DVD review: The Ride of Their Lives (NASCAR)

CMT and Paramount video entertainment released a historical perspective DVD last Tuesday entitled The Ride of Their Lives, which chronicles NASCAR from its early southern roots in the 1950’s to its corporate juggernaut status of today. The pioneers of auto racing are brought to life through the words and memories of the men and women who were a part of the early days of NASCAR.

This documentary follows the evolution of racing through archival footage of NASCAR’s first 60 years in business and also documents the technological transformation that has occurred in the sport. Long-time fans will have the opportunity to reminisce once again about the days when racing cars had the same look and feel of the automobiles that were sold at their local dealerships. It was a time when drivers repaired their own vehicles without the assistance of a pit crew.

NASCAR is a way of life for some of the drivers as racing has been a part of their families’ lives for generations. This DVD gives an in-depth look at the history of the Petty, Allison, and Earnhardt families and delves deep into each family’s personal tragedies that have taken place throughout the years. You will also hear an emotional account of the life of Wendell Scott, the first African-American NASCAR driver and the gut-wrenching story of Tim Richmond who died from complications of the AIDS virus in 1987.

And no racing documentary would be complete without a video montage of spectacular car crashes. My favorite was a still picture collage of an on-track fistfight between the Allison brothers and Cale Yarbrough. It serves as a great example of how tempers can flare up when drivers are jockeying for position at high speeds with a large amount of money at stake.

Racing fans throughout the country are gearing up to converge on Daytona Beach, Florida this weekend to attend NASCAR’s equivalent to the Super Bowl — The Daytona 500 — so the DVD’s release is timely. And the interview with former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., where he recollects the early days drivers racing on the local Daytona beaches (prior to the speedway being built), will get fans primed for the big race.

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