NASCAR themed musical gets Black Flag after negative reviews

The NASCAR themed production of the pop rock musical Helldrivers of Daytona, which opened last Monday, was cancelled Friday. The stage show at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago canceled the remainder of its run after theater critics panned the musical.

Previews began September 8 for an anticipated run through October 30.

A statement from the producers reads, “We all believed in Helldrivers of Daytona and more importantly believe in creating new works for the American Musical stage. We are disappointed by the critical response, but we knew that it was a risky endeavor. Still, many of the people who saw it were thoroughly entertained and delighted by the work of our fantastic cast and musicians. We have decided to close the production and we will evaluate how we might make changes for future productions of the musical. We want to thank our talented team of designers, our director and co-choreographer, our music director, our cast and crew, and of course our creative team who have all worked so diligently to get Helldrivers to the starting (and alas, finishing) line.”

In Helldrivers of Daytona, according to press notes, “tensions flare as drivers compete for the top slot in the 1965 Daytona Speedway Jackpot 500. Amidst a sea of tanned surfers, speedway groupies, motorheads and bikini babes, Lucky Stubbs (James Nedrud) must find a way to win his dream girl, Pepper Johnson (Samantha Pauly), from rival driver Count Porcini Portobello (Jeff nominee David Sajewich), a dangerously enticing European hotshot. The race for love and glory is on in this spoof of 1960s Elvis-style rock movies, a ride that’s fast, furious and funny.”

The show was meant to be a spoof of 1960s Elvis-style rock movies. Elvis did make a NASCAR themed movie in 1968 featuring shots of Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough and Tiny Lund.

The production has been in development since early 2015 when the production team developed the show in residence at the Department of Theatre and Dance as part of the Texas Musical Theatre Workshop. The show as had staging’s and workshops in Texas, Wyoming, Illinois and California. The Chicago debut was being billed as a “pre-Broadway tryout.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.