With Old Glory again flying over the American Embassy building for the first time in over half a century, there's renewed interest in all things Cuba. And for vintage car enthusiasts, that means the eventual possibility of a firsthand look at the one thing the Pearl of the Antilles is best known or - Classic American rides.
Meanwhile, for speed-loving children of the Revolution, those storied American-made machines are much more than simple modes of transportation. They represent freedom, thrill and the competitive spirit, as beautifully illustrated in the new documentary, Havana Motor Club.
Says the film's website: "Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, Havana Motor Club captures a nation at a crossroads. Changing international relationships and economic reforms have offered unprecedented opportunity to Cubans, but left the children of the Revolution unsure of the best route forward. For the half-dozen racers at the heart of Perlmutt's film, this means last-minute adjustments or wholesale changes to their beloved cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned drag race in Cuba since 1960."
Auto racing had been a favorite Cuban tradition for decades, typified by the Cuban Grand Prix of the late 1950s. But revolutionary leader Fidel Castro declared the practice elitist and outlawed racing indefinitely. Of course, that didn't stop the true lovers of racing. Over the years, an underground automotive community developed with gearheads across Cuba scrapping together old parts or fabricating new ones to get the maximum performance out of their aging American muscle cars.
Havana Motor Club chronicles the efforts of a few of Cuba's most colorful characters of the underground racing circles to prepare for the history-making race while enthusiasts and organizers look for ways to legitimize the sport and bring the excitement of Cuban racing back to the people as Cuban-American relations undergo a new transformation.
Havana Motor Club has played the film festival circuit and plans are underway for a theatrical release later this year. In the meantime, see the trailer below and post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.