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A heart-racing documentary

Filmmaker follows U of M’s Polar Bear racing team through exciting season

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Damon Surzyshyn, owner of Nomad Production and director of Formula for Success, said after two failed seasons, the U of M Polar Bear Racing team came back with a vengeance, and he caught it all on camera.

STEPH CROSIER Enlarge Image

Damon Surzyshyn, owner of Nomad Production and director of Formula for Success, said after two failed seasons, the U of M Polar Bear Racing team came back with a vengeance, and he caught it all on camera. Photo Store

After almost a year of following the University of Manitoba’s Polar Bear Racing team across the continent in 2012, Formula for Success is ready for its release party.

Damon Surzyshyn, director of the documentary and owner of Nomad Production, said the film focuses on the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) team and the commitment they show.

"After getting to know the team, it really struck me that they were a family," Surzyshyn said.
"The amount of time they spend together and just the dynamics even, it really did have a family feel.

“After getting to know the team, it really struck me that they were a family" -- Damon Surzyshyn

"If they said they were 50 cousins or brothers I would have totally bought that — even though they don’t look alike."

Surzyshyn said the students, who receive no extra credit for the club but get a major resume builder, are extremely committed to the project.

"It’s very stressful and very demanding," Surzyshyn said. "They really learn how to be a team and how to rely on each other."

Members on the team are engineering students, which means they have a heavy course load.

"On top of that, they are building a car from scratch," Surzyshyn said. "So they are pulling all-nighters all the time. It was a little, well I’m 36 now, so some of the shoots, we’ll start at 10 in the morning and finish at 5 a.m. the next day. But that’s when they were working on the car."

Surzyshyn is no stranger to the racing world. A self-proclaimed "car nut" all his life, he races open-wheel with the Winnipeg Sports Car Club in Gimli, Man., and travelled to Birmingham, Ala. to compete in his first professional race at the Pirelli World Challenge on April 26.

Surzyshyn originally attended the U of M studying mechanical engineering, but after discovering he didn’t enjoy it, he dropped out and went into television and film. One thing he regretted about leaving is not giving the Formula SAE team a chance. He said going back to his old school, he found it difficult not to cheer at their competitions.

"It was really, really exciting," Surzyshyn said. "I really actually felt like an auxiliary member… I travelled a couple of times with the team. You get to know people when you spend a week with them on the road. I really felt like part of the team. I feel like I crossed that off my regrets list."

The Formula for Success documentary release party will be Wed., April 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the MTS Engineering Atrium at the U of M. Tickets can be bought at the door for $15 or $10 in advance from damon@nomad-production.ca

Net proceeds from the event will be donated to Women in Science and Engineering Kid-Netric Energy, an outreach program offered by the U of M to introduce girls to engineering.

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