Race fan or not, Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ is a must-see

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Ron Howard’s F1 movie Rush, which tells the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s rivalry in 1976, was always going to ask two major questions of racing fans.

First, whether the racing scenes would deliver action and authenticity in equal measure. And second, whether it could keep you on the edge of your seat despite the likelihood that you know from the start how it ends.

As far as the racing action goes they’ve done a superb job – though not totally a successful one. The cars look stunning and sound like the end of the world – the howling Ferrari V12 grabs you by the throat through cinema speakers.

The action is superbly realized, particularly in the case of Lauda’s crash, which is re-enacted in terrifying detail. The downside is that some of the old tracks are not perfectly recreated. But you have to give credit to Howard and his production team for what they were able to achieve with a less-than-blockbuster budget.

The story is retold a rapid pace, yet even though it breaks the two-hour mark some details had to be omitted – the first-lap crash and Hunt’s disqualification at Brands Hatch being a notable example.

But scriptwriter Peter Morgan has made some judicious choices about what to leave out and what to keep in, creating a taut, gripping story which ticks the boxes marked ‘glamour’, ‘action’ and ‘sex’ (the last one is checked several times thanks to Hunt’s infamous exploits).

MORE: Check out “Rush: Inside Racing’s Greatest Rivalry”, the free eBook available for iPad

Chris Hemsworth makes a smoldering Hunt but it’s Daniel Bruhl who steals the show as the brusque, lovably unlovable Lauda. If there’s one important thing the film makers get right it’s the fundamental respect which lies beneath the rivalry between the pair, while avoiding the Hollywood impulse to pigeonhole them as ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy.

Rush is not a pedantically accurate re-telling of the 1976 season – we have video reviews and documentaries for that. It is an energetic and thoroughly enjoyable movie which F1 fans and motor racing illiterates can both enjoy.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.