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MIPTV Hot Pick: Big Red

BIG-RED-©-Red-Craft-LLC-&-all3media-internationalCar formats are a big deal at the moment, with stalwarts such as Top Gear among the biggest shows in the world, and a glut of new offerings coming to market.

Among these is US series Big Red: The Original Outlaw Racer. Over eight parts it examines the legacy of the 1969 Chevy Camaro, one of the most iconic muscle cars in automotive history.

In the series, racing driver R.J. Gottlieb, drives the Chevy, which has a maximum speed of 230mph, across the US.

Big Red hails from US indie Red Craft, whose exec producer Josh Oliver says the inspiration for the show came from an article in Hot Rod Magazine that dates back over 25 years.

“It told the story told of an 18-year-old driver [Gottlieb] who had just completed a race in the deserts of Nevada, where he piloted the car to finish the race in first place, and averaged 200 miles per hour over a 90-mile stretch of open highway,” he says. “The idea for a ‘Big Red‘ Camaro documentary popped into my head, so I reached out to R.J. through his website.”

Gottlieb duly replied, and with Oliver started work on the doc about his car and its legacy. At the beginning, Big Red had the makings of a vanity piece, or passion project. “I think that R.J. thought that we would simply be getting extremely beautiful shots of his car in various racing situations,” says Oliver.

It turned into, however, a doc tackling bigger issues, Oliver says: “I saw something more and took a traditional documentary approach with the thesis: ‘What compels a young man to risk life and limb to drive a car to such an extreme?’ If the answer was ‘the recklessness of youth,’ then why would he still be doing it at age 40?”

Indeed, Gottlieb still races and Big Red draws crowds in any event in which it appears, meaning a ready-made audience of Camaro fans, and petrolheads in general.

The producers are also seeking out a more general audience while retaining the integrity motoring fans will demand. “When we started this project the number one goal was to be authentic, because it is the petrolhead that will see right through us if it were not,” Oliver says. “Additionally, we wanted to give the show a broader appeal, and when you watch the show it takes you places, it will give you thrills and chills down your spine, but you’ll also come away with a little better understanding of the mechanics, science and technology that it takes to make a car like Big Red reach the speeds that it does.”

Filming began in 2010, when the producers started tracking the story of the builder of Big Red’s engine, Larry Mollicone.

Oliver recounts the schedule thereafter: “Things got really serious starting in March 2011 when we took a new record at the Texas Mile, and following that we ran a harrowing hill climb road race in a historic silver mining town. This began an aggressive racing schedule that didn’t slow down until late 2015 when we wrapped up season one of the show.”

All3Media International picked up the rights to the series, which will be on the NBC Sports Network in the US. It will be a major launch at MIPDoc and MIPTV.

The show: Big Red: The Original Outlaw Racer
The producer: Red Craft
The distributor: All3Media International
The broadcaster: NBC Sports Network
The Concept: Series following racing driver R.J. Gottlieb as he takes his classic muscle car across the US