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Cornelius News

Documentary is a tribute to friendship

MICHAEL WALTRIP

By Dave Yochum.  A movie-quality documentary about the friendship between Michael Waltrip and the late Dale Earnhardt debuted in New York and Los Angeles and got boffo (short for Box Office) reviews in Variety.

“Waltrip’s earnest and forthright narration lends ‘Blink of an Eye’ its intimacy and insight. Just as welcome are the sincere confessions of other subjects, be it Darrell [Waltrip] admitting to his own shortcomings as a brother, or Dale Jr. stating that, at the 2001 Daytona 500, he wasn’t really on board with his dad’s idea to work as a unified squad, since he wanted to win the race himself,” The Variety review said.

“Blink of an Eye” chronicles the star-crossed relationship between a perennial underdog and the most feared driver in NASCAR history. It opens Thursday at 7 pm at Birkdale and AMC Concord Mills.

Waltrip is a Cornelius resident and the owner of the old Michael Waltrip Raceworld. The local race shop and tourist attraction closed after the final race of the 2015 season.

On the fateful running of the Daytona 500 in 2001, Waltrip broke his 462-race losing streak in heart-breaking, Shakespearean fashion. Triumph became tragedy when Waltrip’s best friend and team owner, Dale Earnhardt Sr., crashed in the final lap and died.

The story was first told in “In the Blink of an Eye,” which landed on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2011, 10 years after the fatal crash. The page-turner, written with author Ellis Henican, is about a day that changed lives in the blink of an eye.

DALE EARNHARDT AND MICHAEL WALTRIP

The book—and the documentary—dig deep into the emotions that Waltrip had bottled up inside for years. The trailer previews a theatrical, movie-like experience: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10132048/

Filming was done extensively in North Carolina, including Waltrip’s former race shop at Liverpool and Chartwell Drive.

They also shot extensively in and around Daytona and at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Editing, sound mixing, securing archival footage—including never-before-seen home movies of Dale and Michael—took more than six months.

Filmmaker Paul Taublieb said, “great stories are a gift, and this one has all the elements.”

He focused on the “dramatic intersection of triumph, tragedy, the unexpected, and amazing characters.”

It’s a story that transcends sports, much like “Free Solo” in 2018 or “The Endless Summer” back in 1966.

“My film resonates with themes of perseverance, grit, determination and above all, the redemptive transformation of friendship, even in tragedy,” said Taublieb, who was the producer of “The Vow,” which grossed $200 million at the box office.

The eponymous title song is sung by Bobby Capps of 38 Special. It will be released on Cali-Bama Music as a single and music video featuring footage and stars from the film.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty, Richard Childress and Michael’s brother, Darrell Waltrip make appearances in the Taublieb film.

Waltrip says the documentary is a “great way to honor my friend Dale and tell a story that people didn’t know and all that went into our friendship and all that led up to that February.”

Whether it’s turned into a full-length motion picture or not is anybody’s guess, given the complexities of film production in Hollywood, but Waltrip says it’s already being discussed.

“The heroism of perseverance, the power of having someone believing in you when no one else does, and maybe most importantly, the truth where triumph and tragedy can intersect in the time span of, well, a blink of an eye.”       Paul Taublieb

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