The Art of Racing in the Rain—The Movie

The Art of Racing in the Rain—The Movie

by | Sep 17, 2019

The movie version of The Art of Racing in the Rain, is set to be released to theaters August 9th. Local author Garth Stein’s wildly popular book from 2008, has sold 30 million copies in a number of languages.

The movie rights were acquired by Universal Pictures in 2009 with Patrick Dempsey slated to be the lead. Eventually, the movie, after a lack of progress, was acquired by Disney, who has completed the project. Dempsey is a producer but does not appear in the film.

Author Stein’s novel is actually mostly non-fiction. The main character, Denny Swift, is in real life chapter member Kevin York. Kevin now lives in Virginia with his family but the events of the book are largely true and took place in Seattle. During this period, Kevin’s worked at BMW Seattle when they were on Capitol Hill and later at Car Tender, where the real-life scene of the Seattle Police coming to Kevin’s place of work occurred. Kevin’s wife died and he had a terrible custody battle with his ex-in-laws. The real ending was less happy than the book makes it, but generally the story line is true with the exception of the preposterous ending, when Denny earns a spot on the Ferrari Formula 1 Team. Given that Kevin started his racing career at our chapter high performance driving events, you may think there is a chance you’ll make it to Formula 1. Sorry to break this to you, it isn’t going to happen.

Back to the book. While the fact pattern was lifted from real life, the construct of telling the story through a dog, is Stein’s invention and responsible for much of the book’s charm and popularity. Since people seem to think of their dogs as people these days, having a book about a dog that studies in order to become human in his next life, seems like a sure-fire way to sell books.

The trailer for the movie is out. There are many things to like. A BMW E9 coupe is included. There is footage of a beautiful vintage Ferrari, wearing Washington plates, on the backside of Pacific Raceway. The Turner Motorsports cars and team are featured racing BMWs. The story does take place in Seattle and the trailer includes a shot on the soon-to-be-gone viaduct.

What’s not to like? Well, ProFormance Driving School owner Don Kitch plays himself in the movie. He did write the student handout called, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” And the movie, to the extent you can tell from a trailer, seems to have completely abandoned the story line of the book. It appears to be a heart-warming tale of a special dog, racing and falling in love. You don’t remember that in the book? Me either.