1957 and 1958
"The 500 Miglia di Monza"
Three Rare films on one DVD!
"The Monza Challenge", "The Doubleheader 500" and "The 500 Miglia di Monza" are three vintage, mostly color films about the "Race of Two Worlds" that took place at the oval track at Monza, Italy in 1957 and 1958, and all three films are included on this new 1 hour, 8-minute DVD!
First shown is "The Monza Challenge" by Willard Pictures for Firestone. This film begins in B & W and was made to show the preliminary Firestone tire tests at Monza conducted by Pat O'Connor in April of 1957. Juan Fangio's track record of 163.5 MPH is shattered by O'Connor using Firestone tires built for the unique and demanding characteristics of the 2.63-mile high-banked Monza track. Pat runs a total of 77 laps at an average speed of 165 MPH, with his fastest lap being officially over 170 MPH! This was now the fastest race track in the world, and would soon hold the fastest race in the world in late June, 1957! At this point, the film switches to color and highlights of the historic 1957 Monza 500 are shown. You'll see practice, work in the garage area and Italian driver Mario Bonegia driving a Ferrari to check out the track. Jean Behra takes out his Maserati to try a few laps. Tony Bettenhausen sets a new one lap record, qualifying at 177+ MPH! The race is safely run with no cautions and no tire failures. Firestone had done its job!
"The Doubleheader 500" also covers the 1957 race, but is much longer and in beautiful I.B Technicolor! In this film, you'll see every driver and car entered in the race (qualifying order): Tony Bettenhausen, Andy Linden, Pat O'Connor, Bob Vieth, Jimmy Bryan, Eddie Sachs, Paul Russo, Ray Crawford, Troy Ruttman, Johnnie Parsons and the Scottish three-car Jaguar team of Jack Fairman, John Lawrence and Ninian Sanderson. The cars would be racing in a counter-clockwise direction and the start would be with a pace car and Indy style flying start. Ex-Indy driver Duane Carter (Director of Competition for USAC) is piloting the Alfa Romeo pace car in this film, and you'll be riding with him during the pace lap as the race begins! The entire 500-mile race would be run in three stages or heats, with 1 hour in between, allowing for car repairs. Because of the rough nature of the track, keeping the cars together would be a challenge for the mechanics. Split gas tanks, cracked frames, broken shocks and steering problems were some of the common hazards awaiting the American drivers. Not as fast as the American Indy roadsters, the Jag team is counting on outlasting the Indy cars to win the race. Italian Gigi Viloresi, former Indy 500 driver in 1946, is the official flagman of the race.
Jack Fairman in Jaguar #4 leads the first lap, but it's the only lap the Americans won't lead all day. This film documents the high attrition rate of the roadsters during the race. Twelve cars begin the race and by the third heat, only five Americans are still running, along with the three Jags.
At the end, the three Jaguars are still running, and three Americans are left, however Jimmy Bryan, Troy Ruttman and Johnnie Parsons finish 1-2-3! Thus, Jim Bryan becomes the first American to win a race on European soil since Jimmy Murphy won the French Gran Prix in 1922!
All the color, pageantry and documentation of the 1958 Monza 500 is shown in the final film, "The 500 Miglia di Monza" by Championship Racefilms. There is no "boycott" as in '57, so the starting field numbers 18 cars, including 11 American entries. Back for a second year are Eddie Sachs, Ray Crawford, Bob Vieth, Troy Ruttman, Scotsman Jack Fairman and defending Monza Champion Jimmy Bryan. New drivers this year are Jim Rathmann, Luigi Musso, Phil Hill, Sterling Moss, Jimmy Reece, Ivor Bueb, Maston Gregory, rookie A.J. Foyt, Harry Schell, Johnny Thomson, Rodger Ward, Don Freeland and Juan Fangio. All are shown in this film, as well as racing personalities and officials, including mechanics A.J. Watson and Howard Gilbert along with Edgar Elder, George Salih, J.C. Agajanian, Harvey Firestone, Charlie Brockman, Al Swanson, Bob Wilkie, John Zink and Al Dean. Top qualifier this year is Luigi Musso of Italy in #12, a V-12 Ferrari. Bob Vieth is alongside in the front row. Then in order come Juan Fangio in the Dean Van Lines Spl, Sachs, Freeland, Bryan, Rathmann, Thomson, Ward, Ruttman, Moss, Crawford, Reece, Hill, Maurice Trintignant, Gregory, Fairman, Schell and Ivor Bueb.
With his three-speed gearbox, Musso roars out into the lead to start the race, but a duel quickly develops between him and Eddie Sachs for ten thrilling laps. On the 11th lap, charging Jim Rathmann, who started 7th passes them both for the lead and is never headed, winning the first heat, with Bryan second and Bob Vieth third. Rathmann totally runs away with the second heat, leading all 63 laps. Replacing Maurice Trintignant in the #56 Sclavi-Amos Spl. is young A.J. Foyt, who finishes 6th in this second heat. Vieth and Bryan finish 2nd and 3rd. Fourteen cars start the final heat, and again, Rathmann takes command, but Jimmy Bryan excites the fans by fighting Rathmann for several laps, although leading only one of them. On the 41st lap, the only accident in the history of the two 500-mile Monza races occurs as the steering gears in Sterling Moss's #10 Eldorado Ice Cream Special are stripped. The car hit the outside guard rail on the north turn at full speed, breaking off the right front wheel. The car spun down the banking, breaking off the left rear wheel and coming to a stop on the infield grass. In this film the skid marks and car are shown as fans and workers try to wrestle the car out of a small ditch, while Moss walks past the cameraman, out of the race. Bryan finishes the third heat in second place and the #12 Ferrari driven by Musso, Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill is third. Jim Rathmann's average speed of 166. 72 MPH sets a new closed course world record as he completes a sweep of all three heats, giving the Americans another long remembered victory at Monza.
Now you can get your own DVD containing all three of these rare Monza films for only $29.95 + $4.00 for shipping.
(Illinois residents must add $2.25 sales tax)
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