Turbo Director David Soren

First in a series leading up to the July 17 release

“Turbo” is a 3D computer-animated feature film that will appeal to a broad demographic and – as director David Soren notes – will resonate with all racing fans.

The DreamWorks Animation film distributed by 20th Century Fox about a garden snail whose dreams about competing in the Indianapolis 500 come true opens in theaters July 17. A New York premiere is July 9.

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Soren’s own dream was realized with production of his first full-length feature that includes an all-star cast and a few INDYCAR-related surprises. The inspirations, he said, were his son's collection of diecast cars and a snail issue he had in the family's front yard.

“The vision of slowness and speed in my universe at home was the catalyst,” said Soren, whose previous DreamWorks Animation film credits as a story artist include “Shrek” and “Over The Hedge.” "This was an idea that I pitched the studio a long time ago and INDYCAR came on board after we decided that ‘Turbo’s’ dream would be to race in the Indy 500. This is the ultimate race.

“I’m thrilled that the movie has come out as well as it has, and I think it really represents the sport well.”

Turbo director David SorenThe IZOD IndyCar Series, many of its partners and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are prominent throughout. Researching the film, Soren and his crew attended the 2011 and ’12 Indianapolis 500 “to really mine all the details that this place has to offer.”

“We wanted it to (depict) the real race, and we wanted it to feel like the real race. So we came here and we did our homework,” he said. “When you have a snail that can go 200 mph, I wanted everything else in the movie to be grounded in reality.

“The race itself is the culmination of the movie. The attention to detail had to be there and I wanted the sport to feel authentic. It’s the real race in the movie and we had to represent it that way.”

Four-time series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti was a technical consultant, and he was “blown away” by the authenticity of the racing – down to the size in relation to Turbo of the tire wear “marbles” on the racetrack – and the look and feel of the historic venue and the cars.

Ryan Reynolds voices the title character Theo, whose existence is dramatically altered after he acquires super speed through a freak encounter with an internal combustion engine in Los Angeles. The multi-cultural cast also includes the voices of Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Lion, Maya Rudolph and Michael Pena.

“We started with Turbo and Ryan was on the top of the list. He had just been named People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man of the Year,’ ’’ Soren said. “At first, I had my doubts that he would say yes, but the first thing out of his mouth was that he couldn’t wait to be a snail.

“Then we cast his brother and we wanted him to be the polar opposite so we got Paul Giamatti. You couldn’t ask for a better actor than Paul because it’s a tricky character. He’s a naysayer and he has to be likable even when he’s being negative and Paul’s fantastic.

“Then Michael’s (Pena) character, Tito, was the next cast. We had to line up these two dreamer types in Turbo and Tito this taco salesman who ultimately comes up with the idea to enter Turbo in the Indy 500.”

Along the way, the underdog Theo comes out of his shell (so to speak) to achieve the impossible by refusing to let his limitations limit his dreams.

“He doesn’t know if (the super power is) going to go away tomorrow, he doesn’t know if it’s going to be there for the rest of his life but it’s ultimately a fragile thing,” Soren said.