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.
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.
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.
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.
The cars used by the 9 competitors in the death race are as following: 2006 Ford Mustang GT, 2004 Dodge Ram 1500, 1966 Buick Riviera, 1980 Porsche 911, 1989 Jaguar XJS, 2006 Chrysler 300C, 1972 Buick Riviera "Boat Tail", 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, 1989 BMW 735i.
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.
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.