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The pressure. The teamwork. The danger. The speed. The fans.

The groundbreaking IMAX® 3D film NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience thrusts moviegoers and NASCAR fans into the driver's seat to experience the heart-pounding thrills of stock cars racing at breakneck speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Captured through eye-popping IMAX 3D technology and presented on IMAX screens towering up to eight stories high, with 12,000 watts of pure digital surround sound rendering the thundering engines and the roar of the crowds, the film is a visceral journey inside America's most popular spectator sport.

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience transports film audiences into the world of today's elite NASCAR drivers, the teams that keep them on the track and the fans whose intense devotion fuels the phenomenon. Narrated by Golden Globe® Award-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland, the film shifts into reverse to review the history of the legendary sport, told from the viewpoint of some of its most revered drivers, then thrusts into high gear with a look at the thrilling spectacle that is NASCAR today. Featuring rare behind-the-scenes glimpses, as well as gripping footage of the unpredictable action on the track, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience will reveal what motivates NASCAR drivers both in and out of competition.

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience also examines the intricate science of today's racing technology, the cutting-edge machines and the underlying physics that drivers depend on to race at unbelievable speeds while skillfully maneuvering within inches of their competitors.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience is directed by SIMON WINCER (Lonesome Dove, Free Willy, Phar Lap and the recent large format film The Young Black Stallion). JAMES NEIHOUSE, one of the large-format medium's preeminent cinematographers (Space Station 3D, Michael Jordan to the Max, Rolling Stones at the Max, The Dream Is Alive), is the director of photography; IMAX Corporation's LORNE ORLEANS and DOUGLAS "DISCO" HYLTON are the producers; and NEIL GOLDBERG (producer of the FOX network's NASCAR coverage) is the executive producer.

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience is sponsored by AOL for Broadband and will be distributed exclusively to IMAX® Theatres by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and IMAX Corporation.

This film has been rated "PG" by the MPAA for "some crash scenes." www.imax.com/racing / AOL Keyword: IMAX NASCAR

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"There is no doubt about precisely when folks began racing each other in automobiles. It was the day they built the second automobile."

— racing legend Richard Petty

For 38 weeks every year, 43 of the country's best drivers compete in a series of grueling races on tracks across America in pursuit of NASCAR's (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Winston Cup Series Championship. Powered by custom-engineered cars and backed by their elite racing teams, they attempt to win races and rack up the points that will determine the prestigious Series Champion.

The intensity of NASCAR racing — the cars tearing around the track at breakneck speeds, the accelerated choreography of the pit crews and the makeshift cities erected by diehard fans who follow their favorite drivers around the circuit — has propelled NASCAR to its current status as the most popular spectator sport in America. "When you're at the track, the sound almost trembles through your soul; it's mind numbing," describes NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience director Simon Wincer. "There is nothing small about NASCAR, and until you actually experience a race, it's hard to comprehend the scale of this sport. I've been into sports all my life, and I've never seen anything as intense as this. It's just extraordinary."

Narrated by acclaimed actor Kiefer Sutherland, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience examines the science behind the speed, exploring the means with which the cars are engineered to sustain extremely high speeds for brutally long stretches of time while simultaneously addressing very real safety concerns. The film also travels back in time to touch on the history of stock car racing, following the sport's evolution from humble beginnings into the empire it is today.

"The opportunity to participate in an IMAX® film is an incredibly exciting endeavor," says Sutherland, the Golden Globe-winning star of the hit FOX drama series "24." "I don't think there is another sport or activity that lends itself to The IMAX Experience® like NASCAR does. You get such a visceral reaction from the experience of seeing an IMAX film, and as a performer, I very much wanted to be part of this project."

Indeed, IMAX is world renowned for its extraordinary large-scale films. Shot using state-of-the-art technology and presented with striking clarity on colossal screens up to eight stories high with 12,000-watts of digital surround sound, IMAX films engulf audiences in an immersive experience unrivaled in motion picture viewing. "IMAX takes you to places you could never go, whether that's into outer space or to the top of Mount Everest, and gives you an experience that you wouldn't have in your normal everyday life," comments NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience producer Lorne Orleans.

Paul Brooks, senior vice president of NASCAR and president of NASCAR Digital Entertainment, recognized the unique potential for a dynamic collaboration between NASCAR, an event too big to be fully contained in any other medium, and IMAX's technology, which provides a medium with an almost unlimited capacity to capture images and sound and present them in a format that is larger than life. "Very few people will ever be able to experience what it is like to drive and compete at up to 200 miles per hour with the precision and skill that NASCAR drivers achieve every week," Brooks says. "The IMAX 3D technology allows us to take the audience inside their world to bring that thrill and excitement, along with a behind-the-scenes look at the science of the sport, directly to NASCAR and IMAX fans."

