to me, and represents a foreign world
that doesn’t offer much, experientially, to a twenty-something white man from
the cowboy regions. However, David LaChapelle’s Rize engaged me,
cerebrally and viscerally, and turned out to be one of my favorite experiences
of 2005.

Gaze ye upon the most appealing thing about Nascar.

I’m not
going to make fun of Nascar, here. I’ve got no real investment in whether or
not its fans breathe through their mouths, nor if they use "Wal-Mart"
as a synonym for "fine dining." I also have no interest in Nascar as
a sport. Sounds like the perfect recipe for an edifying, non-fiction televised

Nope. I
still don’t care about Nascar. I care less about the people behind the
overlarge helmets, because they as
individuals don’t crash and explode dramatically. Driven to Win fails
completely to engage an audience beyond its own niche choir, and is
disappointing inasmuch as an outsider can comment.

individual segments, each about twenty-minutes, play like commercials. They’re
shallow and feature so little human drama that you’ve got to wonder how
plasticized the Nascar corporate machine has made them when they’re off the track
if they’re this bad while on it.

Stand by. I’m gonna make the jump to light speed.

All of
which goes to support my theory that all professional racing sports would be way
more fun to watch if a steel wall leapt up from the finish line at every lap
right in the path of whichever cars are in the last two places at the time.
Using this method, I believe any of the 500 lap races could be shortened to
somewhere around a dozen. And if that
doesn’t even interest you, then I’m afraid you’re better off looking to writers
more talented than I am, someone who can really make the idea of a death race
appeal to more than just us hobbyists.

The Package

All the
footage that isn’t in the interview segments looks like a special kind of
pixilated ass. It may not have looked healthy on the trip to the television
screen, but it got mangled beyond repair during its airlift to DVD. It’s gross
on an HD set, and only slightly more tolerable on standard def.

There are
a few bonuses of note: a Nascar behind-the-scenes featurette that will teach
you exactly how much of an art form the race is; an additional series of Q
& As with selected drivers; and some
driver bios, which seem awfully superfluous given that this is an entire show
predicated on displaying the biographies of drivers.

3 out of 10