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Trailer: New film “Rapid Response” explores CART’s years of living dangerously


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The late Professor Sid Watkins detailed how Formula 1 responded to the horrors of Imola 1994 and other fatalities in ‘Life at the Limit’ and ‘Beyond the Limit’, two books which are essential reading for fans of the sport.

In 2006 Dr Stephen Olvey did the same for the world of CART racing – now IndyCar – in Rapid Response. In many ways, that championship led the way in areas F1 later followed, partly due to the inevitably higher risks associated with racing on ovals, especially superspeedways.

A film documentary version of Rapid Response is now set for release later this year. The first trailer for the film is below; viewers should be advised it does contain some footage of fatal accidents.

Though its subject matter makes it a tough read in places, Rapid Response is also enlightening and entertaining. It chronicles the innovations made to protect drivers as well as the on-the-scene rescue efforts following major crashes. Undoubtedly the most impressive of these was Alex Zanardi’s from his horror crash at the Lausitzring in 2001, in which both his legs were severed.

The book also shed fascinating light on the circumstances which led CART to cancel its race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001, after drivers blacked out during practice due to the high G-forces they were sustaining. This came as the championship was falling into decline following the split between it and the Indy Racing League, promoters of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have to wait until later this year to discover whether the film version of Rapid Response lives up to the high standards set by the excellent book. It arrives in UK cinemas on September 6th. Look out for a review on RaceFans ahead of its release.

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Rapid Response (2019) trailer

Please be advised the video below contains some footage of fatal accidents:

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Trailer: New film “Rapid Response” explores CART’s years of living dangerously”

  1. Looks really interesting! Some brave drivers back in the day, but they had no choice.

  2. It is indeed a much more dangerous category, and watching that had me wincing many times.

    It’s great to learn how the safety aspects have been improved with the sport, and I’m glad we’re at the stage now where we don’t have to witness such accidents again. These films usually end on a high note, but the tone of the talking heads outside of the track action wasn’t that chirpy was it. I hope the tone lightens up a bit, or this will be a much darker documentary to any of the F1 productions I’ve seen to date.

  3. @scottie yeah I winched and shuddered through the whole thing, even the 90’s stuff with the Ganassi (Vasser?) looks horrendous. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Stephen Olvey speak though, he always seemed considered but blunt, he was very frank after Zanardi’s incident. As for ending on a ‘high note’, I hope so too, lessons have been learnt, and though we cherish the old days, things not that long ago look very archaic.

    1. *winced, obviously

      1. Hah, yeah, sorry. Thanks @bernasaurus

    2. Memo Gidget in the Ganassi car

      1. Memo Gidley

    3. Neither. Luyendyk was the one crashing at the oval in 1997, when he subbed for Zanardi at Fontana after he had a couple of bad crashes in practice. The one that crashed at Road America was Memo Gidley, back in his 2001 stint when he replaced Nicolas Minassian

  4. 90s CART racing before the split had everything a great racing series should have: great looking, insanely fast cars that sounded great, very good drivers and competition, and spectacular accidents that were, thankfully, rarely fatal.

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