ARGABRIGHT: Dirt-Track Racing Gets Its Screen Test

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The new film ‘We Are Dirt’ covers multiple forms of dirt racing, from sprint cars to motorcycles. (Dick Ayers Photo)
Dave Argabright
Dave Argabright

INDIANAPOLIS — It is perhaps the most comprehensive look at dirt racing in a medium that has never embraced the sport in any real measure.

Full-length cinema is nothing new to Americans. We’ve all been to the movies and we’ve all watched films on television. But “We Are Dirt” is the first serious film focused on the world of dirt-track racing, and thus far it has received a warm and enthusiastic reception within the sport.

With a runtime of one hour and 42 minutes, “We Are Dirt” is a significant look at the people and the passion that drive the sport. It is far beyond a crash-and-burn highlight reel, as it takes an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the sport and the emotions that propel it.

The project is the brainchild of Jesse Douglas, a videographer from Medford, Ore. As he worked in video production at various dirt tracks in recent years, Douglas began cultivating the idea of a full-length film.

“We originally were making short films and promos, creative things like that,” Douglas said. “We wanted to create a buzz and make something that would appeal to a very broad audience, and that includes a younger crowd as well. I toyed with the idea of making a documentary centered on racing, a short film.

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“A friend and I kicked the idea around and that night I went home and finished a trailer about a short film and posted it on Facebook. By noon the next day it had a tremendous number of views, and that opened my eyes. It was obvious to me that the dirt-track community has been wanting to see a full-length film for a very long time.”

Douglas began building the infrastructure that would be needed for a large-scale project. Production began in December 2014 during the Winter Heat sprint car event at Cocopah Speedway near Yuma, Ariz., and over the next year Douglas and crew amassed interviews and footage from a wide array of tracks and venues.

This is not a sprint car film, or a late model film, or a motorcycle film. It is truly a dirt-racing film, encompassing a wide cross section of American dirt-track racing.

“People have done documentaries about other forms of motorsports, but never anything focused on dirt-track racing,” says Douglas. “That was a driving force with us and with the film. We wanted to give the people of dirt-track racing a voice and allow them to help others understand their passion for the sport.”

Almost 50 years ago the film “On Any Sunday” debuted, instantly becoming a cult classic within the motorcycle community. Praise for the film endures yet today and people often cite the film as a catalyst for the popularity enjoyed by motorcycle racing in the years following the film’s release.

“We Are Dirt” is similarly positioned today. The film is a first-class production. It is entertaining and it is enlightening. A novice will find the sport intriguing, as will a lifelong fan of dirt racing. The film can be purchased on Vimeo On-Demand and is available on DVD from www.wearedirtmovie.com.

Douglas has been heartened by the positive reviews the film has received  and by the early commercial success of the project. “We Are Dirt” is only the beginning, according to Douglas.

“We want to create a franchise where we can make a movie every year,” he says. “We’re already in production for the next film, which will delve a little deeper in some forms of the sport, and also broaden to look at some segments that we didn’t touch on in the first film.”

“We Are Dirt” is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining film. Queue it up in your living room or on your phone. Then prepare to dodge the flying dirt.