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Milka Duno stars in "Speed Racer," releases illustrated book
Milka Duno
Milka Duno says driving an IndyCar Series car helped her prepare for the role of Kellie "Gearbox" Kalinkov in the big-screen production of "Speed Racer." But acting overly animated while driving was out of character.

"It was something different and a different role in my life," said Duno, who returns to the racetrack this weekend in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. "I was driving and was told I have to be very aggressive. We had to tape a lot because you have to over-act. It was difficult for me because if I did that in a car I would crash. You have to overdo it."

The Warner Bros. Pictures live/action big-screen adaptation of the 1960s anime series opens May 9. The red-carpet premiere is April 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, with Duno and the movie's stars Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Matthew Fox expected to attend.

The plot follows Speed Racer (Hirsch) and the Mach 5 race car as he battles the drivers of Royalton Industries in the cross-country rally known as The Crucible in an attempt to save the family business.

Duno spent 10 days in Berlin filming and describes her character as a "Russian race car driver, very eccentric and aggressive."

"It was another opportunity for me, and when I have opportunities I take full advantage of them," she said. "I'm not an actress, but they gave me a role in the movie and I'm very thankful. It was challenging following the directions of the directors. We had to tape a lot because you have to over-act. It was difficult for me because if I did that in a car I would crash. You have to overdo it for the cameras."

Duno, who made her IndyCar Series debut at Kansas Speedway last year with a 14th-place finish, also recently released the illustrated book "Go, Milka, Go" by Laredo Publishing. Raquel Benatar is the author.

The bilingual book, aimed at elementary and middle school students, features Duno sharing the importance of education.

"I tell about my life, school and how I started racing," said Duno, who holds four master's degrees in engineering. "Education is going to give you confidence throughout your life and prepare you for the doors to open in your life. My parents always told me, 'Go to school, work hard.' The example they gave to me, the value of education, I think is part of the success I've had in everything I've done." More at IndyCar.com

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