We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 73 days to go, Jeff Vrabel continues exploring the many tie-ins between the Indy 500 and pop culture.
There are countless movies about auto racing, and 75 percent of them star Paul Newman. But racing’s biggest cinematic proponent is absent in “Turbo,” the 2013 CGI whiz-bang feature about an underdog driver who dreams of becoming the greatest racer in the world and taking the checkered flag at the Indy 500, a task made only slightly more complicated by the fact that he is a snail. (He’s played by Ryan Reynolds and spends the movie battling his brother, played by the always-magnificent-even-as-a-snail Paul Giamatti. The voice cast also includes Michael Pena, Snoop Dogg and Samuel L. Jackson, who we sort of can’t believe haven’t been in a live-action movie together yet.) So yeah, it’s pretty much “The Fast and the Furious” with snails. Frankly, we’re kicking ourselves for not thinking of this first.
In the movie, Turbo dreams of following in the footsteps, or whatever it is snails leave (slime, right? we’re pretty sure it’s slime) of his hero, five-time Indianapolis 500 champion Guy Gagne. Something happens wherein Turbo’s DNA gets mixed with nitrous oxide (listen, we’re just reporting here, people), and Turbo becomes the Fastest Snail In All of California, enabling him to fulfill his dream in spite of the funny looks from the other snails, who are suspicious of his powers. There’s a race, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the ending or anything.
Here’s the cool part: To make the movie, DreamWorks partnered with Hulman and Company on the racing scenes, to ensure as much authenticity as possible when dealing with nitrous-fueled snails. Technical consulting was furnished by none other than Dario Franchitti. These days, “Turbo” now exists as a cartoon series on Netflix called “Turbo FAST,” or, as my 4-year-old calls it, “The Snail Movie.”