"Racing Dreams": New PBS Documentary Film Highlights Three Young Racers

By Larry Edsall

“When you are 11 or 12, your whole life is filled with people telling you what to do,” says 11-year-old Annabeth Barnes. “But when you’re racing you make your own decisions... You’re totally independent.”

Barnes races go-karts. She is one of three young racers featured in “Racing Dreams,” a documentary film to be broadcast nationally February 23 on PBS’s POV (Point of View) series.

If you can’t catch that Thursday broadcast, the movie will be streamed from February 24-March 24 on the www.pbs.org/pov/racingdreams website.


“Racing Dreams” won the best documentary feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and director and producer Marshall Curry has been nominated for the documentary feature Oscar for “If a Tree Falls,” which last year took honors at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Racing Dreams,” I’m told, has been described as “Talladega Nights meets Catcher in the Rye” and it follows Barnes, Josh Hobson and Brandon Warren as they compete in the World Karting Association’s Pavement Series, racing an inch off the pavement at speeds up to 70 miles per hour, racing toward what they see as the ultimate dream -- NASCAR.

But they also are learning the line between dream and nightmare can be faint.

Barnes is from Hiddenite, North Carolina. She’s also from a family that’s been racing “since back in the moonshine days,” she says. While she likes the independence she feels on the track, she admits the travel and time away from a “regular” teenager’s life can be stressful.

Hobson, 12, is from Flint, Michigan. The film highlights not only his racing, but what it costs his family to keep those wheels beneath him.

Warren, 13, is from Creedmoor, North Carolina, and admits “If I’m not racing, I’m not happy,” in part because of his parents’ problems. Warren, who lives with his grandparents, also has problems, especially with his temper.


“As the tour unfolds,” the POV press release reads, “the three young racers step from the sheltered world of childhood into adolescence -- discovering romance for the first time, questioning their relationships with their parents and glimpsing the serious obstacles that will threaten their ability to achieve their dreams.”

Curry says that while the move’s theme is motorsports, “it’s really as much a story about adolescence and that amazing chapter of our lives as it is a story about going fast.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary for PBS’s POV series, which is American television’s longest-running independent documentary film series.

Read more of Larry at www.izoom.com.