Who’s Ready to Binge Watch a NASCAR Romcom?

NASCAR Cup Series driver, Tyler Reddick and wife, Alexa De Leon

Getty Images NASCAR Cup Series driver, Tyler Reddick and wife, Alexa De Leon

Not content with its traditional base, NASCAR is enlisting Hollywood to help it reach newer, younger fans. The project? A feature film tentatively titled Clean Air.

According to Deadline Hollywood, the film stars Piper, a “rebellious female dirt track racer,” Lyla, an “ambitious sports agent,” and Matthew Kyte, the mysterious former NASCAR champion — and Piper’s father.

Would you pay to watch this? Does that matter? NASCAR is clearly looking to broaden its audience beyond the traditional NASCAR fan. Younger fans, more Hispanic fans, and new fans — especially those outside the US — are a core part of NASCAR’s growth strategy.

Incorporating YouTube, Netflix, social media — and now, Hollywood — are the tools NASCAR will use.

It’s Like Days of Thunder, Except Not

NASCAR Full Speed, which premiered on Netflix in late January, proved a surprise hit. In our review, we wrote: “There’s race sequences that almost fully capture the speed and danger of a NASCAR race. We meet the wives, girlfriends, children, the crew chiefs, owners. And none of it feels staged or inauthentic.”

In fact, there was nearly as much time with the NASCAR driver wives and girlfriends as the drivers themselves. What next? The Real Housewives of NASCAR? Not a bad idea. But those hoping for something more akin to the F1-hyped drama, Rush, or the upcoming Brad Pitt F1 vehicle, Apex, may leave the theater unhappy.

The F1 film Apex is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who directed Tom Gun: Maverick. Which starred Tom Cruise. Who starred in the NASCAR-fueled Days of Thunder. This new NASCAR film, Clean Air, is directed by Victoria Mahoney. Mahoney has directed numerous television episodes and the upcoming film, The Old Guard 2. Clean Air is written by Alison Rose Greenberg.

Per Deadline Hollywood, the focus of Clean Air will be on Lyla, “the ambitious sports agent.” And it will be a romcom. And it sounds suspiciously like Rapide, the rumored upcoming Formula 1 film that’s scheduled to come out before Clean Air. In Rapide, a 17-year-old girl “addicted to speed” dreams of becoming an F1 champion.

New NASCAR Fans vs. Traditional NASCAR Fans

Will NASCAR’s relentless pursuit of new fans drive away those who’ve been so faithful to the sport?

Regardless, NASCAR is serious about growing its fan base beyond the traditional fan. Just as important, NASCAR is serious about using new media and Hollywood to help it achieve this goal. NASCAR has hired ESPN veteran, John Dahl, as its new SVP of Content.

At ESPN, Dahl was in charge of Special Projects, Films and Original Content. According to Deadline Hollywood, Dahl will be responsible “for all content generated by NASCAR Studios and NASCAR Digital Media across multiple business areas.”

Of course, it’s not just NASCAR that’s looking to make new fans — and generate millions, maybe billions of dollars through digital media. Consider Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

As Heavy wrote in March 2024, Junior is “building a multi-million dollar multi-media empire spanning traditional broadcast networks, streaming services, social media, podcasting, and online video.” As we noted then, Earnhardt has 2.5 million followers on Twitter/X, and “is getting so big he is even having an influence on NASCAR’s business negotiations.”

The actual NASCAR Cup race on Sunday is becoming more like a seed. From it, countless podcasts, clips, tweets, TikToks, Netflix docudramas, and now feature films, spring forth.

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