Based on Michael Waltrip’s book In the Blink of an Eye, the film shows the rise of Waltrip as a racer, his friendship with Dale Earnhardt, and the 2001 Indy 500 that led to Earnhardt’s death and Waltrip’s first major win.
The best point I can make about Blink of an Eye is this: it made me care about a sport, NASCAR, that I previously had never watched and was dismissive of in conversation. The story of how Michael Waltrip overcame a losing streak of 462 losses would be compelling enough, but it is also mixed in with the development of his friendship with Dale Earnhardt and Earnhardt’s death at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
Director Paul Taublieb has artfully told a story by blending archival footage of the two race car drivers from the past with first person interviews in the present. Among those interviewed on screen are the Waltrip brothers, Michael and Darrell, racing legend Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr., joining various personal friends of Waltrip and Earnhardt, as well as NASCAR officials and experts. Each of them adds personal reflection to the events depicted on screen, in a way that allows for a more personal understanding of the competition on the track and the friendships off of it.
While the younger Waltrip endured an extended losing streak, Michael’s remark toward the end of the film that “some finish to a race doesn’t heal you, it has to come from inside,” shows the more spiritual side of the documentary. While there are explanations given about who lives and who dies in some dreadful car crashes, Waltrip’s narration of the events that led to the simultaneous greatest and worst moment of his life allows the audience to see how God is an ever-present influencer in his life.
Sports documentaries are not all created equal, and this one is certainly above average. Whether showing close-up the grind of racing and the excitement, or sharing the inner thoughts of those involved in some of NASCAR’s all-time races, Blink of an Eye draws the audience in to feel what the race car drivers were experiencing. What the audience does in the next moment, after the screening, will determine whether or not the lesson has been learned: we only have right now guaranteed, so what we do with this moment will determine who we are and what we we are made of, not what plans we make for the future.
The Dove Take:
Because of some language and the tension of two brutal wrecks, the film earns the Dove-Approved 12+ award for sharing an inspirational story about courage, resilience, friendship, and lessons learned on and off the track.