Documentary Review: Rich guy buys race team, experiences learning curve in his “Rookie Season”

Ladies and gentlemen, your American tax dollars at work! And you were afraid every GOP tax cut for the rich was just wasted.

Frank DePew, a 60something motorsports enthusiast who made his money off the heavily-subsidized solar farm (for utilities, not sustainable, tree-friendly home and business rooftops) industry, took his trickle-down cash and bought himself an IMSA racing team, aligning himself with two championship-level drivers — Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis.

DePew would share driving duties in the 10 event endurance race season that includes stops for the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and races at Road Wisconsin and elsewhere. He purchased Rebel Rock Racing, lock stock and uncarbureted, figuring to buy himself glory in a prestigious series well above the club racing where he’d spent his spare time previously.

Oh, and he’d commission a documentary about his “Rookie Season,” with director Adrian Bonvento getting footage and sound inside the cars, on the (often rainy) track, in the pits and with the crew chief in the viewing box.

“Rookie Season” is the quintessential “vanity project,” with decent enough race footage and banal nothings delivered in voice-over by the drivers, with the Scottish champ Liddell taking care to be diplomatic about how he characterizes the rich poseur who wrecks the car in early races as DePew devotes himself to conquering a steep learning curve.

The makings of a comedy are in those early race scenes, with DePew clumsily crashing, “owning” his blame and spinning it with an “ADHD” self-diagnosis, the excuse that replaced “a little dyslexic” among the rich and famous.

Because we all need to take credit for what we’ve “conquered.” Thanks, Oprah.

Sorry if I’m being too subtle here, but I’ve been to several events in this racing series at Sebring and the VIR over the years. And there’s always a new version of this sort of “gashole” competing, many of them celebrities. Some of them even have the gall to document their bought-and-paid-for glory with a film crew.

Here, even the repetitive “put on the slicks (or swap out to “rain” tires)” material that dominates the racing sequences is more interesting than this lot and the fellow who bought his way into something of dubious merit just to feed his ego.

Rating: Unrated, some profanity

Cast: Robin Liddell, Frank DePew, Andrew Davis

Credits: Directed by Adrian Bonvento. An Adventure Entertainment release.

Running time: 1:15

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.