SL Interview: Marshall Curry Documents the Youth Go-Kart Racing Circuit

First, there was “Hoop Dreams.” Then came “Spellbound.” Now comes “Racing Dreams,” the latest documentary film to focus on youth, sports and competition.

In 2007, acclaimed director Marshall Curry followed the fortunes of three youngsters who compete at the highest ranks of the go-kart racing circuit. The trio drive miniature racecars that can reach speeds of 70 miles per hour in a nationally sanctioned league called the World Karting Association.

As the documentary makes clear, karting is no kid’s game. Expensive and ultra-competitive, karting is viewed as a stepping-stone for professional racers on the NASCAR and Formula One circuits. Among the drivers who began their careers in karting: Michael Schumacher, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart.

Like “Hoop Dreams” (1994), which profiled two high-school basketball prospects, “Racing Dreams” is more than just a documentary film about youth sports. Intimate and sobering, “Racing Dreams” gives us a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of three youngsters on the verge of their teenage years.

Director Curry’s first feature-length documentary film, “Street Fight,” was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. “Racing Dreams” won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Following a limited run in movie theaters nationwide this summer, “Racing Dreams” will be available on DVD this fall.

SportsLetter spoke to Curry via phone from his office in Brooklyn.

— David Davis