“500 Miles To Go”, “Pat Flaherty” and “They Drive Furiously” are three vintage films about the 1956 Indianapolis 500, and all three titles are included in beautiful color on this new 64-minute DVD from Rare Sportsfilms, Inc! The film “500 Miles To Go” by Dynamic Films for Perfect Circle is the longest, best and most popular of the three. Next is presented a compilation of both professional and home movies all centered around winner Pat Flaherty. Finally, “They Drive Furiously” by Craig Stewart Productions is yet another film showing the race from an entirely different perspective.
1956 is an interesting year at the Brickyard. The newly-resurfaced track helps make it possible for almost the entire field to break the 140 MPH barrier, and pole-sitter Pat Flaherty’s 145.596 breaks the old 1955 record by over three MPH! It is the first year of the new speedway office, entrance and museum, and the final year for the old pagoda. And, it’s a year of RAIN (you’ll see amazing scenes of flooding at the track)! However, the focus of this DVD is on the cars and drivers for 1956. National Champion Bob Sweikert’s yellow #1 is one of many cars you’ll see close-up before the race, during practice and in qualifications. Others are Johnny Boyd’s #15 Bowes car, the red #9 Bardahl Ferrari Experimental (Nino Farina, driver), the streamlined Sumar Special, Troy Ruttman’s #53 Zink special, and the two Novi cars of Jim Davies and Paul Russo.
There’s plenty of qualifying action, as Pat Flaherty sets a new record to grab the pole in his white #8 John Zink special. A.J. Watson, chief mechanic and the builder of Flaherty’s car, talks about Perfect Circle piston rings (the original sponsor of this film). The white #34 Trio Brass Foundry Special is crashed in qualifying by Johnny Tolan, and the baby blue #54 Travelon Trailer Special is spun out by rookie Jack Turner. Other drivers and cars seen during practice and qualifications are Jim Rathmann, Pat O’Connor, Sweikert, Johnnie Parsons, Andy Linden, Tony Bettenhausen, Sam Hanks and final qualifier Duke Dinsmore. Al Herman’s black Bardahl #12, Jimmy Bryan’s white #2 Dean Van Lines car and Gene Hartley’s blue-green #82 Central Excavating Special are shown. Driver close-ups and personalities shown include speedway President Tony Hulman, Paul Russo, Sweikert, Ray Crawford, Johnny Thomson, Hanks, Jimmy Bryan, Ruttman and Freddie Agabashian.
On raceday, you’ll see good shots of the ’56 DeSoto pace car, particularly during the parade lap. Dick Rathmann takes the lead on the first lap from Flaherty but is soon passed by Pat O’Connor. The cameras catch Russo in the Novi passing both O’Connor and Flaherty to take the lead in the main straightaway on the 11th lap. After 125 miles, the Novi is still in front, but going into turn one, a rear tire blows, and after riding the huge car into the wall, Russo becomes the first man ever to walk away from a wrecked Novi! It’s the most spectacular crash of the race! Troy Ruttman’s skid and tangle with Keith Andrews follows before O’Connor and Flaherty again take up the battle as the green flags waves. Other spins and crashes of the race are shown, including Ray Crawford’s spinout in front of the pits, Jimmy Bryan’s spin in the south chute and Jimmy Daywalt’s crash in turn two. With the yellow on for Crawford’s wreck, Flaherty is shown pitting and getting three tires and fuel in “only” 42 seconds! O’Connor takes over the lead, but gives it up to Johnnie Parsons when he himself comes in. Pit stops of Flaherty (twice), O’Connor and Sam Hanks are all shown, including Bob Sweikert’s stop after almost a full circuit around the track on a bare rim after a blown RR tire! Sam Hank’s gallant effort to catch Flaherty in the final laps is covered, as well as mechanic-car builder A.J. Watson in Flaherty’s pit sweating it out. Pat Flaherty, the last driver to win Indy in “tee shirt and tennis shoes” is shown in victory lane with wife Marilyn and screen star Virginia Mayo.
The second film is devoted almost entirely to race winner Pat Flaherty, with great scenes throughout of Pat before (qualifying), during (pit stops) and after the race! Included are shots of starlet Virginia Mayo and husband Michael O’Shea at the Driver’s Meeting, Flaherty accepting the Pole Award from Tony Hulman, race clips of Paul Russo after his Novi crash, and finally spectacular shots of Flaherty in Victory Lane with LIVE SOUND! Next day, Flaherty and his winning crew are shown on the main straightaway in preparation for the taking of the traditional post race group picture!
“They Drive Furiously” was W. Craig Stewart’s second film on the Indy 500 and Craig narrates it himself. The film covers the race almost as thoroughly as the Perfect Circle film, but the action is all shown from different angles and from a different perspective. For example opera star Brian Sullivan shown singing “Back Home Again”, Jimmy Daywalt and Johnny Boyd pit stops, the Russo accident seen from a southeast view and Tony Bettenhausen’s crash in the south chute are all shown only on this film. Also unique are scenes of flooding and the old pagoda.
To add this outstanding nostalgic racing DVD to your collection, send $29.95 + $4.00 for shipping and handling (Illinois residents must add $2.00 sales tax) to:
“RARE SPORTSFILMS FL”
1126 Tennyson Lane
Naperville, IL 60540