DreamWorks' Turbo film is a key to attracting a younger fanbase

The new animated film about a super-powered garden snail who competes in the Indianapolis 500 opened in theaters nationwide on Wednesday.

On it's own merits, "Turbo" is an entertaining family film that just happens to center around IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. But as a platform for reaching a younger demographic and new audience, the DreamWorks cartoon could be the foundation for building IndyCar's future.

The movie is about a garden snail who obtains the superpower of speed and dreams of someday winning the greatest test of velocity and endurance in the world -- the Indianapolis 500.

The IndyCar front office was first notified about the concept during the summer of 2010, when a representative from Mattel -- a mutual partner to both DreamWorks and IndyCar -- reached out to IndyCar VP of marketing Kasey Coler and outlined the plot points for a movie that would ultimately become "Turbo."

"Through our contact from Mattel, we found out that Jeffrey Katzenberg (DreamWorks CEO) was working on this project about the racing garden snail and that they wanted to use the most prestigious race out there -- The Indy 500 as a backdrop," Coler told SB Nation over the telephone on Wednesday.

"Once we heard the pitch for ourselves, we knew that it embodied the spirit of what the Indianapolis 500 was all about and we threw our full support behind it."

After the success of Pixar's "Cars," another animated feature that placed a heavy emphasis on NASCAR personalities (remember "The King" or Jeff Gorvette), this movie could have followed a similar formula and found success but DreamWorks and Katzenberg wanted "the most historic race" and the "pinnacle of motorsports" and chose the 500-mile Race.

The relationship should be beneficial for the IndyCar Series, too.

The movie will spearhead the league's continuing efforts to reach a younger fan base, designing the marketing strategy as an introductory field to IndyCar racing and the just introduced STEM initiative.

STEM is an acronym for the academic fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In other words, the movie will be used to enhance classroom education about each of the fields important to open-wheel motorsports.

"We're in year one of STEM and we're calling it the future of fast," Coler said. "And this movie is leading the way. With partners like Jostens, we're taking STEM to the classroom, locally at first, and then around the country and IndyCar is footing the bill so the schools don't face the burden. "

Coler explained that the plan is to ultimately get students acclimated to IndyCar racing in the classroom and then allowing them to take their skills to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in field trips as a way to culture students in the discipline of IndyCar racing at a young age.

So while "Turbo" was designed for current gearheads to cherish, don't be surprised to hear the next generation of diehards citing Turbo as their reason for tuning in as well.

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