Producer Douglas "Disco" Hylton values the added depth and breadth of the NASCAR experience that can be achieved using IMAX 3D technology. "The original IMAX is very much a wide-angle medium," he says. "When people think about it, what comes to mind are beautiful vistas and great landscapes. And 3D in many respects is the opposite of that; 3D is about very intimate space. With NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience, we have combined the best of both worlds — the wide shots provide that phenomenal sense of scale enhanced by the magic of 3D to make you really feel like you're part of everything -- that you're racing in the car or you're in the shop while the cars are being built."

Through IMAX 3D technology, the thrills and dangers of NASCAR racing are presented as an in-your-face, edge-of-your-seat experience. "You'll see a tire blow off a car and come hurtling at you," promises NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience director Simon Wincer. "But it's just as fantastic when you see a race team pull an engine out of a car and it swings over the camera and into the audience."

"The 3D is so realistic, you actually feel like you're driving a racecar," says 2002 series champion Tony Stewart. "I have the luxury of sitting in one three days a week as an occupation, but to see the cars and experience our sport from IMAX's 3D perspective is unbelievable."

"The 3D perspective also brings the depth of the fan experience to the screen," adds four-time Champion Jeff Gordon. "You feel like you're in the infield, standing on top of a motor home watching the race."

Another key aspect of the film is the men inside the machines. NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience follows the drivers from qualifying to race day as they attend to their numerous other duties, such as sponsor meetings, charity events and signing autographs for their legions of fans.

"Whether you're a fan or a driver, a sponsor or a casual observer, this film takes you into the world of NASCAR and allows you to experience it in a whole new way because of the 3D effects," adds Kurt Busch, who finished third in the 2002 Winston Cup point standings. "Like NASCAR, IMAX creates an experience that you won't forget."

While NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience does not focus on any one driver in particular, many of the top NASCAR drivers appear in the film, including Tony Stewart (#20); 2003 Champion Matt Kenseth (#17); Jimmie Johnson (#48), who earned second place in the points standings in only his second year competing; third-generation NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8); Jeff Gordon (#24), a four-time series Champion; 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Ryan Newman (#12); and 2000 series Champion Bobby Labonte (#18), as well as many other legendary faces integral to the past, present and future of the sport.

For veteran broadcast producer and director Neil Goldberg, who helped to create what has become FOX Sports' signature NASCAR coverage and shape the way the sport is seen by fans and television viewers around the world, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience provided a new perspective on the larger-than-life world of NASCAR. "This film put me back in the trenches and it gave me the opportunity to re-appreciate how truly amazing the people in this sport are," says Goldberg, who serves as the film's executive producer. "NASCAR fans will love the way the film envelops you and takes you inside the sport, and hopefully it will also reach a lot of moviegoers who would not normally see a NASCAR race."

"Watching this film sent a chill up my spine," says Gordon. "It really captures the roar, the thunder, the essence of our sport onscreen. This is NASCAR for real."

BACK TO THE FUTURE: FROM MOONSHINE TO MAJOR SPORT

To capture the full breadth of the NASCAR experience, the producers tapped Simon Wincer, the accomplished director of drama, action, sports and westerns, to helm IMAX's high-octane NASCAR documentary. In addition to directing the blockbuster family adventure Free Willy and the Emmy-winning epic television miniseries Lonesome Dove, Wincer had recently completed production on his first live-action film in the 15/70 format, The Young Black Stallion. "Besides bringing his great directing talent and enthusiasm to our project," says producer Doug Hylton, "we knew from Simon's experience on The Young Black Stallion that he was not only quite adept at filming action, he would infuse NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience with a humanity one usually doesn't find in an action movie, while taking advantage of everything the IMAX technology has to offer."

As part of his preparation for filming the ambitious documentary, "I got myself a library of books about NASCAR covering the history of the sport up to present day," says Wincer, whose extensive NASCAR research included studying videos of all of the 2002 races, as well as coverage of key races over the last two decades. "I really got a feel for the sport and the way that it's emerged in the last eight to ten years in particular."

At the outset of the film, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience travels back in time to briefly illustrate the history of stock car racing, following the sport's evolution from humble beginnings to the empire it is today. Racing legend Junior Johnson's trajectory from brash whiskey runner to winner of 50 NASCAR stock car racing titles partly inspired the film's opening narrative sequence. "I wanted to come up with a way to address the roots of the sport and get us up to 2004 very quickly," Wincer explains. "I devised this chase sequence through the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, where guys used to run moonshine."

Wincer elaborates on the origins of stock car racing: "There was nothing illegal about the moonshine, but the bootleggers didn't pay tax on the liquor. These guys basically built cars to outrun the IRS and the law. That's why they became so good at racing, because they built cars with strong suspensions that could slide around on dirt roads in the mountains at night with no lights and outrun the police."

