Racing Dreams

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Racing Dreams Movie Poster Image
Tweens in go-karts race for glory in lively docu.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Illustrates how hard work, commitment, and parental support help achieve positive results for kids with firm goals. Shows that a passion for sport and for winning may provide a healthy outlet for a child's feelings of rage and abandonment. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The three featured tweens are passionate, focused, and diligent and find joy in pursuing their goals. One of the boys, continually confronting anger and disappointment in his personal life, makes positive behavioral choices because of his commitment to his sport. With one exception (a non-custodial dad), the parents of these kids are supportive, reliable, loving, and, in some cases, self-sacrificing. A tendency to vicariously experience past grievances through the successes of their children is considered. Religion is an integral part of the families' lives. No ethnic diversity.


Competitive go-kart racing results in one kart overturning, no injuries.


A few insults: "retarded," "screwup."


Countless sporting manufacturers' products are on-screen, on the go-karts, clothing, and gear; as named sponsors; and in advertisements: Ultramax, X-Caliber, Abercrombie, Lowe's, Uniroyal, Greased Lightning, Delco. Food products visible in the kitchens of the subjects include Mountain Dew, Hunt's, Pioneer Sugar, Pepsi, Cheez-Its, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Parental substance abuse affects the life of one of the subjects. His father appears to live with his son and stays sober for a time, then retreats into his addictions. No on-camera use of drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary covers one year in the lives of three young go-kart racing stars. Junior racers Annabeth Barnes, age 11; Josh Hobson, age 12; and senior racer Brandon Warren, age 13 all are significant contenders in a five-race series over one season that determines the national WKA (World Karting Association) champions. Racing Dreams, winner of multiple film festival awards, takes in much more than the preparation and races. The families, the culture, the individual work ethics, and the kids' activities outside of racing are explored. Audiences will get to know Annabeth, Josh, and Brandon, root for them, and come to understand what propels them to succeed. One of the boys struggles with family issues (including parental addictions and abandonment), but his loving grandparents strive to give his life balance and security. Dozens of sports-affiliated products and brands are recognizable on clothing, go-karts, cars, banners, and so on throughout the film. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byjacksond July 29, 2015

Amazing documentary on the dreams of three very different children

This documentary follows three extraordinary children with one dream- to be professional NASCAR drivers through jr. go-cart racing. Brandon is a boy who "... Continue reading
Parent Written byelizmo January 31, 2015

Great movie for ALL ages, including little kids and adults

My son watched this movie when he was 5 years old and LOVED it. He loved the characters and especially the karts and racing. He and my then 7 year old were su... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byGamersnews32 July 7, 2019

Inspired for wannabe racers, entertaining as well

Racing Dreams is actually a documentary about children who compete in competitive Go-Karting to grow and be racers. Violence isn't present, but one short s... Continue reading

What's the story?

Filmmaker Marshall Curry takes his audience on a year-long odyssey with three young kids as they vie for championships in the World Karting Association's five-race national competition. RACING DREAMS introduces the three -- 11-year-old Annabeth, 12-year-old Josh, and 13-year-old Brandon -- and their families as they prepare, race, and then celebrate their many successes. Daily life in each of the three households is distinctive. Two live in southern states, one is from the Midwest. The kids and their families exhibit differing lifestyles, goals, and attitudes about their involvement. The unifying factors: commitment, sacrifice, passion, and hard work. Brandon, the "senior" member of the group, faces the most challenges; his family background has made racing a key element in his general behavior and survival. The director and his team make a concerted effort to provide full portraits of the children and their individual worlds, as well as providing exciting, suspenseful moments during the five races. 

Is it any good?

It's rare to find a documentary that will appeal, hold the interest of, and inspire older kids and teens as well as adults. Racing Dreams, with its emphasis on the personalities as well as the sport, is a fine exception. It's not necessary to be a racing fan to appreciate the movie; the kids are fun to watch, and it's exciting to root for them. Their parents are candid, surprisingly willing to share their private thoughts and struggles and to let the audience in on what it takes to nurture these budding heroes. An honest depiction of Brandon's dad, who's battling his personal demons, provides the saddest moments in the film, but Mr. Curry simply lets it play and doesn't dwell on or show anything explicitly disturbing. It's a relatable film, which gives kids a chance to meet some exceptional junior racers and get acquainted with the small but devoted culture of the youngest NASCAR fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the takeaway from this movie. How did what you saw in Racing Dreams inspire or influence you? How did this documentary expand your understanding of a culture that may be different from your own?

  • Midway through the movie, Annabeth rethinks her commitment to racing. What factors do you think influenced her? Do you think the filmmakers showed both sides of the issue clearly? Did you agree with her decision?

  • Although Annabeth, Josh, and Brandon are unique, what qualities do they share? What qualities do their families share? Which of these qualities do you think are essential for success in sports or any other endeavor? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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