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WDK Motorsports plays key role in Ron Howard's film Rush
IT is a high-octane drama that is winning praise from film critics before it opens in UK cinemas tomorrow.
Already tipped to be a contender at the Oscars, Rush charts the real-life rivalry between two motor racing legends as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance.
But it is the faithful recreation of the sport’s most glamorous era, the 1970s, where drivers diced with death on a daily basis, which has set pulses racing.
The realism of the film is largely thanks to Hampshire racing car renovators WDK Motorsports.
The firm, which employs 17 staff at its base near Stockbridge, not only supplied the real cars driven by James Hunt and Niki Lauda, but also made replicas – as well as advising on period detail.
Managing director Ian Cox said his team, led by mechanic Matt Burn, spent 53 days with the film crew and multiple Oscar winning director Ron Howard, the man behind Apollo 13 and the Da Vinci Code.
He said: “We were a big part of the film. It was a chance of a lifetime opportunity from a business point of view and to be able to lend our expertise was brilliant.
“We were surprised at the size of the film.”
The company restores classic racing cars, mostly fromthe 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, as well as making its own parts and replicas.
Cars are kept at the site for repairs, including a genuine M23 McLaren raced by Hunt, who died aged 45 of a heart attack in 1993. They were used for the film which follows him battling his nemesis Lauda for the 1976 Formula 1 world championship.
When the filmmakers approached them, Ian said the firm was guarded about becoming involved, fearing their technical advice would be ignored by a bossy director.
But he said Ron Howard was eager to have the team of mechanics in the driving seat when it came to authenticity.
Ian said: “Ron is a professional and knows we are professionals. He listens and understands.”
The company’s priceless tips on period detail involved recreating all the kit and tools laying around at pit stops and paddocks and even making sure the sound crew used the sound of the real machines during the editing process.
Lead actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays the British playboy driver, also lent a close to the ear team’s massive bank of knowledge, including inside anecdotes about Hunt’s real life personality.
“He wanted us to tell him everything, we worked with him a lot”, Ian said.
The company also exclusively used Southampton based Livewire Tyres for supplying and servicing the classic Formula 1 wheels and tyres.
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