~ Chris “#16” Demaras ~
When I was a kid, I saw a movie called “The Last Chase” that had a big impact on me. All I remembered was a racer had to drive his Le Mans Prototype across the US to escape to California. I didn’t understand much else. but I liked it…a lot.
I found the movie on YouTube and watched it again, now as an adult, I didn’t realize as a kid that the 1981 movie was a Canadian-American production. The opening scene of lead actor Lee Majors driving his orange Porsche 917 CAN-AM roadster around Mosport was a giveaway.
The Last Chase is very timely. The movie is set in 2011, twenty years after a deadly virus swept across the world. In the panic that folllowed, Amercan democracy crumbled, and a totaliitarian government replaced duly elected officials in the White House.
The new dictators claimed that crude oil had run out, and outlawed people from owning cars, forcing everyone in America to take public transit. The scenes of the protagonist riding the subway are extra entertaining because of the TTC logos on the trains as they pass through “Yorkdale” station.
In this dystopian future, personal freedoms are lost, rules control every individuals’ actions, and state surveillance monitor even the smallest violations. A horrible reality.
Except for California. In the movie, Free California seems to have ceeded from the union, and established its own nation state. Out anti-hero re-assembles a race car he buried under his garage years earlier with plans on driving to freedom; the ultimate getaway driver.
Bill Brack, the 1973, 1974 & 1975 Canadian Formula Atlantic Champion was hired to drive the Porsche for filming. Every time actor Lee Majors straps on his helmet, and he’s suddenly a little shorter in the next shot, that’s Brack.
The movie is not exactly John Frankenheimer’s 1966 classic Le Mans, but it’s not as bad as Stallone’s 2001 film Driven either. It’s a fun piece of dystopian sci-fi fluff. The chance to see a Can-Am car drive on public roads is enough for most car buffs.
But the final battle scene between the race car and an F-86 Sabre fighter jet (piloted by Rocky Balboa’s manager Mickey no less) will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Just like it did when I was seven years old and watched the movie for the first time.