No matter how many times you’ve seen Pulp Fiction, odds are you never noticed the massive ‘The Young Racers’ poster behind Vincent Vega and Mrs. Mia Wallace when they first walk into Jack Rabbit Slims. That’s Quentin Tarantino’s nod to low-budget movie king Roger Corman’s 1963 picture, hiding right in plain sight.
The film was produced and directed by Roger Corman, with then-unknown 24-year-old Francis Ford Coppola working sound engineer and second-unit director. The crew chased the travelling Formula One circus around Europe during the 1962 season, and filmed without permits or permission.
The motion picture provides a glimpse into vintage F1 machinery from Scuderia Ferrari, Team Lotus, Brabham, and even Bruce McLaren driving a Cooper-Climax. The racing sequences were shot (way too close for safety) by Coppola himself.
The film includes race footage of the Monaco Grand Prix, the French Grand Prix at Circuit de Rouen, the Belgian Grand Prix at an almost unrecognizable Spa-Francorchamps, and the British Grand Prix at Aintree Motor Racing Circuit in England, then known as the ‘Goodwood of the North’.
There’s even something of a plot to keep movie-goers preoccupied between the racing sequences, but don’t expect Citizen Cane.
The villain is Joe Machin (William Campbell) a reckless American competing in Formula 1. He’s rich, famous, and a serious philanderer (remember…this was 60+ years ago). Despite being married, Joe tries to sleep with every woman he meets at the track, where he is a god-like figure.
After the race in Monaco, we’re introduced to the hero, Steve Children (Mark Damon) a former racer turned writer. Steve gets his heart broken when he sees his girlfriend Monique together with Joe. Monique has been unfaithful, and now that Joe got what he wanted, he’s tossing her to the curb like yesterday’s newspaper. Steve vows revenge! Not by pummeling Joe, or sabotaging his race car. No. Steve is going to hang out with Joe all season then write a tell-all book about what a big jerk he is!
Sounds like pre-teens in junior high.
Well, it turns out that Joe isn’t such a bad guy, once you get to know him. He’s just sleeping with all those women to overcome his massive insecurities! As Steve and Joe pal around as teammates, racing all across Europe, they become BFFs.
Despite the camaraderie, there is a final battle between frenemies Joe and Steve. In the climactic scene, one racer is thrown from his car, while the other is driving right at his rival’s head! Does the racer commit vehicular homicide, disguised as a racing incident? Check out the movie on YouTube to find out!
An interesting side note; all of the dialog had to re-dubbed after filming due to poor sound quality. The voice od Steve Children is actually provided by none other than William Shatner, four years before he became Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.