Shot prior to the race at Bristol, the Moonshine sequence is set in 1949 and features two daredevil bootleggers who out-drive, out-maneuver and outwit a pair of frustrated cops who unsuccessfully give chase. The driving that powers this spectacular pursuit was performed by stunt drivers — two of whom are veterans of The Dukes of Hazzard television series stunt team — and two of the hottest NASCAR drivers of the 2003 season, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson, who portray the bootleggers. "When the production team was applying the artificial sideburns to my face," recalls Newman, the 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year who plays navigator to Johnson's driver, "Simon said to me, 'You think this is cool? Just wait 'til you see those sideburns on the IMAX screen, because they'll be 20 feet tall!'"

"The footage we shot of Ryan and Jimmie is just incredible," enthuses director of photography James Neihouse. "You could tell they were enjoying themselves. Any chance they get to drive without rules, they have a good time."

As a nod to the fans and everyone associated with NASCAR, the filmmakers added a surprise to the end of the sequence: when the police car spins out in a cloud of dust as the triumphant bootleggers race away, the cop driving the car is revealed to be none other than Mike Helton, President of NASCAR, and his "duputy" is played by Gary Nelson, NASCAR's Managing Director of Competition.

"It's a neat twist for fans and people inside the sport," says Jimmie Johnson, the 2003 series runner-up.

Threading through the film is narration, performed by acclaimed actor Kiefer Sutherland, which offers additional insight and commentary on various aspects of the NASCAR experience. "We're thrilled that Kiefer Sutherland has agreed to lend his passion for IMAX to this one-of-a-kind IMAX 3D film," says Greg Foster, IMAX's President of Filmed Entertainment. "Through Kiefer's involvement and the magic of IMAX 3D technology, audiences will see, hear and feel NASCAR like never before, in a way that only The IMAX Experience can deliver to moviegoers."

For Sutherland, the journey of bringing NASCAR to movie audiences through the power of The IMAX Experience was a winning one. "I now have an emotional attachment to NASCAR racing that I didn't have prior to working on this film, and I've become a very big fan of the sport," Sutherland says. "NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience puts you in the driver's seat at a series of races, and you can virtually feel the speed of the cars and the thunder of the engines. It gives you an incredible respect for what the drivers go through, how quickly they react and just how frightening it is to be moving at that speed. It's even faster and more exciting than I thought."

ON THE FAST TRACK: CAPTURING NASCAR RACING ACTION

"It's difficult to describe the feeling of driving a racecar," admits Roush Racing team driver Kurt Busch. "There are so many elements that a driver experiences during a race. When you go 180 miles an hour, the wind pushes your car down into the racetrack. It feels as if your car weighs four times the amount that it actually does because of the speed that you carry through some of the corners. And there are 43 drivers racing inches from each other and the wall."

As part of their extensive effort to capture every thrilling detail of NASCAR racing, the filmmakers scouted the NASCAR circuit and prepared to shoot race events in Daytona, Talladega, Bristol, Martinsville, California, Richmond, Rockingham and Charlotte. Wincer and the production team also immersed themselves in Speed Week, two weeks of racing and race-related activities at Florida's Daytona International Speedway that precede the season-opening Daytona 500. "I was amazed by the sheer logistics of the operation, from the drivers and their race teams to the numbers of fans in the campgrounds to the size of the telecast, the merchandising trailers and the number of hamburgers sold in one weekend," Wincer marvels.

Once he experienced the speed and intensity of NASCAR racing first-hand, Wincer looked for innovative ways to capture these powerful elements of the sport on film. "The IMAX camera is so big, it can be very difficult to follow action that is moving that fast," Wincer explains. "But to capture the speed, I knew we had to keep the camera moving, we had to get the camera on the track with the cars and we had to find a way to get a camera inside a race car."

Indeed, it was a daunting challenge to orchestrate filming the frenetic race environment with a camera the size of a bar refrigerator that weighs over 200 pounds and requires four people to carry it. The highest-resolution image capture device in the film industry, the IMAX 3D camera takes 17 minutes to load and shoots only three minutes of film at a time. (The average 35-millimeter film camera shoots 10-minute film rolls.)

"In a lot of ways, the fact that Simon hasn't spent 20 years working in large format films was a great benefit to NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience," observes producer Lorne Orleans. "He wasn't limited by expectations of what you can and cannot do with the tools, which meant he often made really wild suggestions like, 'Let's put the camera in the car.' And we managed to pull it off."

Wincer wanted to devise a way to put the IMAX audience in the driver's seat for a more visceral perspective than those provided via video monitors mounted inside cars for televised race coverage. (Video simply doesn't provide high enough resolution and image quality for the large format; additionally, because the racecars travel at such high speeds, when they corner, it's possible for the centripetal force to cause the tape to slip off the heads of the video recorders, making the footage unusable.)

"From the beginning, Simon said 'We've got to put the audience in the racecar. That's key,'" Hylton recalls. "Everyone said 'You can't do it, the camera is too big.' When you say we can't do it, that gets all of our guys excited to find a way to do it."

