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Herbie Is Resurrected And Rides Again
It was 1969 when America first discovered Herbie, AKA "The Love Bug,” the incredible little car with the body of a Beetle and the heart of a champion who came vividly to life in the runaway hit family movie of that era. The tale of the happy-go-lucky Volkswagen Beetle with a pepped-up personality and a need for speed, set against the groovy, love-is-in-the-air backdrop of '60s San Francisco, became instantly popular with audiences of all ages. The film would go on to spawn three more spin-off features and several television shows.

More than three decades later, the producers of HERBIE: FULLY LOADED realized that many of those who grew up with Herbie in the'60s, '70s and '80s now have kids of their own, and that they too might be ready for a new adventure involving the world's first thinking, feeling, match-making automobile just for them. The idea was to keep Herbie's retro-cool while bringing him roaring into the 21st century…as a NASCAR racer.

Says producer Robert Simonds: "There was little doubt in our minds that if Herbie was coming out of retirement in 2005, he'd want to head straight for the most exciting racing arena in America today: NASCAR. We were especially grateful to have the cooperation and participation of NASCAR as we began to develop the project. The result is that while this Herbie is as playful and fun as ever, he has to truly rev it up to take on the world of today's real race champs.”

The officials at NASCAR were equally enthusiastic about joining forces with the world's most famous magical car. "For NASCAR, it was a perfect fit,” says Sarah Nettinga, director of film, television and music entertainment for NASCAR. "People all over the world know Herbie, and when you say ‘Herbie the Love Bug meets NASCAR,' you know immediately what's going to happen: all kinds of fantastic things are about to ensue on the track. I also think NASCAR fans and Herbie share a lot of the same values of being familyfriendly, genuine, down-to-earth and fun-loving. Herbie's great in the NASCAR arena because he is a complete underdog—and anyone who has watched NASCAR knows that part of its excitement is that it's a place where the underdog always has a shot at moving up from the back of the pack to win.”

Nettinga continues: "One thing that was really interesting was the NASCAR drivers' reaction to doing a Herbie movie—they all immediately wanted to be involved! So you have Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett all racing against Herbie. They all felt an amazing affection for Herbie, and I think it was truly exciting for them to be a part of this movie.”

When the script for HERBIE: FULLY LOADED crossed paths with rising director Angela Robinson, she also felt a spark. She was herself a Herbie fan since childhood, but even more than that, Robinson loved the screenplay's empowering theme of a young woman pursuing her wildest dreams against the odds.

"I thought the writers had found an amazing new angle to make Herbie very fresh for today's audiences by creating this spirited young woman who wants to be a NASCAR driver, and who also becomes the only person who can help Herbie get back to the racetrack and fulfill his destiny,” she says. "The story had a great combination of big-action racing scenes that I loved, along with the humor that comes with Herbie, and then this uplifting story of a woman trying to prove herself in the vibrant, dynamic but usually male-dominated world of NASCAR. That great mix attracted me to the project.”

The producers, in turn, were pleased by Robinson's dynamically contemporary approach. "Angela has this really great pop sensibility and a very clever sense of humor—which is what the original Herbie had in spades—so we felt she was the right person to bring the story spe

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