Smoke, Sand & Rubber

Reel NW

Smoke, Sand & Rubber

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Former midget race car driver in his 80s gets behind the wheel for the first time in 54 years.

About the Film

About the Film"Smoke, Sand, & Rubber" is a documentary about 86-year-old midget race car driver Mel Anthony, who gets behind the wheel for the first time in more than 50 years. Filled with vivid stories from Anthony and vintage racing footage from the '40s and '50s at Seattle's now-vanished Aurora Speedway, "Smoke, Sand & Rubber" suggests that once you get the racing bug, it's with you forever.

About the Filmmaker

About the FilmmakerGreg Brotherton grew up in Kent, Washington, and attended Evergreen State College in Olympia. In 2005, he started writing film scripts and making short movies to inform that process. He completed his first documentary, "Finding Playland," about Seattle’s former Playland Amusement Park, in 2008. He wrote and directed the narrative feature "Render Me Dead" in 2009, then returned to the documentary form with "Smoke, Sand & Rubber" in 2010.


Brotherton is currently working on a documentary about the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Olympic Peninsula. More information on all his projects is available at his website.



Filmmaker's Statement

As a new filmmaker living near Bitter Lake in Seattle, I’ve been learning about my neighborhood by exploring its heritage through film. The Northwest part of the city has long suffered from a lack of identity. Until I moved there, I didn’t even consider it part of Seattle.


My exploration started with my first film, "Finding Playland," which looks into this grand amusement park that was a stone’s throw from my house until 1962 and which has since disappeared without a trace. In discovering the heritage of my new neighborhood I grew more and more connected to it and for my next film decided to explore the Aurora Speedway Stadium, a ¼-mile racetrack next door to Playland Amusement Park.


I partnered with the Shoreline Historical Museum for the Playland movie and again for the Speedway movie. I looked through their expansive archives and read a self-published memoir about racing in the Pacific Northwest the museum had for sale called "Smoke, Sand & Rubber." The memoir was written by Mel Anthony, a Seattle race car driver from the 1940s and '50s.


That's when I started to get lucky. First, I met Mel, who was not only a consummate storyteller, but was also getting a car ready to start racing again, at age 86. Then, the daughter of Earl Heroux, the Aurora Speedway Stadium promoter, donated three hours of archival 16mm footage of the racetrack from the '40s and '50s to the museum.


At that point I knew had to make the film "Smoke, Sand, & Rubber," which would connect the heritage of the neighborhood and racing in the Northwest to Mel Anthony and his return to racing with The Golden Wheels and West Coast Vintage Racers.

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