Growing up around Indianapolis, the events surrounding the Indy 500 are just as prevalent in my childhood as Christmas or Halloween. May was (and still is, for my dad) always an entire month of loading up the cooler and hanging out at the track (what we lovingly call the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). My dad would usually take me out of school a day or two just to enjoy it all with him and we were there every weekend as well. It was where he would hang out with all his friends and I’d play with my dinosaurs or run around with my siblings and friends. I didn’t always to go the race itself, it depended on how many tickets we had and if he could sell them, but I can say that it really is the greatest spectacle in racing. Going back now always feels like going home, I just wish Turbo had gotten to know my home a little better.
Now, I’m not really upset. I’ve made peace with how the film seems to look at the track with rose colored glasses. In a nutshell, this film is trying to bring more kids to the race and it’s probably the biggest advertisement the 500 has ever had. You certainly can’t allude to all the beer drinking that goes on, the legends of The Snake Pit (boy, does my dad have some wild stories) or how many drivers have lost their lives there throughout the years.
However, there is a lot of history and culture that is not even acknowledged in Turbo. If the taco truck gang got there in time to qualify, they were there for a lot of festivities. Did they really miss out on the fun and free concert for Carb Day? Did they not participate in the parade? I was very sad that there wasn’t even a little musical reference to Back Home Again in Indiana, which is always sung just before the race, usually by Jim Nabors. And there was no announcement of “a new track record,” always a big moment during qualifying at the track. A snail qualifying definitely breaks some records, what a missed opportunity.
What it does get right, made my heart soar. Seeing the track recreated in an animated movie is a thrill to me, and they got it (mostly) accurate (there’s no cornfield next door to the track). We get to see Gasoline Alley, the pagoda, pit road and even the garage area up close. I had to laugh when the security guards in yellow shirts appeared, they’re my dad’s May nemeses and sometimes good friends! The iconic yard of bricks (the start/finish line) is of course home to a pivotal scene. The IndyCars are accurate and beautiful. And we get a close look at the Borg-Warner Trophy, though I’m not sure if we see any real winners faces on it. There was even a glimpse of people watching from the infield, where my dad and his friends always hang out.
As your average animated movie for kids, Turbo is pretty good. But in the eyes of a life long Indy 500 fan and native, it could have been so much more. The Indy 500 is more than a race, it has its own culture, rich in tradition. You just don’t go into someone’s home and make a movie about it without understanding what’s most important to its people.