Most movies about racing have a lot of scenery in common; the track, the pits, the mechanics, the fancy car, the painted helmet, the corporate logos, the sponsors congratulating the driving hero on their big win at the end of the movie. This movie has, well, none of that. In fact, the deep-voiced movie trailer intro would probably go a little more like ‘In a world… where one man… with no tools… no race shop… builds his own rally car… and takes on the mega-race-teams… everyone said that he had no chance. But Caswell… with no pit crew… no sponsors… and running out of parts… is going to Prove. Them. Wrong.’

The movie will star actor Jeremy Renner in the true story of Bill Caswell, who bought a $500 car from Craigslist, built it to rally, and then went on to compete at the World Rally Championship event in Mexico in that very same car. He doesn’t come in first place by making a pass in the last turn. There isn’t a big sponsor that turns him down in the first half of the movie who then hires him after he wins the big race. Instead, there’s something else: a whole lot of adventure. When you give it your best shot, without really knowing what’s going to happen, and decide that it is more important to do something and live your life now than to sit back and wait until you sometime, maybe, have it all figured out, that’s adventure.

‘I was there at the very literal beginning of Bill’s rally career’, said Anders Green of NASA Rally Sport, a sanctioning body that organizes rallies in the US. ‘I met him and his co-driver Sam Smith just a few hours before the start of his first event, Rally Tennessee. No pit crew. No rally experience. But he had a huge determination that he was going to go rally racing, no matter what the obstacles were.’

‘I’m really excited about the movie.’ says Bill Caswell ‘It’s hard to believe that its only been two years since I entered my first rally, NASA Rally Sport’s Rally Tennessee, in my track car. I was so underprepared for what I was getting into that I think any other racing organization might have turned us away. Instead Anders and the rest of the NASA crew recognized that I needed help and made it work. He even got a friend to come to the rally crazy early in the morning before the start to make sure we understood the time controls and emergency procedures.’

Eric Wages, who was that ‘crazy early morning friend’, remembers the meeting. ‘It was clear to me that Bill was very green, but really had the racer spirit. He knew track racing, but he was completely new to how rallies functioned. The all night tow from Chicago wasn’t helping either. We now know that’s classic Caswell.’

The format of rally racing, out in the woods and not in a confined track, means that the rally drivers rely on each other for safety and help much more than in track racing. This breeds a very strong family vibe between the racers. Bill got a taste of this at his first rally. ‘Some other teams could tell by our car (slammed to the ground in road race trim with gigantic brakes) that we had no idea what we were getting into and stopped by to give us some advice on rally racing and preparation.’ said Caswell. ‘Those conversations shaped the plan for the $500 BMW that I found on craigslist and ultimately took to WRC Mexico!’

Bill’s story of an underdog who goes racing on a shoestring budget will be amazing on the big screen. The flip side to his adventure is that this sport is available to normal people, as most rally drivers build their own cars in their garage. A schedule of rallies and the rules of how to build a rally car like Caswell’s is available on NASARallySport.com

‘Rallyists do their best to help each other out and bring newcomers to the sport, but NASA is probably the best at it.’ says Caswell ‘They care a lot about the little guy building his own car and making the most out of the one or two events they can squeeze into a work year. That’s how I found them and started rallying.’

Photo: Matt LaQuerre

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