With the IMAX production requirement in mind, Jack Roush and his team at Roush Racing custom built a NASCAR car with a suspension equipped to handle the 600 pound weight of the 3D camera. Constructed with removable panels to enable six different camera positions, this special rig was used to capture the driver's point of view and low angles beside the car as it rocketed around the track. The result is an unprecedented glimpse into the racing experience.

"To say that the racing community was incredibly supportive of our production is an understatement, but the team at Roush Racing went above and beyond the call of duty," Orleans praises. "The footage we got from using that car literally puts the audience in the driver's seat of a NASCAR racecar. When you watch this sequence, you feel it in your gut."

To further enhance the audience's sense of being in the race, the production worked with Andy Hillenburg's (owner, operator and race car driver) Charlotte-based driving school called Fast Track, which provided a racecar rigged as a camera car that is used primarily for shooting racing-related commercials. Once the Fast Track team modified their platform slightly to support the larger-than-normal size and weight of the IMAX camera, the NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience crew mounted the camera and remote head onto the front of the car and counterbalanced it with lead weights placed on the back of the vehicle.

Driven by a professional instructor from Fast Track, the camera-mounted vehicle hit speeds up to 165 miles per hour with the camera remotely operated from inside the car by cinematographer James Neihouse, who was able to pan, tilt and track with the surrounding race action, capturing the driver's experience from multiple extreme points of view. "I was concentrating on a little monitor as I operated the camera," Neihouse describes. "Occasionally I'd look up and we'd be right in the middle of a pack of cars going at breakneck speed. I'm thinking, 'Can we fit through that hole? Oh, I guess we just did!'"

This special camera car setup was also used to recreate racing action in a controlled environment, in which the filmmakers could capture shots that would be too dangerous to attempt during a live race. The Richard Petty Driving Experience, a premier driving school featured in NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience, supplied many stock cars and drivers to the production for the controlled racing sequences. "Simon carefully thought out each of the shots he wanted to get to convey the speed and sensation of NASCAR racing, using the Fast Track camera rig and the cars provided by the awesome people at the Richard Petty Driving Experience," Orleans notes. "As a result, we were able to shoot some really exciting footage that puts you right in the heart of a race."

"This footage portrays NASCAR in its truest sense," says third generation NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "It's really exciting and really loud, which is exactly what it's like when you're inside the car."

"The racing details that are presented in NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience are phenomenal," Kurt Busch concurs. "The IMAX camera gives you a realistic perspective of all those aspects that we drivers see and have to digest during a race."

Wincer's inspiration for one of the film's most breathtaking shots came while driving around the track at Alabama's Talladega Super Speedway during a camera test. "I was doing 40 miles an hour around one of the banked turns and I felt like I was going to tip over because the banks are so steep," says the director of the 33 degree-angled turns.

"It's hard to explain how steep a 33 degree bank is, but you literally have to use your hands to climb up the track," Hylton elaborates. "When you're at the top of that bank, you're about four stories high looking down."

Wincer envisioned a shot that would be captured by a camera placed midway up the bank, set level with the flat straight-aways, as racecars barreled into the turn mere inches from the lens.

Due to concerns about the tremendous vibrations caused by the racecars, and the possibility that the cars going by at more than 165 miles per hour might blow the camera off the track, the crew bolted the IMAX 3D camera to the track. (Camera vibration would cause the image to jump up and down on the vast IMAX screens, rendering the footage unwatchable.) "The hardest part for our rigging and grip team was getting the camera halfway up the bank," Orleans reports. An elaborate system of ropes and pulleys was created to haul the camera up the bank. Once attached, the camera was operated using a remote as drivers sped past the equipment at enormous speeds.

Equally important to Wincer as putting audiences behind the wheel was finding a way to maneuver the unwieldy IMAX 3D camera to capture the high-speed action on and off the track without interfering with race personnel or spectators. "We had to get every shot on the fly," Wincer says. "That's easy when you're using handheld cameras, but with an IMAX 3D camera, it's a different situation entirely."

To keep pace with the spontaneous race action, Wincer and company also needed flexibility in camera transportation and positioning. "We needed to be able to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible with as little sweat as possible," says Neihouse. "When the opportunity arises to get an amazing shot, you've got to make it happen."

In order to achieve Wincer's vision for dynamic camera movement and simultaneously maximize race coverage, the production utilized a device called the Shotmaker, a sophisticated camera crane mounted on a truck platform that allowed the filmmakers to move, pan and truck with the action as needed. "Using the Shotmaker was ideal because we could move the camera very quickly, reposition it, elevate it and get high angles if someone got in our way all of a sudden," Wincer says.

"The Shotmaker was key to conveying the intensity of the sport as well as a great tool for camera crew mobility and production efficiency," Orleans adds. When filming a key race scene, the Shotmaker was positioned over the track with Neihouse astride it, operating the camera as cars zoomed toward and underneath him. Wincer sat atop the crane in close proximity during these shots, absorbing the tremendous vibration created by the thundering machines. "It's very exhilarating to be that close and yet feel safe," he declares.

