How would you fare as a race car driver? It’s a question I know I’ve asked myself many times, and most race fans will have done so, too. Frank DePew, though, has been out here living that dream, and you can relive his first year of competition alongside him in a new documentary called Rookie Season.
In late 2018, businessman Frank DePew — CEO and founder of Urban Grid, a solar farm company — bought out the assets of an IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge team called Rebel Rock Racing. With the money under his belt, DePew wanted to prove himself as a competitive racer, and he hired director Adrian Bonvento to document the entirety of his 2019 rookie season.
DePew hired experienced racer Robin Liddell as his co-driver, and together the two experience a slew of twists and turns that include both crashes and victories. Bonvento was there the whole way, camera at hand, whether it be in the engineering room, during an interview, or on the track.
Rookie Season, above all, does an exceptional job of showing us Average Joes what it would be like if we just so happened to have a chance to compete professionally. We, like DePew, would likely be in an uncomfortable frame of mind before our debut race at Daytona. We’d probably crash a few times, and we’d probably have no one but ourselves to blame. We would definitely have to take a lot of advice from our more experienced teammates — but we would also probably be waxing poetic about just what it’s like to attain higher and higher speeds and the adrenaline-fuelled urge to find the limit.
The documentary features stunning cinematography and gorgeous ambient race car noise, so you get this feeling that you’re there in the garage or in the cockpit, experiencing this all alongside the Rebel Rock Racing team.
I think most of us race fans are probably familiar with the glitzier documentaries about motorsport. Things like Drive to Survive or Truth in 24 give us a peek into a slightly more glamorous world. Rookie Season, though, feels more down to earth about the way most folks experience racing. Yes, Rebel Rock Racing is still competing in a top-tier series, but there’s a bit of a down-home feel afforded by the smaller nature of a Pilot Challenge team. This isn’t a sprawling, ultra-international affair; it’s a close group of passionate people all fighting for the same goal, and the documentary approaches it from a more philosophical angle than a competitive one. It’s a must-watch for my fellow race fans out there.
You can stream Rookie Season on multiple platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV, and YouTube.