DIRT: Blood, Sweat, Tears, Mud, Dirt and Beer

It’s hard not to leave the documentary feature winner of this year’s Austin Film Festival,“DIRT,” without thinking “This is ‘Hands on a Hard Body’ on a dirt race track.” Director and producer Jeff Bowden (from Dallas) even admits that he was influenced by that other famous film. Both movies feature the inhabitants of a town in Texas devoting all their time and energy to win a competition most people wouldn’t waste their time with. In “DIRT,” it’s the 2002 World Class Street Stock Championship at the Devil’s Bowl in Mesquite, Texas. Most of the competitors live paycheck to paycheck and pour all the extra money they have into their only passion—racing their beat-up stock cars over a muddy track. Each of their stories contains a window into aspects of the human condition.

In car #42, you have Gayla Jones, a homemaker who wants to prove to a chauvinistic bunch that she is the equal of any man in a race car. Her husband Andy, who also races, watches “Days of Thunder” every week to get psyched up. Coming between them is Jimmy Quick Jr., who owns Gayla’s car, and who credits her for saving his life (his own father died racing at the Devil’s Bowl when he was a boy).

Though one might initially write off these characters as rednecks from Wal-Mart nation (one character even has a “Redneck Wind Chime” consisting of Coors cans on strings), eventually you come to see your own dreams in their experiences. Who hasn’t hated their job? Who hasn’t wanted to be the best at something—anything? If you want to catch this before it joins the ranks of video rental legends, it will be showing again at the IMAX theater at the Texas History Museum this Wednesday at 7:15.

View the trailer.

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