"Fire And Rain"
"The Longest May"
"The 200 MPH Barrier"
"Fire And Rain", "The Longest May" and "The 200 MPH Barrier" are three vintage films about the tragic 1973 Indianapolis 500, and all three films are included in beautiful COLOR on a new 82-minute DVD from Rare Sportsfilms, Inc! "The Longest May" is narrated by Tom Carnegie has the best shots of the Art Pollard crash. "The 200 MPH Barrier" is the last Indy film narrated by Ralph Camargo and was also the last Indy 500 movie produced by Dynamic Films. "Fire And Rain", an Allend'or production made for STP, has the best shots of the spectacular first lap smash-up, as well as the Armando Teran tragedy. All three different films tell the story of the '73 Indy 500, with each showing completely different footage of the event and the story of the month of May leading up to the 57th running of the race!
The DVD begins with "The Longest May", produced by McGraw-Hill and narrated by track announcer Tom Carnegie. The 1973 race is one everyone remembers, but also one the drivers, participants, speedway staff and most fans probably would like to forget. Two drivers died as a result of injuries in crashes, a pit crewman was killed and almost a dozen spectators were hospitalized by burning fuel during the frightening first lap smashup! The rainy weather was almost as bad as the on-track tragedies and the race itself took three days to run, being called official at the end of 133 laps because of more rain! During the month of May at the speedway, the talk of Gasoline Alley was who (if anyone) could officially post a 200-MPH lap! These speeds, in part, were made possible by the wide rear wings that would be outlawed after this race. In all three films, you’ll see many great shots of the cars and drivers during practice at the track during the month of May: Sam Sessions, John Martin, Art Pollard, Jim McElreath, Mike Hiss, Billy Vukovich, Jr, David Hobbs, A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford. Three formidable three-car teams most fans felt the winning car would eventually come from were Dan Gurney’s Olsonite Eagle team of Bobby Unser (#8), Jerry Grant (#48) and Wally Dallenbach (#62), the Penske team of 1972 winner Mark Donohue (#66), veteran Gary Bettenhausen (#5), and rookie Bobby Allison (#12), and the ‘super team’ of Parnelli Jones-Vel Melitich racing, consisting of the two Viceroy cars of Mario Andretti and Al Unser, along with National Champion Joe Leonard. Drivers who did not even make the race are also shown, such as Lee Brayton in the #61 Eisenhower car, who spins out in practice. By far the most memorable practice crash however, occurs the morning of the first day of qualifying, when likable veteran Art Pollard hits the wall coming out of turn one. The impact shears off both right side wheels and the #64 Eagle-Offy flips over, landing upside down, breaking Pollard’s neck. After flipping, the car lands right side up in turn two, and Pollard dies shortly afterward. Qualifying gets underway as Peter Revson is first out and posts a speed of 192.6. He is followed by Gary Bettenhausen and then Swede Savage, who sets a new track record of 196.5 MPH. Al Unser is next, then Mario Andretti. But it’s Johnny Rutherford who grabs the pole with a new record speed of 198.413! The crowd realizes that the only other driver now with a chance to knock Rutherford off the pole is Bobby Unser, who keeps the crowd around till after 5 PM before his late attempt. But at 198.1, he must settle for the center of the front row, with Mark Donohue on the outside. Sunday of the following week is ‘bump’ day and a disappointed Sam Posey is knocked out of the field by George Snider in A.J. Foyt’s #84 Gilmore Racing entry.
