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'Glory': Wearing Out Its Gritty Welcome

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 8, 2005; Page WE46

Dana Brown, who made the engaging surfing documentary "Step Into Liquid" gets back on dry land for this loose, freewheeling documentary. Make that real dry land: This doc is about the drivers of the Baja 1000, an annual nonstop off-road race (the world's longest) that has been going since 1967. It's a wonderfully democratic event. Anyone with any set of wheels can enter, whether it's dirt bike, dune buggy, monster truck or old-time VW Beetle. The only criteria: Finish the race. Competitors on this dusty desert terrain know there are many crucial factors to racing the Baja: a great road crew to troubleshoot for them, relay drivers who can take over and keep up the pace, personal resilience and a vehicle that won't die on them.

Brown (who shot the 2003 race with a widespread camera crew) brings home the passion of these racers, many of whom come back every year; they pass their enthusiasm along to their sons and, in some cases, wives, who become competitors, too. Andy McMillin, 16, is the grandson and son of previous racers, and there's a father-son duo between 62-year-old J.N. Roberts, who won the 1967 debut race, and son Jimmy.

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It's a fascinating film, but after a while, the digital photography wears out its gritty welcome, and the footage of endless rough roading becomes repetitive.

DUST TO GLORY (PG, 95 minutes) --Contains racing action and peril, and some obscenity. At the Loews Georgetown, Loews Shirlington and Landmark's Bethesda Row.

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