Driven [2001]

Driven to Win is billed as "an inside look at NASCAR's rising stars," and it delivers on that promise with in-depth profiles of many of the many of the youngest, most promising drivers on the oval track circuits. Originally broadcast on the Biography channel, and boasting the polished production values one would expect from that prestigious venue, the series uses action-packed NASCAR footage, personal interviews with friends, family, and colleagues, and detailed background histories to provide informative and inspiring portraits of NASCAR's next generation of champions. For younger NASCAR fans, this is like five hours of fast, colorful hero worship, filled with down-to-earth biographical detail. For parents of NASCAR fans who may fear their children's enthusiasm for such a potentially dangerous motor sport, Driven to Win serves as a welcome survey of brave, determined young men (and women) whose competitive success is largely due to parental support and encouragement. Risk is acknowledged, but the passion evident in these profiles makes it clear that most of NASCAR's young winners are truly driven to win, with a "need for speed" that developed at a very early age. Not surprisingly, fast-rising driver Kasey Kahne is profiled in the premiere episode, but there's plenty of highlights in subsequent episodes, from the Erin Crocker's rise in Sprint cars to becoming the first female driver to win the Outlaw series, to former football star Reggie White's dream to identify up-and-coming minority driving talent and help to start their climb to NASCAR's victory lane. To that end, profiles of White's first African American team driver, Chris Bristol, and 15-year-old Marc Davis (in NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program) are clear indications that NASCAR entered the 21st century ready, willing, and able to broaden its horizons, both behind the wheel and in the ever-more-crowded grandstands. As testament to the phenomenal revival of NASCAR above and beyond its so-called "redneck" roots, Driven to Win is a superior series that will, in later years, offer a fascinating look back at the youthful highlights of tomorrow's oval-track legends. Bonus features include Q&A with the drivers, easy access to capsule-length biographies, and a "NASCAR Behind the Scenes" featurette. --Jeff Shannon

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