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‘Smash: Motorized Mayhem’ (review)

Produced by Peter Spirer, Kevin J. Burroughs
Written by Peter Spirer
Directed by Kevin J. Burroughs
Featuring Don Nerone, Chuck Rush,
Ben Craft, Butch Pierce

Narrated by W. Earl Brown

 

I’ve never been much of a vehicle racing fan. Sure, I went to a few of my friends’ dirt bike races as a kid, and I’d check out the Indy 500 most years, but that was about it.

Still, I went into this doc with an open mind.

Smash introduces us to a handful of rural Floridians who take a break from their everyday lives to occasionally participate in school bus races.

That’s right: 19 school buses are revamped and painted and raced against each other on a 3/8 mile-long track.

Not just any 3/8 mile-long track: it’s a figure 8 track. So yes, huge, clunky school buses driving full speed crisscross in the middle intersection, so of course there are more than a few collisions.

We get to know a few of these seemingly crazy drivers, including Butch Pierce and Ben Craft.

The races are a major outlet for these guys, and for some, it is a dominant part of their lives.

One of the racers even got married at the track on race day.

We watch as they bid on vehicles and/or parts at auctions, make repairs on their buses, and paint them with designs and catchphrases.

I didn’t have much interest in the subject, and yet I had a lot of fun with this film. These guys take the races seriously, and realize they could get hurt. But at base, it’s just a helluva good time for them – and the fans – and that’s infectious.

The climactic race is indeed exciting, and with the buses juuuuust missing each other as they hurtle through the figure 8, genuinely hair-raising.

We also get to see the equally nuts prelude to the main event: a race with trucks towing speedboats! Of course, much speedboat-fishtailing is involved…

At just over an hour long, Smash doesn’t wear out its welcome. It’s short and sweet; director Kevin J. Burroughs was wise to keep the running time on the brief side.

With actor W. Earl Brown’s (Deadwood, Preacher) just-right narration, SMASH achieves the right tone throughout.

Even if you hate NASCAR and the like, the school bus gimmick – and peek inside a tiny, rural community – may just win you over.

 

Smash: Motorized Mayhem arrives on On Demand and iTunes March 21

 

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