Neihouse got even closer to the action during a test shoot in Richmond, where he actually lay on the track operating the camera as cars raced by, passing within inches of him and the IMAX equipment. As for the fear factor and sheer exhilaration involved, the experience "rates right up there with flying into volcanoes," says Neihouse, who began his accomplished large format career on the 1976 film Ocean and served as director of photography on the IMAX Dome film The Eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, which was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Short Documentary in 1980.

The Shotmaker was used extensively to capture racing action like the highly detailed operation performed by the pit crews, who change four tires per vehicle, refuel the cars and make crucial adjustments in less than 14 seconds. "When I take somebody to a NASCAR event who has never seen a live race before, the pit stop is the first thing I want them to experience because of how exciting and dangerous it is," Earnhardt Jr. reveals. "The pit crew's movements are choreographed down to each individual move that every person makes, and it's all done in this screaming, loud environment."

"Filming these pit stops is extremely challenging because the cars come tearing in and then they're gone," Hylton points out. "We captured several pit stops from the same car so that we could thoroughly cover all the activity that takes place in a matter of seconds."

"The IMAX footage of the action in the pits is as real as it gets," Jeff Gordon attests. "You're hearing lug nuts fly off the wheel. You can feel the pit crew's steps as they're running around the car. It's an awesome experience for fans. Heck, it was an awesome experience for me. I don't get to watch the pit crews in action other than from inside the car."

At the sprawling California Speedway in Fontana, the production captured Wincer's dream shot on film: all 43 racecars pitting at the same time. "It's a spectacular sequence," Wincer reveals. "It's amazing to see 43 cars ducking into an absolutely empty pit road at 55 miles per hour, then watch 43 crews change four tires and refuel in a matter of seconds before the racecars roar out of the pits."

Wincer and Neihouse also designed several aerial sequences for the film to depict the massive scale of a NASCAR event. At California Speedway, which attracts crowds of more than 130,000 spectators, merchandisers and race personnel, the production placed an IMAX camera in the nose of a Lear jet that flew in formation with a team of F-16 fighter jets as they performed a flyover during the National Anthem. IMAX cameras were also mounted on a gyro-stabilized helicopter using a rig called the SpaceCam, and on top of an industrial crane positioned approximately 150 feet above the main grandstand.

"I remember going down the back straightaway during the race and there's a helicopter flying 80 feet off the ground coming at me head-on," Jimmie Johnson remembers. "I'm thinking 'What in the world is this helicopter doing?' Then I see the huge ball on the front that's holding the IMAX camera. As I'm going by at 160 miles an hour, I realize Oh, they're shooting the IMAX film. And they're getting pretty close!"

At California Speedway, as with every other race covered by the production, the IMAX cameras attracted attention from the crowd — including attendee Arnold Schwarzenegger, who inspected the camera and chatted with Wincer during a setup in the drivers' meeting room. "Everyone associates IMAX with big," Wincer observes. "The fact that we were shooting an IMAX movie about NASCAR with the added element of 3D really blew the fans away. 'Wow! You hear that? Man, they're doing a movie about NASCAR in IMAX!'"

"Seeing the size of the IMAX cameras and the production crew, I knew this was going to be a big picture," says 2002 series champion Tony Stewart. "I didn't realize, until I was sitting in the IMAX Theatre, just how big the picture was going to be!"

The formidable 15/70 format requires a different composition than shooting for feature films and television, as Wincer explains: "When you look through a small camera viewfinder or you watch a shot on video replay, it's a miniscule version of the image that's going to end up on the IMAX screen. So the temptation is to shoot everything tighter than it needs to be. Shots that wouldn't look like close-ups in 35 millimeter appear incredibly close up on a screen eight stories high."

The stunning visual aspects of NASCAR as seen through NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience are complemented by a soundtrack that reproduces, in 12,000 watts of digital surround sound, the all-enveloping aural elements of a NASCAR race environment. "Sound is a critical part of the NASCAR and IMAX experience," Orleans attests. "At a race, you feel it in your gut. Your ribcage rattles. The sound of the engines has that kind of low rumble that a space shuttle launch has. Not only will the imagery of being in the car give you a huge visceral sensation, but the sound in those moments is going to rock people right out of their seats."

"When our racecars idle, there's a distinct crackle that they make because there's 850 horsepower we're trying to contain," Jimmie Johnson explains. "So when I saw shots of the cars racing by in the film, it gave me goosebumps. This movie made me think I was actually standing in the garage. So not only does the picture give you this amazing detail that makes you feel like you're there, the audio is totally realistic."

"When the film shows Rusty Wallace making a pit stop at Daytona," adds 2000 series Champion Bobby Labonte, "a crewmember throws a wrench down, and you can hear the wrench hit the ground. Details like that are important to conveying NASCAR racing in its truest sense."

