Talladega Nights and KC-X, revisited

I’m going to invoke “blogger privilege” and republish an item I first posted in August about the KC-X tanker competition. In hindsight, it looks like I goofed up the conclusion. But it’s all in good fun. Enjoy.

A tale of two tankers

Nothing says”class” like riding to Seattle on a Boeing Business Jet to cover aKC-767 rally (see photo below), with the movie “Talledega Nights: TheBallad of Ricky Bobby” on both widescreens.

Yet, the movie’s paean to jingoistic-hick car racing culture meantmore to me than mere slapstick; indeed, it was allegory, emulating thevery soul of the twisted and tiresome six-year race by Boeing andAirbus to sell a new tanker to the US Air Force.

Hear me out.

You have the All-American driver Ricky Bobby, an unbeatable NASCAR champion. He is our stand-in for the KC-767.

There is his fellow driver and childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr. Calfaithfully manuevers his car to ensure that his buddy Ricky alwayswins. Cal, of course, plays the role of the US Congress.

And there is Jean Girard, the effeminate French driver who finallyknocks the KC-76… er, Ricky, off his perch and sends him and his carinto a lengthy rehabilitation period. You guessed it: Jean is the KC-30.

At this point, Ricky loses his car, his house and his best friendruns off with his wife. (Keep up: Darleen Druyun is the car, JamesRoche is the house and Congress — in the form of John McCain — is thescoundrel friend.)

So, finally, Ricky fights his way back onto the racing circuit andmakes a final stand against Jean, the Camus-reading, macchiato-sippingFrenchie driver.

In a predictable twist, Cal (re-assuming the role of congressionalstand-in) comes back to Ricky’s side, and literally wipes out the restof the competitive field to give his buddy Ricky a clean shot againstJean on the final lap, cheering him all the way.

But then there’s another fateful twist. Neck-and-neck with a fewhundred yards before the finish line, there is a massive collision.Both cars do somersaults down the final stretch in a scene that evokes,to me, not a car crash but a contract protest upheld by the GovernmentAccountability Office.

The two drivers — sore, bruised, but uninjured — climb out fromtheir cars, eye each other and make a foot-race for the finish line.

I refuse to be a spoiler, but let’s just say that it doesn’t take aNASCAR bookie to correctly guess how this race is going to end.



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2 Responses to Talladega Nights and KC-X, revisited

  1. Nicolas 18 June, 2008 at 5:02 am #

    Nice analogy indeed. It has much to do with sport (fan clubs, home crowd and so on), and not only with technical merits. I too believe Boeing will win at the end… But I doubt Mr McNerney would ever kiss anybody from the other side.

  2. Stephen Naji 15 September, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    You really must do something about all these junk comments, it makes it virtually impossible for a genuine person to be heard.

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