THE NOVI AT INDIANAPOLIS
1964 and 1965
"Way Of A Champion" and "Diary Of Courage"
For years, the sound of the powerful Novi engine had raised hairs on the backs of the necks of true racing fans at Indianapolis. The Novi was probably the most popular engine ever entered, and the fact that, in spite of its' tremendous horsepower, it never carried a driver to victory has added to the mystique and brickyard legend of the Novi. In the early 1960's the Granatelli brothers further refined and developed the engine, and added four-wheel drive to put more Novi horsepower directly on the track for better cornering in the turns. This valiant effort to finally put a Novi in victory lane is documented in two films, "Way Of A Champion" by Confilm Productions and "Diary Of Courage" by Newspix Productions, both made for STP. This new 58-minute DVD tells the Novi story of 1964 and 1965 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The B & W film "Way Of A Champion" covers the STP Granatelli Novi effort in 1964. The three-car Novi stable is headed up by the new four-wheel drive #9 Novi Ferguson driven by young Bobby Unser. Jim McElreath qualifies Novi #28 and drag racer Art Malone puts #3 in the field for the race on Memorial Day. The film opens with the tragic second lap crash that killed popular veteran driver Eddie Sachs and rookie Dave McDonald. Next, a step back in time to qualifications, showing not only the three Granatelli entries, but other cars as well, such as the unique Smokey Yunick side-pod car driven by Duane Carter and Bobby Johns and the new Lotus-Ford driven by Jim Clark, which would eventually revolutionize racing at Indy. Pit crew practice and behind-the-scenes garage work is shown and the lights in Gasoline Alley burn all night as everything is made ready for raceday.
The second lap disaster is re-shown and the heartbreak of the "pajama-clad" STP crew is felt, as their best shot to win, the 4-wheel drive #9 Novi Ferguson of Bobby Unser is taken out in the fiery crash. After clean-up, the race resumes, but after 202 miles, the STP #28 Studebaker Novi of Jim McElreath is out with mechanical trouble and finishes 21st. Granatelli hopes now lie with car #3 Art Malone, who finishes the race with a creditable 11th place showing. A.J. Foyt, his happiness somewhat tempered by the tragedy, wins the race and is shown in victory lane in the last front engine offy to win at Indianapolis.
“Diary Of Courage” is not only a film on fan favorite Jim Hurtubise, but also the STP Granatelli Novi team and their month at the speedway in 1965. This COLOR film begins with a look inside Andy’s Santa Monica shop at his three cars: last year’s #9, an older backup Novi #59, and Granatelli’s new creation for 1965, the #6 four-wheel drive Ferguson, a monster that develops up to 830 HP and is probably the most powerful car ever entered at Indianapolis!
During the practice and qualification segment many other drivers are shown: pole-sitter A.J. Foyt, Joe Leonard, Rodger Ward, Jim Clark, Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney and young rookie Mario Andretti. Throughout the DVD you’ll also see the cars of drivers Al Miller, Lloyd Ruby, Foyt, Walt Hansgen, Masten Gregory, Arnie Knepper, George Snider, Len Sutton, and of course race winner Jim Clark. Cars that did not even make the race are also shown, such as those of drivers Norm Hall, Bob Hurt, Bob Harkey and Ebb Rose.
However, 1965 would be another trying year for the Novi crew. On a practice run in the new 4-wheel drive #6, Bobby Unser is confronted by a spinning Ebb Rose (in car #79) and smashes into him, demolishing both cars. With their top car out of the race, Andy decides to take last year’s #9 out of mothballs and the crew is shown working all night to get the car ready to qualify. When Unser arrives early the next morning, the car is ready and a practice run shows the car will be competitive. When Bobby qualifies, Granatelli decides to enter their last car, the yellow and blue #59. To drive it, Andy selects fan favorite Jim Hurtubise and at this point, the DVD introduces “Herk”, who almost died in 1964 in a flaming crash at Milwaukee. A replay shows that wreck and then Jim being transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, a hospital for serious burn victims. There, from his hospital bed, he talks about the accident and his plans to continue racing. Hurtubise, already a fan favorite, becomes even more popular. In ’65, Hurtubise becomes the most severely burned driver ever to return to racing at Indy and he provides fans the top thrill of the day by qualifying #59 late Saturday. Afterward Andy comments on the selection of Jim to drive the Novi, which was repainted and renumbered #56 for the race. Herk talks about the tremendous power of the Novi and briefly describes driving the car.
At the start, Jim Clark jumps into the lead. As Foyt briefly takes the lead from Clark on lap two, two crowd favorites are pushed to the garage – Jim Hurtubise and his red #56 Novi. During the race Unser’s running fifth, but tells of his sudden problem with the #9 Novi. Andy soon discovers the problem – a broken oil fitting has sidelined his last car after only 69 laps. Jim Clark wins the race, with Parnelli Jones second and rookie Mario Andretti, third.
Now you can get both of these rare Novi films, 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.)
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