"The 500-Mile Adventure"
COLOR 34-minute DVD of the 1957 Indianapolis 500 is a story of innovation
and success, for in his 12th try at Indy, popular veteran Sam Hanks
finally wins the most famous auto race in the world! His winning
car was of a radical new design, planned and built by owner George
"The 500-Mile Adventure" begins with a look at driver Sam Hanks and the eventual winning car, the yellow #9 Belond Exhaust Special. Also shown is a history of car owner George Salih's efforts at the speedway, with an emphasis on the changes in racecar design from the years 1951 thru 1957, and how the winning cars influenced the design of the new cars each year during the 50's decade. In 1951, with George Salih as chief mechanic, Lee Wallard, in his black #99 Belanger Special, won the race. A year later, Bill Vukovich opened eyes with his new, lower car with the drive shaft running beside the driver rather than under him, which gave the car better cornering ability. This type of car became known as a "roadster". Most agree Vukovich would have won the '52 race were it not for steering failure. Instead, car #98 with Troy Ruttman driving, became the last upright dirt-track type car to pull into victory lane at Indy. The next two years, Vukovich and his roadster were unbeatable, winning in '53 and '54 in spite of the tremendous power of the bigger, heavier Novi's. Meanwhile, Sam Hanks, driving the old style upright dirt-track cars, finished third in both '52 and '53. By 1955, over half of the starting field was made up of roadsters, and a year later, Sam came home second by only 20 seconds in the red #4 Jones & Maley roadster.
From this introductory historical flashback forward, the film shows the cars, drivers and racing personalities of 1957. Before the race, you'll see shots of the twin black Bardahl cars, the #16 of Al Keller, and #19 of Jack Turner. Don Freeland's #3 Ansted-Rotary Special, Fred Agabashian's #14 Bowes car, and Pat O'Connor in his #12 Sumar Special are shown. Shots of Bob Christie's #95 and the mighty Novi of Paul Russo (blue #54) are included. The spin of Jim McWithey in his yellow #34 is shown at the beginning of the film. Other personalities shown in close-ups throughout this tape are Russo, Novi top wrench Jean Mercenac, roadster builder A.J. Watson, driver O'Connor and Clint Brawner.
The track itself took on a new look in '57, with the new control tower (torn down in '99) the focal point of the new Tower Terrace grandstand and pit area. Pole-sitter Pat O'Connor jumps into the lead at the start, with 4th starter Fred Agabashian taking second. At the end of one lap, O'Connor leads, with rookie Eddie Sachs in second. Moving up fast are Troy Ruttman and Paul Russo in the Novi. Sam Hanks, who started 13th, is fifth. Ruttman leads briefly, but is out after only 13 laps with piston failure, and Russo in the Novi has taken over the lead. Then comes a perfect demonstration of the superior handling of the Belond Special vs. the big Novi. Hanks is now in second and passes Russo in the corners, but with bursts of power, Russo catches and passes Hanks on the straightaways. After 100 miles, Hanks is able to stay in front, and his main challenger the rest of the way is Jim Rathmann in the #26 Chiropractic Special. Rathmann is having an amazing run, starting back in 32nd. place, and leading when Hanks makes his first two pit stops. On lap 76, Al Keller hits the wall in turn one and Johnny Thomson does a complete spin, just missing Keller's crash! Throughout the race, you'll see action in the pits when stops are made by Russo in the Novi, hard charging Jim Rathmann and winner Sam Hanks. By the 350-mile mark, Hanks has passed Jim Rathmann for the final time, and even when he makes his final pit stop, retains his lead over Jim. Hanks leads the rest of the way, however with only 18 laps to go rookie Don Edmunds spins out in turn two. Twenty minutes later, Sam Hanks gets the checkered flag and wins the Indianapolis 500! Jim Rathmann finishes 2nd, 21 seconds behind, with Jimmy Bryan third and Russo 4th. Hanks breaks Bill Vukovich's 1954 record by nearly 5 MPH!
Now you can get your own copy of
this beautiful COLOR film, now available for the first time on DVD,
for only $29.95 + $4.00 for shipping and handling. (Illinois residents
must add $2.00 sales tax)
"RARE SPORTSFILMS N",
1126 Tennyson Lane,
Naperville, IL 60540