"Third Time's The Charm"
Produced by Championship Racefilms for Valvoline, "Third Time's The Charm" is the latest addition to the Rare Sportsfilms vintage racing library, and tells the story of the month of May 1978 at Indy leading up to the spectacular classic on Memorial Day. Narrated by Bud Lindemann, this film gives some emphasis to Valvoline's involvement at the speedway and the Parnelli Jones Interscope Racing team, with Danny Ongais as driver.
The first third of the film is a look at the racing history of two-time 500 winner Al Unser, Sr. who in 1960 was a rookie at trying the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, made famous by his father and three older brothers Jerry, Louie and Bobby. (With the aid of a camera mounted in the car, you'll take a trip up the mountain with him!) When Al qualified as a rookie at Indy in 1965, he became the third Unser brother to race at the "500", in what was becoming a family tradition. This film shows brief highlights of the 1970 race, Al Sr's first win at the Speedway, in which Roger McCluskey, Ronnie Bucknam, Sam Sessions and Jerry Grant were involved in the race's biggest wreck. Returning to the track in 1971 as National Champion, Al wins again - the first driver with back-to-back victories since Bill Vukovich in 1953 & 1954. 1971 race highlights show the Krisiloff-Kenyon-Andretti-Johncock smash-up in turn three, as well as the David Hobbs-Rick Muther incident and Mike Mosley crash.
The rest of the film covers 1978. Opening qualifying weekend is totally rained out, but when the weather finally clears on Tuesday, Danny Ongais takes out the #25T Interscope backup car to check out an engine to be used in another car, and crashes in turn four. Danny comments on his relationship with Interscope Racing and Parnelli Jones and the excellent cars he is able to drive in his second year at the track.
On Saturday of the second weekend, 20 cars qualify. Shown making the race are Johnny Rutherford, rookie Tom Bagley, Tom Sneva, Al Unser, Janet Guthrie and Bobby Unser, who finishes his attempt in the rain. Next day, the scramble is on to fill the final 13 spots on the grid, and Larry Cannon spins #85 in the fourth turn in an unsuccessful attempt to make the race. Later, Roger Rager's contact with the wall in turn 3 dooms his effort. After all of Foyt's set-backs yesterday, everyone is eagerly awaiting A.J.'s attempt in the #14 Gilmore Citicorp entry. His 200.122 is fast time of the day, but the "tough Texan" must start the race 20th behind Bobby Unser.
Cars shown in close-ups before the race include the black Interscope Racing #25, A.J.'s #14 Citicorp Spl, Al Unser's #2 First National City Traveler's Checks Spl, Joe Saldana's #69 Wize Buys Carpet Spl, and the front row cars of pole-sitter Tom Sneva, Ongais and rookie Rick Mears. Three-time winner Louie Meyer is shown pre-race driving his 1928 Miller Special around the track, Jim Nabors finishes singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" and for the first time, the widow of the late Tony Hulman gives the command to start engines!
At the start, Ongais beats Sneva into the first turn and leads the first lap with Gordon Johncock 4th and 5th starter Al Unser still 5th. Sheldon Kinser loses oil pressure in the #24 Thermo King Spl, and is shown being towed in during a caution for Spike Gehlhausen's early crash in turn two. Last place starter Mario Andretti, fresh from winning last week's Belgium Gran Prix at Zolder, is already up to the middle of the field after only 10 laps, and after 20 laps and passing Foyt, he's in the top ten. In the early going, Sneva has led a total of one lap and Steve Krisiloff 5 laps, but most of the first 75 laps are led by the fast #25 Interscope Racing Special with Ongais at the wheel. In a move almost unnoticed, Al Unser takes third place from Johncock. Then, on lap 66, he passes Sneva to move into second spot! On lap 76, Al takes the lead for the first time and holds it past the half-way point. Then, Ongais and Unser both come into the pits together during a yellow. You'll hear Al talk about what a driver must do during a pit stop. Unser gets out first, and still leads. After 132 laps, Jim McElreath's engine is used up and he's through for the day. Al has a 6 second lead on Ongais after 139 laps. BUT, after 145 laps, Ongais comes into the pits smoking with a broken turbocharger rotor, out of the race! Sneva takes up second place behind Unser. Janet Guthrie has driven a steady race, finishing in the top ten. Sneva closes the gap somewhat in the closing stages of the race, as Al also slows when he has the race won. Al Unser becomes the fifth driver ever to win the 500 three times, and seems now hot on the heels of A.J. Foyt, who won his 4th only last year! Nice shots of the car being pushed into Victory Lane and Unser, with milk bottle, celebrating with crew and festival queen Sherri Kallbrier.
To get your own 24-minute DVD of this historic film, send only $29.95 plus $4.00 shipping.
(Illinois residents must add $2.25 sales tax)
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