Four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti says he's never witnessed a snail race in person, but his career experiences still came in handy as a technical consultant for the DreamWorks animated feature film, "Turbo."
The movie, which opened Wednesday in theaters nationwide, is about the eponymous garden snail who dreams of going faster. When a freak accident leaves Turbo with the superpower of speed, the snail turns his attention towards winning the greatest test of speed in the world -- the Indianapolis 500-mile race.
While a suspension of disbelief is mandatory when dealing with a snail competing in an event designed for purpose-built race cars, DreamWorks tabbed real-life Indianapolis 500 winners Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti as creative consultants tasked with making the racing scenes as realistic as possible.
For his part, Franchitti is just thrilled that DreamWorks has decided to include IndyCar in its animated universe.
"It's absolutely important that they've decided to base the movie around the Indianapolis 500," Franchitti told SB Nation via telephone. "There are so many young people that haven't been exposed to IndyCar racing yet, and this puts us out there and lets us show them what we're about in a really charming and fun way."
Andretti, the 1969 500-mile race winner and arguably the most recognized American racer of all time, sees Turbo in a similar light.
"It's going to be such a fun little movie and I applaud the producers for putting in the extra effort to make this really authentic," Andretti told SB Nation the weekend of this year's Indy 500.
Both veteran drivers were brought into the fold early in the process and were instrumental to crafting authentic racing scenes.
"My role wasn't so much creative as it was confirming the nuts and bolts of the races Turbo tries to win," Franchitti said. "Indianapolis is such a distinct and iconic place that I felt like it was very important that they make the racing and facility as realistic as possible and to be honest, once you get past the idea of a snail racing against Indy cars -- I think they did a very good job."
At the time of the interview, Franchitti hadn't seen the complete finished product but had seen a longer, less-cut version of the film and gave it his approval. When asked what other tracks Turbo should visit if there is ever a sequel, Franchitti suggested that Turbo go international and tackle some of the great road and street courses in open-wheel history.
"There are some great places Turbo could go race at," Franchitti said. "They've got the potential but everything has to come together -- but you've got to think of places like Monaco or Laguna Seca. But Indy is such an iconic place that it has to meet the expectations established in this first movie."
Andretti sympathizes with the titular character and believes he has the potential to inspire a brand new generation of Indy car fans.
"I remember growing up and holding this place (Indianapolis) in such high regard," Andretti said. "And I think this movie is going to capture the imagination and dreams of a younger generation -- something this sport could use a great deal. I can't wait to see it and the reaction to it."
The movie features the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Dr. Ken Jeong and more. Franchitti, Andretti and Team Penske driver Will Power also have cameo voice roles. Andretti plays a member of the Speedway Safety Patrol, while Franchitti and Power portray journalists.