In 2016, a camera crew followed the four teams Hendrick Motorsports fields in the NASCAR Cup Series. A team of six people, four on camera, two on audio caught the action every week from various angles with behind the scenes footage from GoPros and state of the art cameras. The story encapsulates Chase Elliott’s Daytona 500 pole win, Dale Jr. and Kasey Kahne’s pressure to win and Jimmie Johnson’s sought after seventh championship — all at 200 mph.
The essence of the documentary was not to capture race footage, rather market pre-race preparations of the crew members, inside and out happenings and team to expose an audience to NASCAR, not to just see the action, but give it a personality.
The camera crew had to sneak into various places to drop a time lapse video, synchronize up to 20 different audio tracks with camera footage only using headphones, and edit every race. According to MovieMaker.com, each race took about three weeks to compile. Among one of the many challenges faced was managing audio bits without the corresponding visuals — essential blindness and a nightmare.
One unique perspective put into play during the documentary was ‘fan duty’. Fan duty was the exploration of storylines to run counter to the race-day team productions. Like any other sport, NASCAR fans are just as passionate and the love for their driver radiates immensely from the stands and campgrounds at any given race track. The crew ended up finding a young fan who disliked then six-time champion Jimmie Johnson. The anti-Johnson narrative was so good during the week that he was given major audio parts.
Director Cynthia Hill’s motive was direct: “Stock car racing is an essential part of the American fabric. My team and I wanted to demystify the sport and its unique culture while celebrating the rich personalities whose lives intersect on race day.”
Unique culture goes hand in hand with the story and the team. Hendrick Motorsports is the most successful NASCAR Cup Series team ever, and the culture there cannot be rivaled. Only on location, behind the scenes footage can catch a glimpse of the success.
The camera crew is not of big name, but their dedication and desire to produce the best work prevailed, just like Hendrick Motorsports on the racetrack. Although the crew was new to NASCAR, the documentary garnered attention across social media platforms with thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.
The eight-part documentary is now available on Complex Networks go90.
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