Rain pushes back the start of the race almost four hours, but the field finally takes the green flag for the start. Salt Walther, a starter in the middle of the pack, suddenly lurches to the right and into the outside wall! His car flips in the air, spinning around and spewing flaming fuel through the catch fence into the crowd! The car crashes down in the middle of the straightaway, still spinning until it comes to rest at the end of the pit entrance, still burning. Walther suffers burns and internal injuries in the spectacular chain-reaction accident. Eleven other cars are involved and the race is stopped before even a lap is run. Before the mess can be cleaned up, rain postpones the race. Next day under gloomy skies, the cars are on the pace lap ready to take the green, when once again, rain washes out the entire day of racing, making this the first time the running of the race has ever been delayed more than one day. Finally on the afternoon of May 30th, the 32-car field finally takes the green flag for a successful start! Bobby Unser takes the lead on the first lap with Mark Donohue second and Mario third. On lap two, rookie Bobby Allison, in the Penske Sunoco #12 blows his engine and is out of the race. Only three laps later, Andretti comes into the pits with a burned piston. At this moment, Peter Revson spins out in turn four, hitting the inside wall. Bobby Unser is still leading, with Donohue second and Savage now third. Joe Leonard spins out, with Billy Vukovich just barely missing the spinning #1!…When leader Bobby Unser pits on lap 39, Gordon Johncock takes over the lead with Gary Bettenhausen second. Throughout the film, cameras cover pit stops of Bettenhausen, Donohue, Bobby Unser, and Johncock. Gordy leads for only three laps before he comes in and teammate Swede Savage inherits the lead. Meanwhile, A.J. Foyt retires his #14. A connecting rod bolt broke (a mechanical problem which sidelines at least six other cars), ending his day. Savage leads 12 laps until Al Unser passes him on lap 55. Only a couple of laps later, Savage brushes the outside wall in turn four, his car immediately turning left across the track and smashes head-on into the inside wall, literally exploding in flames and disintegrating into hundreds of pieces! The engine and transaxle assembly bound down the track, tearing out hunks of pavement along the way. One wheel flies skyward and another nearly hits Bobby Unser, driving just behind him. Swede is still strapped in the cockpit cage, which is pitched into several rollovers, bounces off the outside wall and comes to rest in the middle of the track, burning. Almost immediately fire crews are on the scene and quickly put out the fire around the stricken driver. Again the race is red-flagged before 125,000 shocked fans. Swede received two broken legs, a broken arm, badly burned hand and internal injuries. As rescue equipment rush to the scene, a fire truck traveling north on pit lane accidentally runs over and instantly kills Armando Teran, a pit crewman for eventual Rookie Of The Year Graham McRae and member of the STP Granatelli stable. After over an hour, the race is re-started with Al Unser leading, Johncock second and Vukovich third. When Al Unser exits the race with a burned piston after 75 laps, Johncock again takes the lead! Meanwhile others are shown having their problems, including Mike Hiss, Joe Leonard, Mark Donohue, McRae, Dick Simon and Bobby Unser. Storm clouds are gathering again, and since the race is now official, workers are shown hastily setting up victory lane. Rain brings the race to an end with Johncock the winner in the red STP #20!
Next shown on this DVD is "The 200 MPH Barrier" by Dynamic Films for Ashland Oil Company. Especially interesting are the sound bites throughout the film, and you'll actually hear the voices of Gary Bettenhausen, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, George Bignotti, Roger Penske, Johnnie Parsons Sr. and J.P. Jr., Mark Donohue and Steve Krisiloff as well as Tom Carnegie announcing a "Newwwwww Track Record" for pole-sitter Johnny Rutherford! A slow motion replay of the first lap accident is described by driver Dick Simon.
By far the most memorable of all films on the 1973 race is "Fire And Rain" by Allend'or for STP. It is a very graphic film showing the race-day accidents (especially the horrifying Armando Teran death) and is not for the faint of heart. The film was made for the Granatelli STP sponsored three-car Pat Patrick team of drivers Swede Savage, Gordon Johncock and rookie Graham McRae. The film shows the race from their perspective, including their comments on the Art Pollard wreck, the terrible Swede Savage crash (STP Car #40), the loss of their young crewman (Armando Teran) on pit road, and finally the victory by their driver (STP car #20 Gordon Johncock).
Now you can get your own DVD containing all of this rare vintage film for only $29.95 + $4.00 for shipping. (Illinois residents must add $2.00 sales tax.)