In a first-of-its-kind brand collaboration, blue chip partners IndyCar and Firestone have partnered for a biopic on African American race car great Charles “Charlie” Wiggins. The true story of the racer is being developed into a feature film by Ed Welburn and Madisun Leigh via their Welburn Media Productions banner. The film comes ahead of the historic drivers induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame on Thursday July 22, 2021 in Detroit.
IndyCar has pledged support for physical production of the Charlie Wiggins story, marketing and promotional opportunities during production, and additional marketing resources, including media, at time of release. Firestone will be a production partner for the film.
Set in the roaring 20’s and depression era 30’s against the colorful backdrop of bootleggers, and the birth of jazz, Eraced, chronicles the triumphs and struggles of the legendary Charlie “Speed King” Wiggins, widely regarded as the greatest race car driver of his generation.
Wiggins was no stranger to the inequities of segregation and Jim Crow Indiana. More than once Wiggins defended himself, his family, and his livelihood from the terrors of the Ku Klux Klan and the permeation of oppressive systemic racism in America. After being barred repeatedly from whites-only racing events, he became a leading light of the parallel Colored Speedway Association and won the prestigious annual Gold and Glory Sweepstakes four times between 1926 and 1935. Producers are planning a spring 2022 production start date.
“Watching the documentary about Charlie, I was excited and at the same time deeply saddened that such an amazing piece of African American history, of American history, of car history, could be completely unknown to me, my enthusiast friends, and most auto racing experts,” said Welburn. “I decided that I had to bring Charlie’s story to life.” “It’s yet another missing piece of the puzzle that is the contribution of African American ingenuity and genius to our country’s rich history,” said Leigh. “Charlie was a humble yet daring man who, despite the stifling impediment of Jim Crow laws and unimaginable personal tragedy, rose again and again to meet those challenges and obstacles.”
B. Garida (Reagan & Gorbachev, W.A.S.P.), Courtney Gay Wilson (Bronze, Hip Hop Made Me), and Madisun Leigh (Raphead Response, Played) adapted the feature screenplay from the Emmy Award-winning documentary and book, For Gold and Glory: Charlie Wiggins and the African American Racing Car Circuit, both written and produced by Todd Gould.
Producing the film are Grant Cramer (Lone Survivor, November Man), Madisun Leigh (Driven, iTrans) and Ed Welburn. WWT Founder/Chairman David Steward and Polarity CEO David Steward II (Academy Award winning Hair Love), have partnered as financiers and will serve as executive producers alongside Marsha Malone and Randy Greenberg (The Meg, Cowboys & Aliens), who sourced, negotiated and will manage the brand partnerships.
Ed Welburn was General Motors Vice President of Global Design, and until his retirement in 2016, was the highest-ranking African American in the automobile industry. Having grown up in and around his father’s auto shop and spending his entire life devoted to automobile design and auto racing, Welburn was both mesmerized by Charlie’s story and shocked that he had never heard of him or the African American racing car circuit known as the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes. Welburn spearheaded development of the feature film after watching Gould’s documentary.