In the late 90s Kiwi treasures The Topp Twins (aka Lynda and Jools Topp) created their own TV series. Over three seasons it showcased their iconic cast of Kiwi characters and singing and yodelling talents. These excerpts from the second season feature a country and western saloon musical dream sequence (with fluffy pink slippers, feather boas and sharpshooters and car sharks in drag). Meanwhile Camp Mother and Ken Moller compete at the speedway in a bambina and a Hillman Hunter respectively.
Champion speedway driver Ivan Mauger powered and slid his motorbike around oval tracks to a record six world speedway titles from 1968 to 1979. In this documentary Mauger and his family recall his long career, from his boy racer beginnings — he argues that in Spain the heroes are bullfighters, but in Christchurch they were speedway riders — to his Western Springs farewell. David Lange also pays tribute. Mauger's focus on winning shines through: "if you show me a good loser, you show me someone who consistently loses". Mauger passed away in Australia on 16 April 2018.
Tom Gould’s short film documents the life of Martyka ‘Skin’ Brandt — Mongrel Mob gangster, speedway driver and devoted solo father to 10 children (four of his own, six fostered). Brandt was a rare Pākehā who joined the Mob in the 70s. His stereotype-defying life spans escaping from Sunnyside mental institution as a teen, violence and ‘Mongrelism’, then transformation via parenthood. NYC-based Kiwi Gould filmed Skin in Brandt’s Napier home. Skin won international attention as a Vimeo Staff Pick, Short of the Week, and selection in Dazed magazine’s ‘Doc X’ strand.
This motors and mullets documentary focuses on a group who are obsessed by stock car racing. Shot by Stuart Dryburgh (Once Were Warriors) and Richard Scott, it follows a group of drivers and their crews and families, as they ready for Saturday night racing at Onehunga's Waikaraka Park Speedway. Hours are spent preparing and repairing the one-and-a-half tonne cars, which travel at up to 112 kilometres an hour in one of the few full contact motor sports. Passion, ego and cunning fuel the drama. Injuries and personal sacrifices are the price for the part-time petrol heads.
Matt Heath and Chris Strapp dragged their characters from bogan TV series Back of the Y to the big screen for this movie, which follows Randy Cambell's rocket car driven mission to be "New Zealand’s greatest living stuntman". Gross and petrol-fuelled mayhem ensues, as Cambell romances a one-legged female Evil Knievel and fights a family curse. Scott Weinberg (Cinematical) praised this "cross between The Road Warrior, Mad Magazine and Jackass" as "loud, raucous and adorably stupid" when it premiered at US festival South by Southwest in 2007.
Brooke Clarkson races stock cars — a rare female in a male-dominated motorsport. After growing up watching her dad and uncle race, taking to the track herself seemed only natural. In this short documentary, Clarkson and her family are interviewed about the challenges she’s faced to get to the top, from her mother’s concerns, to outsiders arguing that girls shouldn’t be racing — they'll just get hurt. Now, at only 18 years old, she is racing one of the top stock cars in the country. The soundtrack includes ‘She Speeds’ — the classic track from Dunedin band Straitjacket Fits.
Director Florian Habicht's follow-up to his offbeat fairytale Woodenhead is a documentary tribute to a community of characters, drawn together by a desire to jump in a car for the local demolition derby. Behind the bangs, prangs, and blow-ups, the heart and soul of a small Far North town — Kaikohe — is laid bare in this full-length film, thanks to a cast of fun-loving, salt of the earth locals. Kaikohe Demolition won rave reviews, and The Listener named it one of the ten best films of 2004. Filmmaker Costa Botes writes about the film's characters and qualities here.
In the late 1980s, Kiwi John Britten developed and built a revolutionary racing motorcycle. He pursued his dream all the way to Daytona International Speedway in Florida. In 1991 the underdog inventor came second against the biggest and richest manufacturers in the world. Britten: Backyard Visionary documents the maverick motorcycle designer as he and his crew rush to create an even better bike for the next Daytona. After arriving in Florida, another all-nighter is required to fix an untested vehicle with many major innovations. Costa Botes writes about the documentary here.
This classic video takes a band, then throws them in the back of a moving vehicle as they try to play their song without falling over. Greg Page, a music video veteran ('Verona', 'Stop the Music'), remembers that "the concept was enormous, but sadly unrealised. But what we ended up with was a piece of magic I've never quite been able to reproduce." He talks about making this and another D4 video in a single weekend, here.
Lynda Topp is half of the Topp Twins, the singing sisters who have plucked their way across the country and the globe with their unique brand of comedy and country music. 2009 Topp Twins documentary Untouchable Girls is the most successful local doco released to date in local cinemas. In 2014 the twins presented TV series Topp Country, which became the third most watched local programme of the year.