IMAX soundtracks are typically constructed in post-production, but for NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience, sound recorders were on set every day to capture as many different perspectives of car and track sounds as possible. In post, the sound is separated and individually channeled to six different key speakers in the IMAX Theatres. "With our unique sound design, you will experience the sensation of cars speeding at you through the front speakers, then hear them rumbling past you as the sound travels to the back speakers, and meanwhile F-16 jets are blasting over your head. Your senses will tell you that you are there," Hylton says.

During a race, the sound level on the track is so overwhelming, it prompted Neihouse to rig an intercom system that he used to communicate with Wincer and the Shotmaker operators. When he was filming inside the Fast Track camera car, he utilized earplugs with speakers embedded in them that blocked out the deafening noise while allowing him to communicate with the production team.

"The mind-numbing sound combined with the speed and how close these cars are together is truly impressive," Wincer states. "It shows how amazing the drivers are. Their ability to drive at speeds reaching 200 miles per hour for three hours amid the noise and the distractions, and yet remain so focused, is extraordinary."

THE MEN BEHIND THE MACHINES: THE WORLD OF NASCAR DRIVERS

The top drivers in NASCAR are featured in various sequences throughout the film, which provides insight not only into their racing experience but to the extensive responsibilities that come with being a superstar athlete in America's most popular spectator sport. "Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are two of the revered superstars of NASCAR," says Hylton. "They each have an entourage surrounding them, because they can't go anywhere on their own without being absolutely smothered by fans, well-wishers and autograph seekers."


Jimmie Johnson (left) and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"These guys don't just turn up at the track on Sunday and jump in the car and do a race," Wincer cautions. "The demands on their time are mind-boggling."

A typical week for a driver includes extensive travel, public appearances, media interviews, charity work and sponsorship obligations, all in addition to working, practice, and qualifying with their crews at the race shops. Unlike athletes in most sports, NASCAR drivers are extremely accessible to their fans, often greeting spectators and signing autographs until moments before a race countdown begins.

The drivers' legendary accessibility to the fans is part of what makes NASCAR events so special to so many people. But as the phenomenon grows, it becomes more challenging for the drivers to preserve that kind of personal connection with their fans. "When I started working on racing in 1982, the sport was growing," recalls Goldberg. "Now the drivers are literal superstars, but they still have tried to maintain that accessibility, which really endears the sport to people. Fans feel like they're connected with these guys, that they are human, that they're real people, just like you and me."

The filmmakers created a sequence that depicts the drivers' numerous commitments and careful preparation as racetime approaches. "Everybody knows there is an element of danger to racecar driving, but can you imagine the headspace the drivers have to get into as they put on their helmets, climb into their cars and put up the netting on their windows?" Orleans muses. "This sequence conveys that tension beautifully."

"I've done a lot of work with the astronauts, and working with the NASCAR drivers and seeing how focused they are on their task reminded me of the astronauts," says Neihouse, who served as co-director and principal cinematographer on the seminal IMAX film Destiny In Space and has been an IMAX astronaut training manager and camera equipment integration supervisor for the space team since 1988. "Like the astronauts, the drivers have huge teams of people backing them up. They couldn't get around the track if it weren't for the pit crew, the haulers, all the people it takes to mount one of these race teams. Being able to show everything that goes into this sport was the coolest part of making this film for me."

"It's been incredible to see and be part of this project," says Jimmie Johnson. "If you want to know what it's really like to be a NASCAR driver, this film is a must-see experience."

INSIDE NASCAR: THE FANS, TEAMS AND RACE SHOPS

NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience not only transports audiences into the world of the drivers — the film also profiles the race teams that keep them on the track and the fans whose intense devotion fuels the phenomenon. Devoted fans, primarily families, spend days traveling hundreds of miles to camp out for a weekend and experience the intense atmosphere of the grueling competition. The most coveted spots for watching NASCAR races are down in the infield, as close to the action as you can get without actually being on the track. NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience takes these dedicated fans a step further into the racing world, traveling onto the track and behind the scenes to illuminate facets of the sport experienced only by the drivers and crews themselves.

To further document the authentic drama of NASCAR, the production filmed at various research, safety and testing environments, including NASCAR's new state-of-the-art Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. In these scenes, the film examines the science behind the speed: the intricacies of today's racing technology, the cutting-edge machines and the underlying physics that drivers depend on to propel them at breathtaking speeds while maneuvering within inches of their competitors.

"I felt it was really important that this film focus on the things that the fans don't see on Sunday at the racetrack or on television," notes Goldberg, "whether it be in the garage for qualifying or in the race shops during the construction of a car, the minute details and idiosyncrasies of everything that it takes to put a racecar on the track is remarkable."

The race shops, where cars are designed and built, provide insight into facets of the sport experienced only by the drivers and race teams. "The natural environment of the race shops, with the equipment they use to construct engines and chassis and roll cages, are rich with subject matter that lends itself to 3D," Goldberg says.

