CHAMPCAR/CART: Drivers to have cameos in "Champs" motion picture

TORONTO (July 13, 2000) – Several superstars of the CART FedEx Championship Series, including 1999 CART All Stars Michael Andretti, Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti, are scheduled to be featured in cameos for the motion picture, "Champs,"...

TORONTO (July 13, 2000) – Several superstars of the CART FedEx Championship Series, including 1999 CART All Stars Michael Andretti, Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti, are scheduled to be featured in cameos for the motion picture, "Champs," which begins production this weekend at the Molson Indy in Toronto.

The Franchise Pictures production crew will film for three days at Exhibition Place, site of the Molson Indy, and have ample opportunity to feature some of the top stars of the CART FedEx Championship Series plying their trade. International box-office star Sylvester Stallone will be featured as the writer/producer/star and will join director/producer Renny Harlin in utilizing the CART FedEx Championship Series as the backdrop for the storyline about open-wheel racing.

"We're blending fact and fantasy," Stallone said. "We'll feature real drivers and have been filming at actual races. This will be very authentic – an interactive experience for the millions who love racing."

The real-life superheroes of racing are excited about having an opportunity to further expose CART racing to the general public through a project of this caliber.

"I think this is a great opportunity for our series to reach an audience that may not yet have been exposed to Champ Car racing," said Andretti, the 1991 series champion and CART's career victory leader with 39 wins. "I really believe this can be a stepping stone in creating new fans for our worldwide series. Once they see our level of competition, I think they will be hooked."

"I don't think I'm going to end up in Hollywood, but it has been a lot of fun shooting behind the scenes while the movie is being made," said Montoya, the defending series champion and reigning Indy 500 titleist.

The storyline features Stallone as Joe Tanto, an open-wheel driver who is lured back to racing after a serious accident by the promise of having the opportunity to drive again. However, he discovers his mission is to help a rookie phenom played by Kip Pardue, who has slipped from championship contention by midseason. In addition to Stallone and Pardue (soon-to-released "Remember the Titans"), the motion picture will star Burt Reynolds, Gina Gershon, Robert Sean Leonard, Stacy Edwards, supermodel Estella Warren, Til Schweiger, Cristian de la Fuente and Brent Briscoe. In an effort to bring the true intensity and thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing of the most competitive series in the world, the filmmakers will enrich live-action racing footage with the latest technology in camera and computer graphic imaging.

"We aim to put the audience in the driver's seat," said Harlin, who teamed previously with Stallone in the action thriller, "Cliffhanger." "We want to show a race from the driver's point of view, which really has not been done before. This film will be different from any other race-car movie you have ever seen."

Additional footage for "Champs" is scheduled to be shot July 28-30 at the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti