The Human Death Race


Joe DeSena

About The Human Death Race documentary

From all walks of life athletes converge to risk their lives in an extreme competition of will and power. It’s called the Death Race, and participants must push beyond their physical and mental limitations to survive the 60-plus hour event in the forbidding mountains of Pittsfield, Vermont. The Death Race sets participants on a grueling journey of endurance beyond anything they have experienced before. Those who are brave enough to take on the challenge of the Death Race walk away stronger, with a powerful new way of seeing the world. The Death Race is a life-changing experience that transcends the physical and evokes the spiritual. Now, for the first time, the thrilling intensity of the annual Death Race is revealed. We examine the psychological process of how fear can be converted into excitement, how the impossible can be transformed into ecstasy, and how a better quality of life can be achieved.

After being in the entertainment industry for over twenty years, and an awarding-winning documentary under my belt, I spent several years looking for an incredible and unique topic for my next project. A little over a year ago Spartan Race emerged during a casual conversation with a family member, which immediately peaked my interest. I love all things Spartan, but I had no idea what these races were about. 

After further investigation, I discovered the Spartan Races are progressive obstacle course races that implement challenges with blazing fires, mud, water, barbed wire, and gladiators standing between the competitors and the finish line. I discovered anyone including couch potatoes can get off their bum and participate in a Spartan Sprint. The race is an entertaining, thrilling, and an addictive avenue to make the transformation to a healthy lifestyle. From there, participates can progress to bigger and more extreme challenges with the Spartan Super, followed by the monsterous Spartan Beast. These races are not easy even for accomplished athletes.

As a filmmaker, the Spartan Races intrigue me due to the large number of people giving credit to these races for changing their lives, and I asked myself, why? I knew the answer would help put the purpose of the documentary in perspective.

I became extremely passionate about this project when I discovered the Death Race, which blew my mind! The Death Race goes far beyond the Spartan Races to the ultimate extreme and verges on being totally insane! I have always been fascinated by human behavior and the social sciences.

The Death Race is a 100% mental challenge and a psychology and sociology research lab. Participates are challenged to push beyond impossible limitations they have placed upon themselves, and in the process, they transform to a higher quality of life. From there, the purpose of the documentary became clear. I still had no idea how in-depth the psychological process of this transformation really was until I traveled to Pittsfield, Vermont for the winter Death Race.

A week before the winter Death Race, the co-founders of Death Race, Joe DeSena and Andy Weinberg invited me to the event. I had plans of filming the main Death Race in June with a full production crew, but I accepted their invitation and showed up with one cameraman to acquire some footage to make our Kickstarter reel. Joe, Andy, and the competitors are the most incredible and inspiring people! Not only is the Death Race intriguing, but the psychological process of how people’s lives transform from the experience makes this an important film in the world of sports and social sciences.

The co-founders of Death Race, Joe DeSena and Andy Weinberg, are supportive of this documentary, but they are not directly involved with The Human Death Race documentary, which is an objective observation of this sporting event. We did credit Peak Races in the trailer. They are giving us unlimited access for film production and granting us permission to use their Death Race trademark in the title. 100th Monkey Productions is very grateful for their support!


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