“Four Years To Victory”, and “Wings To Victory” are vintage racing films by McGraw-Hill Productions on the 1972 Indianapolis 500. Recently restored by Rare Sportsfilms, Inc., they are now available on a new 39-minute DVD! Sponsored by DX Sunoco, “Four Years To Victory” details the four year 1969-1972 Mark Donohue-Roger Penske racing story, which culminates with a victory in the 1972 500-Mile race at Indianapolis. “Wings to Victory”, presented by Champion Spark Plugs, is more generic in nature and covers the month of May at the Speedway, including practice, qualifications and the 1972 race on Memorial Day, won by Donohue.
“Four Years To Victory” documents the 1966-1972 relationship of driver Mark Donohue and car owner Roger Penske with Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) as a formidable racing team. By 1972 they had won two Trans-Am Championships and two U.S. Road Racing titles together. In 1969, Donohue and Penske make their first attempt at Indianapolis and Donohue takes his rookie test. He went on to finish 7th in the race and won the Indy Rookie of the Year Award! The next year, Donohue, driving the Sunoco Camaro, won his second road racing title and also the 24-Hours of Daytona in a Lola. In 1970 Mark and Roger are back at Indy, and with a new Ford Lola Donohue starts 5th and finishes second! At this point, Roger Penske on a walk through Gasoline Alley, talks about the team’s philosophy about preparing to compete at Indy, starting in 1969. By 1971, Donohue is considered the favorite to win the pole, but is eventually just beaten out by Peter Revson. Starting second, Donohue is leading and has just ripped off the fastest lap in the race when his transmission fails and Mark is out, parking his car near the entrance to the pits. With the race more than ¾ finished, Mike Mosley crashes his car coming out of turn four, and his car smashes into the parked #66 of Donohue! The misfortune of the ruined McLaren/Offy is a major blow to the Penske team with only weeks remaining until the first Schaffer 500 at Pocono, however the crew and Donohue turn bad luck into victory at Pocono showing the resiliency of the Penske team.
In between the two films on this DVD is a short American Oil Company Indy 500 commercial for Amoco Gasoline, narrated by Harry Caray.
The film “Wings To Victory”, narrated by track announcer Tom Carnegie, emphases the role the new wings play in the tremendous advancement in speed for 1972 at Indy. Also shown is work on the cars in Gasoline Alley and on pit road, practice during May (Lee Brayton is the first to crash), and a trip around the course in the pace car with chief steward Harlan Fengler, who explains the newly installed caution light system. In Sunday’s pre-qualifying practice session, Steve Krisiloff hits the turn two wall, damaging his car. Minutes later Jim Malloy, in his #16 Thermo King Eagle, smashes into the northeast turn wall at nearly full speed. He died four days later and becomes the first death at the track in nearly four years. You’ll see the qualification attempts of A.J. Foyt, Billy Vukovich, Joe Leonard, Mario Andretti (new track record), Donohue teammate Gary Bettenhausen in McLaren #7 (new record), Donohue in #66, and then pole favorite Bobby Unser, who sets three new track records on consecutive laps and a new 4-lap qualifying speed of 195.940, 17 MPH faster than last year’s record! It’s the WINGS! Bobby Unser, Peter Revson and Mark Donohue have qualified on the front row for the race!
Throughout the DVD, you’ll see close ups of many racing personalities and drivers: Linda Vaughn, Parnelli Jones, Penske, Donohue, A.J. Foyt, Gary Bettenhausen, Bobby Unser, Joe Leonard, Bill Finley, Gordon Johncock and more. Also shown are many cars, especially those of Donohue, Bobby Unser, Foyt, Bettenhausen, John Mahler, Swede Savage and Mike Hiss.
Bobby Unser takes the lead going into the first turn and stretches it out at the beginning of the race with Donohue second and Revson third. But, after only 31 laps, pole-sitter Unser is out with a broken distributer rotor. By now Gary Bettenhausen has passed teammate Donohue and takes over the lead when Unser retires. Foyt is out after 60 laps with a broken turbocharger. Mike Mosley runs down leader Bettenhausen and passes, but only three laps later crashes in turn 4 in nearly the same spot he crashed the year before! Bettenhausen takes up the lead again as Andretti and Joe Leonard battle for 5th place. Johncock is out (exhaust valve), then Jim Hurtubise and Andretti both run out of gas on the track. Leader Bettenhausen loses his ignition and the lead goes to Jerry Grant, with Donohue not far behind in second place. When a yellow flag comes out for debris on the track, Donohue ducks quickly into the pits for service. Grant stays out one more lap, then comes in also, but now the green is out and he loses precious time while also hooking up the fuel hose of teammate Bobby Unser. In the end, this cost Grant second place, as he was dropped back to 12th in the final official race results. Al Unser finished second and Joe Leonard third. Mark Donohue’s dream of winning at Indianapolis had come true and car owner Penske had his first of many Indy 500 wins as car owner!
To get this vintage film now all on one 39-minute DVD, send only $29.95 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling
(Illinois residents must add $2.00 sales tax.)
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