America is the story of dreams. It guarantees every living person on earth the inherent right to give the pursuit of happiness a fair shot. Many have succeeded, many have failed, but not even one is deprived of the chance to achieve and overcome. This is the essence of dirt track racing, the subject of FloSports' hit docuseries Dirt: The Last Great American Sport. It is an all-American story told with a substantial amount of blood, sweat, grease, and yes – music.
"The show is called The Last Great American Sport because we feel that it is a sport where, in racing, anybody can kind of just save up their money, build a car in the garage, take it to a track, and they can race with the best guys in the world," said Paul Gandersman, Video Production Director at FloSports and one of the show's lead producers in an exclusive interview with APM Music.
Watch the full interview.
This unique aspect of dirt track racing, where anybody with some saved-up money, an intense desire to compete, and a big dream to win can just race with the best in the world, is not present in other motor racing circuits like NASCAR, as well as other sports like pro basketball, football, and baseball.
"It's really like the American dream," Gandersman continued.
The compelling show is a joy to watch, especially for people who have no idea what dirt track racing is or even motorsports in general. It immediately takes the audience straight into the driver's seat by keeping them glued, not only to the drivers' stories, which include the biggest name in the sport, Kyle Larson, but also to the culture of the racing community and the dangerous nature of the competition.
The filmmaking is so close and intense that viewers can smell the odor of tire burns and the intoxicating scent of petrol fumes in their living rooms. In addition, the masterful mix of sounds from the racetracks made up of revved-up motor engines, the characters' voices, the roaring crowds, and the uncanny addition of classical music brings the whole experience into a higher plane. Immersive is the right word to describe this incredible show.
Producing a show like Dirt: The Last Great American Sport must have been a tremendous task with all the logistical and safety issues on the tracks.
"Dirt track is a very difficult sport to film, especially at certain tracks, (where) you can only see a quarter of the track a time," Gandersman said. "We can't just have one camera if we want to tell the story of what's going on in this race. We can't just have one camera that's pointed to one-quarter of the track. We have cameras at each corner. We have a drone flying. 3 GoPros on each of our main character's cars, we've got a broadcast camera, all these different angles, and trying to shoot it and be ready for anything at any time – it's almost like planning to go to war. Your body is also covered in dirt. But it's so rewarding."
No risk, no reward indeed. Yet, with the complexities of the filmmaking, the entire ideation process only took a couple of months, a true testament to FloSports's impeccable production chops.
"We saw this opportunity about two months before one of the biggest dirt racing events of the year, so this was in late 2021. In January of 2022, an event in Oklahoma called 'The Chili Bowl' is like a crown jewel race. We figured, well, if we want to make a show about dirt racing, we must be at the crown jewel race of the sport," Gandersman said. "So, we got it together pretty darn quick, got a crew together, and figured everything out, and we were filming there in early January."
On the music side of things, Gandersman and team, after careful deliberation, decided to combine Classical music with Americana, an unusual choice since Debussy does not necessarily invoke visions of dirt as much as Mahler doesn't conjure thoughts of mufflers, yet it all works amazingly well.
"We were focused on elevating the sport and treating it with the reverence it deserves and educating a new audience on what the sport is, so the classical music aspect, which you see in a lot of episodes and a lot of races kind of like shows people that this is so much like It kind of subconsciously tells them this is more than just whatever you might think it is," Gandersman said. "Classical music signifies that dirt track racing is a brainy sport – you got to be really smart to drive a race car. The Americana aspect was really leaning towards the Last American Sport – fans camp out – it's their lifestyle. Building it, achieving it."
The show's music was sourced entirely from APM Music's vast and deep catalog of Classical and Americana tracks.
"We used APM for everything. Every single track in it, which was great, especially with all the tracks having stems," Gandersman said." We've used a bunch of different music platforms in the past, and APM is the only one that all our editors have just been consistently finding awesome tracks and being able to just like fill a need and edit but make the edit better because of those stems."
Watch the five-episode docuseries.