Heartland Thunder

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Heartland Thunder TV Poster Image
Racing reality show is a little too edgy for young kids.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series portrays the dirt-track racing culture as one that supports rivalries and conflicts between racers. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the racers aren't particularly good sports -- and some are actually known for their unsportsmanlike behavior. There's not a lot of diversity among the people featured on the show.


Cars often crash at speeds of 120mph. The death of a racer is discussed. Heated arguments before and after races often result in yelling, pushing, and shoving. Justin Boney often drives recklessly around the track, which leads to crashes.


Frequent strong language; words like “hell,” “crap,” and “ass” are audible, and while stronger curses -- including “f--k,” “s--t,” and “goddamn" -- are bleeped, with the speakers' mouths blurred.


While off the track, the drivers drive Ford trucks and Nissan cars. Tim Karrick’s race car is covered with his local sponsors’ logos.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this series will appeal to car and car racing lovers, its strong language and focus on personal rivalries makes it an iffy pick for younger kids. Expect frequent use of words like “hell,” “crap,” and “ass”; stronger choices -- like "f--k" and "s--t" -- are also used often, but they're bleeped out (and the speakers' mouths are blurred). There are also plenty of high-speed crashes, and drivers occasionally engage in  unsportsmanlike behavior (yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybummy July 11, 2011

Hard work

Hard work is the message this sends to kids. Work hard and you can achieve anything.

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What's the story?

HEARTLAND THUNDER follows four modified dirt-track racers during the racing season at Kansas City’s Lakeside Speedway. The drivers -- including welder Tom Charles, his hot-tempered son Dan Charles, Tim Karrick, and Justin Boney -- spend all of their free time and money modifying cars and preparing for their Friday night races. Their love for the sport, as well as the long-standing rivalries between them, keeps each committed to becoming the fastest racer of the season.

Is it any good?

Heartland Thunder presents an interesting look at the dirt-track racing culture, which defines itself as a blue-collar pastime that celebrates fast cars, high speeds, and big egos. As a result, the show includes lots of discussions about the cost of outfitting the racers' cars, as well as high-speed crashes and unsportsmanlike conduct -- both on and off the track.

People who like cars and racing will probably be drawn to the drama on display here, as well as the behind-the-scenes excitement during the actual races. But what they'll probably appreciate the most is the passion that the featured drivers have for the sport -- as well as the sacrifices they make to participate in it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sportsmanship. What does it mean to be a good sport?

  • Does athletes' sportsmanship impact the way that sports are played? How does it impact the way that a sport is viewed in the media?

  • Are the drivers featured in this show good role models? Why or why not?

TV details

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