Jason Statham trained so hard for the role that he went from 20% body fat to 6%. It took him 3 months to do so.
To get into fighting shape, Jason Statham trained for 3 months with an ex-Navy SEAL, one of the key trainers who built the Spartans of 300 (2006).
A total of 35 cars were used during the shoot. They were constantly repaired by a team of 85 mechanics.
David Carradine, who starred in the original Death Race 2000 (1975) plays the voice of Frankenstein in the opening scene.
Jason Statham's character, Frankenstein, drives a 2006 Ford Mustang GT, outfitted with a Roush supercharged 5.4L 3V Ford V8 Engine. "Frankenstein's Monster" is armed with 2 mounted mini-guns that shoot 3,000 rounds (of real bullets) per minute, flamethrowers and napalm.
Joan Allen was the production's first choice to play the female warden. Much to Paul W.S. Anderson's surprise, Allen was just as keen to do the film, wanting to shake up her image.
Originally written as a sequel to Death Race 2000 (1975) titled Death Race 3000, a race around the world with futuristic hovering, invisible and transformer cars, but had to be rewritten due to production costs.
One of the remits for Jason Statham and his numerous fight scenes in the film was that he should never resort to martial arts as that would be too reminiscent of his Transporter films.
Paul W.S. Anderson and Jason Statham conducted some of their research at Corcoran Prison, the toughest correctional institution in California.
At least 30 different masks were tried out (and rejected) for Frankenstein's facial attire.
34 cars - including Mustangs, Dodge Rams, Porsches, Jaguars, BMWs and Buicks - were used to portray the 11 main cars and a few extras in the film.
It took approximately six weeks per car for the mechanics and fabricators to put the racers together and get them track ready.
Coincidentally, Jason Statham has had films open in the same weeks in August for five consecutive years: Cellular (2004), Transporter 2 (2005), Crank (2006), War (2007), and this film.
Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner were originally attached as producers. Roger Corman, producer of the original Death Race 2000 (1975), had an option agreement with Cruise, with the idea that Cruise would play the lead. This never got off the ground as Cruise was unhappy with the first 3 versions of the script that had been submitted.
Whenever the timer is shown counting the minutes until the next stage of "Death Race", the clock always dissolves as the seconds read "32".
The cars used by the 9 competitors in the death race are as following: 2006 Ford Mustang GT, 2007 Dodge Ram 3500, 1966 Buick Riviera, 1980 Porsche 911, 1989 Jaguar XJS, 2006 Chrysler 300C, 1972 Buick Riviera "Boat Tail", 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, 1989 BMW 735i.
It took Paul W.S. Anderson over 13 years to get his adaptation on to the big screen.
According to writer and director Paul W.S. Anderson, it's a prequel to Death Race 2000 (1975) set 15 to 20 years before even though it's actually set sometime after 2012.
When Tom Cruise couldn't get the film into a place where he was happy with it, the project was placed into turnaround by Paramount. Universal immediately acquired the rights, and Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner came back on board, this time with Paul W.S. Anderson writing and directing.
Upon its release, the film was met with allegations of plagiarism as screenwriter Adam Stone claimed that director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt had stolen ideas for the film from a screenplay called "Joust" that Stone had pitched to them a while back.
When Coach talks to Jensen about having previously qualified for parole he states: "Got as far as the gate. They got a name for it, something-or-other syndrome." the mental illness he is referring to is called Post Incarceration Syndrome, and is comparable to PTSD. Sufferers report symptoms included (but not limited to) anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, paranoia, flashbacks and sleep disturbances. Many suffers struggle with adapting to the outside world as society has progressed and while incarcerated they have been unable to keep up with this progression and feel isolated.
This remake largely came about after Roger Corman saw and liked Paul W.S. Anderson's first film Shopping (1994). Corman secured the rights to show the film in the US and at that point asked Anderson what film he'd like to make next. Anderson cited this one, though it ultimately took 13 years for that to come to fruition.
Scott Kevan was chosen as director of photography as Paul W.S. Anderson was very enthusiastic about his aggressive lighting on Stomp the Yard (2007).
The price to see Death Race, as seen after the disclaimer: "Subscribe to Stage 1 now for $99. Subscribe to all Three Stages for the low price of $250."
MachineGun Joe is the only main character driver whose crimes are not listed in detail during the prison yard scene when the other drivers are discussed.
This film (with Jason Statham in the lead) is a remake of Death Race 2000 (1975) (which featured Sylvester Stallone in an early role). Both Stallone and Statham appear together in "The Expendables" films.
The growing craze for reality television was very useful in helping the film getting made.
The film was originally scheduled for release on September 26, 2008, but was moved to August 22, 2008.