Three nights before celebrating the opening of its golden anniversary season, Sycamore Speedway will appear on the silver screen in New York and Los Angeles.
“At Any Price,” a father-son farming/stock car racing drama starring Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, was filmed in part at the speedway in Maple Park. The film, which has not yet been assigned a nationwide release date, premieres on the coasts April 24. Sycamore Speedway is set to begin its 50th season of racing April 27.
Speedway owner Julie Fabrizius Andrews and company welcomed the cast and crew of “At Any Price” during filming in late 2011 and 2012. The movie finished production in October, and since has made the film festival rounds, including last week’s screening at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
“We were very open to it,” Andrews said. “We didn’t really even make any money from it. We just did it for being in the film.”
Director Ramin Bahrani contacted Andrews in 2011 about using the track, citing its rural midwest location. Most of the farm scenes were filmed in Iowa, where “At Any Price” is set.
The premise involves a rebellious Efron aspiring to a racing career when the prospect of being a seventh-generation family farm owner pales in comparison.
“I’m not staying here, dad,” Efron’s Dean Whipple tells his father, Henry (Quaid) in dialogue featured in the movie’s trailer. “I’m racing cars.”
“You’re not going to make it in the big leagues,” Quaid browbeatingly advises later. “Take the land; it’s in your blood.”
Several Speedway drivers and fans were used as assistants, consultants or extras.
St. Charles resident Tim Ludke, the track’s defending Late Models champion, moonlighted as a stunt driver when Bahrani opted for someone with more driving experience than the regular stunt crew. Crews attached a camera to Ludke’s car and he cooperated as needed, including a rollover scene.
“I never saw any of it, but from what the director and everyone were saying, it looked pretty good,” Ludke said. “Hopefully, they weren’t lying.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.