"The race shops are so big and they have so much depth, they're really fantastic to see in IMAX 3D," adds Wincer, who made full use of the 3D technology. "Audiences will see sparks and metal shavings flying at them as mechanics grind steel, weld and drill out car parts using high-tech computer controlled machines."

Filming inside the expansive race shops proved challenging for Neihouse and his lighting team, who used high-speed film stocks and upwards of 200,000 watts of light to illuminate the dense environments. "These shops are something — more than 200,000 square feet on average, and there are interesting things going on throughout," the cinematographer explains. "The main subject of a shot might be a car body being assembled, but you're also going to see all the activity going on in the background. To convey this in IMAX 3D, you want to have as much depth in the image as you can, so you have to light much brighter than you normally would."

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

SIMON WINCER (Director) has found equal success in the United States after ascending to the position of one Australia's most celebrated film and television directors.

In the summer of 1993, Wincer's Free Willy was a critical and commercial smash hit, which took in more than $200 million worldwide. For American television, Wincer directed the hugely successful epic miniseries, Lonesome Dove which ranks among the top dramatic programs ever screened in the U.S. Lonesome Dove was nominated for an incredible 18 Emmy Awards, winning seven, including Best Director for Wincer.

In 1999, Wincer directed P.T. Barnum for A&E starring Beau Bridges. The 4-hour special was nominated for Best Miniseries and Best Performance by an Actor at the 2000 Emmy Awards. Also in 2000, Simon's Crossfire Trail a Louis L'Amour Western starring Tom Selleck, became the highest rated movie ever screened on U.S. cable television. In January 2002, Simon's Monte Walsh starring Tom Selleck and Isabella Rosellini garnered ratings as the highest audience ever for a Friday night movie on cable and a combined three-night audience of 36 million.

In his native Australia, Wincer was the executive producer of The Man From Snowy River and director of Phar Lap. Wincer's other Australian features include Snapshot, Harlequin and The Lighthorsemen, the latter a huge historical spectacle about the last successful cavalry charge in history. Wincer's additional directing credits include the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Echo of Thunder starring Judy Davis (who was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance), The Phantom based on Lee Falk's comic book hero, Operation Dumbo Drop, D.A.R.Y.L., Quigley Down Under, Lightning Jack, for which he also served as a producer, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.

Wincer's most recent work includes directing The Young Black Stallion, Disney's first live action 15/70 film.

Born in Montreal, LORNE ORLEANS (Producer) majored in Communication Studies at Concordia University before setting out to learn his trade, working on music videos, television commercials, movies of the week, features and documentaries. Currently IMAX's Vice President of Film Production, Lorne has worked exclusively in the world of large format filmmaking for more than 15 years. His first 15/70 production was the 1986 Stephen Low documentary Beavers, on which he was given the grand title of Head Animal Wrangler.

In addition to overseeing IMAX's corporate film production activity, Lorne has taken on the roles of Line Producer, Producer and Executive in Charge of Production on such diverse projects as Flowers In The Sky, the first film shot using the unique IMAX Magic Carpet process and first shown at EXPO '90 in Osaka, Japan, Mountain Gorilla, shot on location in Rwanda, Fires of Kuwait, which received an Academy-Award nomination and Asteroid Adventure, IMAX's first movie ride shot with the revolutionary IMAX HD technology. Additional producing credits include Whalesong, The Hidden Dimension, Galapagos, China: The Panda Adventure, Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience and Star Wars: Episode 2 Attack of The Clones: The IMAX Experience.

Orleans' most recent project was executive-producing the television documentary Carry Me Home: The Story & Music of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, which won a Gemini Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Emmys.

DOUGLAS "DISCO" HYLTON (Producer) who got his nickname moonlighting as a Club DJ for more than 15 years, has worked at various studios throughout his Hollywood career. After graduating with an MBA, Hylton worked at Miramax with co-chairs Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Next Hylton took his skills over to HBO where he was involved with the award-winning films And The Band Played On, Stalin, The Burning Season, Barbarians at the Gate and The Late Shift. Hylton then moved on to TriStar Pictures where he had a hand in the production of such blockbusters as Jerry Maguire, As Good As it Gets, The Mask of Zorro, and My Best Friend's Wedding amongst others.

Hylton joined IMAX in 2001 as Vice President of Filmed Entertainment.

JAMES NEIHOUSE (Director of Photography) has been involved in the professional film and video business since his graduation from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1976, where he received his Bachelor of Arts. His credits include work on the large format films Ocean, The Great Barrier Reef, Hail Columbia!, The Dream Is Alive, Race the Wind, On the Wing, Blue Planet, Rolling Stones at the Max, Destiny In Space, Whales, L5: First City in Space, Mission to MIR, Michael Jordan to the Max, Ocean Oasis, Bears, India: Kingdom of the Tiger, Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees and Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey.

