Rob’s Car Movie Review: Born to Race (2011)

I unabashedly love movies in which a large collection of all types of cars is unleashed to create havoc. The Gumball Rally, The Cannonball Run and Dazed and Confused are three such films that I have reviewed in the past. Finding others like this to review has become a more arduous task and I had almost given up hope finding one for this month, until I stumbled on a little known film, Born to Race (2011), the subject of this iteration of Rob’s Car Movie Review!

Born to Race theatrical movie trailer.

Produced by American Cinema International in association with ESX Entertainment, Born to Race was directed by Alex Ranarivelo and scribed by freshman screenwriter, Steve Sarno. The film features an ensemble cast of largely unknown faces such as Joseph Cross, Brando Eaton and Nicole Badaan, teamed up with veteran character actors Grant Show and John Pyper-Ferguson.

Joseph Cross as Danny Kruger.

In the movie, Cross portrays Danny Krueger, a young street racer with a rebellious streak who crashes a car in an illegal drag race. He is sent to live in the small town of Bradford, California with his estranged father, Frank (Pyper-Ferguson), a former NASCAR driver whose career was cut short by a debilitating on-track shunt.

John Pyper-Ferguson as Frank Kruger.

It doesn’t take long before Danny falls back into his old habits and gets in trouble battling the high school bully, played by Eaton, for the attention of Jessica (Badaan), and to be the towns top racer. Danny and his father lock horns over the issue repeatedly until Danny enrolls in an NHRA-certified “High School Drags” event which gives him the opportunity to vanquish his rival and bring himself and his father together.

Brando Eaton plays Jake, Danny’s rival.

If you realize that the film is no Citizen Kane going into it, Born to Race can actually be an enjoyable little popcorn flick. Though the movie is aimed at a high school age demographic, the plot is rather hackneyed and the general style of the film a poor man’s Fast and the Furious, it nonetheless has many likeable facets. For starters, the film is well cast, and the actors all do an okay job with the material they were given. The plot is quite grounded, eschewing all of the explosions, implausibilities and constant car demolition of the Fast and the Furious series and others.  What’s more, the cinematography is above average, acutely capturing the aesthetic of the street racer’s world and the soundtrack works well to pump up the energy.

Danny’s love interest, Jessica (Nicole Badaan).

It’s the collection of cars in evidence that make the movie, though. From modded-out Japanese imports to serious old-school American muscle, there is something for everyone here.

Our protagonist, Danny, drives a 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, a car I have actually driven in real life, and can attest is a serious example of Japanese muscle.

Danny’s modded-out 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

While we never get a lingering glance under the hood of Danny’s car, it is mentioned in dialog that the Subaru’s stock, 300 horsepower, 2.5L turbocharged, double overhead cam flat four has received heavy modification including an upgraded turbo and a 200 shot nitrous system. The brakes and suspension are said to be custom too.

From the outside, the car looks great in white with red racing stripes and custom wheels with super-low-profile tires. Cool interior touches include white face gauges, racing pedals, and a custom shifter on the six-speed.

Jake vanquishes an opponent at the High School Drags competition in his 2011 Ford Mustang GT.

Danny’s rival, Jake Kendall, rolls in a black 2011 Ford Mustang GT. The exterior of the car features a custom front splitter, aftermarket carbon fiber hood with ram-air intake, large rear spoiler and large diameter racing wheels. Inside the pony car, we are given glimpses of a cue-ball shifter, A-pilar mounted gauges and racing pedals.

Frank Kruger’s 1987 Buick Grand National.

Danny’s father’s car is a peach in the form of a pristine, red ’87 Buick Grand National that he sells to have the money to max out Danny’s WRX for the High School Drags competition; and Jessica has a 2000 Porsche Boxster.

My favorite car in the movie: a Panther Pink 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T 426 Hemi car.

Other notable cars in the movie include a smattering of late-model Challengers, old school Chevelles, Mustangs, Olds 442s, a ’55 Chevy Bel Air, and a pair of pretty sweet ’69 Camaros. My absolute favorite car in the movie though has to be a 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T, which appears to be an original 426 Hemi car. It is resplendent in Panther Pink, but alas only appears for a few brief moments towards the end of the film.

All in all, despite its flaws, the movie is an enjoyable way to kill a couple of hours, if for no other reason then to gawk at an impressive collection of iron and steel. As such, I give Born to Race six and a half out of ten pistons.

About the author

Rob Finkelman

Rob combined his two great passions of writing and cars; and began authoring columns for several Formula 1 racing websites and Street Muscle Magazine. He is an avid automotive enthusiast with a burgeoning collection of classic and muscle cars.
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