Neihouse was Director of Photography on the large format Dome film The Eruption of Mt. Saint Helens, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary in 1980. Neihouse also served as co-director and principal cinematographer on Destiny In Space, which opened at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in June 1994. Neihouse has also been an astronaut trainer and IMAX camera equipment integration supervisor for the space team since 1988.

In addition, Neihouse served as the Director of Photography for Space Station for which he was awarded NASA's highest astronaut honor, the Silver Snoopy, "for the many years of superlative support he has given--and continues to give--America's space program." Space Station also won the Giant Screen Theatre Association Film Award for Best Cinematography in 2002.

NEIL GOLDBERG (Executive Producer) has helped to create what is now FOX Sports signature NASCAR coverage. Since 1982, when Goldberg began his NASCAR association with ESPN, he helped shape the way NASCAR is seen by the fans and television viewers around the world.

Today Goldberg is the lead race producer for all of FOX Television productions of NASCAR on FOX, FOX Sports Net, F/X and Speed Channel. Integral to that assignment is the creation of the on-air look of FOX's NASCAR coverage.

Contributing to the race-paced advancements of computer driven technologies, Goldberg plays a major role in keeping NASCAR's live television coverage ahead of the technology curve. Working with all of the major technology providers, virtually every technological advancement on ESPN and FOX Sports' NASCAR television coverage has been impacted in some way by Goldberg's input. The television coverage of NASCAR is the most technologically advanced and challenging for its producers. Goldberg's contributions can be seen and heard with real-time computer interfaced graphics, live in-car cameras and audio relays common to every NASCAR telecast.

Goldberg has also helped to develop many of today's top NASCAR talent, such as Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons, Jerry Punch and many more. Goldberg's relationships with drivers and team owners has been responsible for delivering and discovering many new on-air talent for television.

Goldberg is the recipient of many Sports Emmy Awards and other important industry recognitions. He frequently produces for ESPN's X-Game coverage and has directed and/or produced dozens of other entertainment and sporting events.

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

KIEFER SUTHERLAND (narrator) currently stars in the critically acclaimed FOX drama, "24," for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series and garnered an Emmy Nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series, as well as a recent Golden Globe nomination.

Sutherland recently wrapped production on the film Taking Lives, opposite Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. Sutherland was last seen in the FOX film, Phonebooth, directed by Joel Schummaker, released in 2003. Last year, Sutherland completed production on Paradise Found, directed by Mario Andreazcchio where he portrays the world famous post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin.

Recently, Sutherland was seen in the limited release World War II drama To End All Wars. The screenplay is based on the best-selling book, Through the Valley of the Kwai, which is an account of life as a POW in a Southeast Asian prison camp. The film also stars Robert Carlyle, Ciaran McMenarrin and Mark Strong, and successfully screened at both the Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals this year. He will also be seen in Dead Heat, directed by Mark Malone.

In 1998, Sutherland was seen starring in Showtime's critically-acclaimed original picture, "A Soldier's Sweetheart" with Skeet Ulrich and Georgina Cates, which made its premiere at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival's Gala Screening.

In 1997, Sutherland co-starred with William Hurt and Rufus Sewell in the Newline production, Dark City. Directed by Alex Proyas, Dark City was a special presentation at the Cannes Film Festival. Sutherland also added his second directorial credit and starred in Truth or Consequences for Triumph Films alongside Kevin Pollak, Mykelti Williamson, Rod Steiger and Martin Sheen.

In the 1996 Paramount thriller, Eye for an Eye, directed by John Schlesinger, Sutherland portrayed an unremorseful, brutal murderer opposite Sally Field and Ed Harris. Later that summer, he co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey in the screen adaptation of John Grisham's novel, A Time to Kill.

In 1993, Sutherland starred in Touchstone Pictures' The Three Musketeers, based on the classic tale by Alexandre Dumas. The same year, he made his directorial debut in the critically acclaimed Showtime film "Last Light," in which he also starred opposite Forest Whitaker. "Last Light" garnered some of the most glowing reviews that any cable production has received in a long time, especially for Sutherland's directing.

Sutherland's first major role was in the Canadian drama, Bad Boy, which earned Sutherland and director Daniel Petrie Genie award nominations for best actor and best director, respectively. Following his success in The Bad Boy, Sutherland eventually moved to Los Angeles and landed television appearances in "The Mission," an episode of "Amazing Stories" and in the telefilm "Trapped in Silence" with Marsha Mason.

In 1992, Sutherland starred opposite Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker in Orion Pictures' Article 99, and in Castlerock's military drama A Few Good Men, also starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. Later, in 1994, he starred with Jeff Bridges and Nancy Travis in the American version of The Vanishing for 20th Century Fox.

Sutherland's other film credits include Flatliners, Chicago Joe and the Showgirl, 1969, Flashback, Young Guns, Young Guns 2, Bright Lights, Big City, The Lost Boys, Promised Land, At Close Range, and Stand By Me.

Sutherland resides in Los Angeles.

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