Written By: Speed Tv’s Robin Miller
Movies about auto racing have always fallen into three categories: laughable, passable or forgettable. Aside from Grand Prix, Winning and The Big Wheel, most were hokey, horribly-written and poorly-acted cartoons like Driven and Days of Thunder.
But a home-grown producer who grew up listening to the Indianapolis 500 on a radio is in the process of trying to make a film on the inagural race in 1911 and how it went from an idea to iconic status.
And he’s enlisted the two creators of Hoosiers and Rudy – Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh – to tell the story.
“Angelo has already written the screenplay and he and David will be the co-producers,” said Justin Escue, who owns the Indy-based My First Bike Productions. “So the next step is to find the proper financing.
“One of the biggest hurdles is that movies about racing are usually horrible and nobody wants to touch them. But this is a racing movie like Hoosiers was a basketball movie. And their track record certainly doesn’t hurt either.”
Roger Brummett, associate producer on the project, says the story revolves around three people.
“It’s about Carl Fisher, Ray Harroun and Ralph Mulford,” said Brummett, who took Escue and Pizzo to meet Tony George last year at the IndyCar race in Kansas City. “It’s Man vs. A dream, which was Carl’s idea to have this amazing track and this race.
“Then it’s Man Vs. Machine, with Harroun being involved with the design of the Marmon Wasp because he knew he needed a superior machine to beat Mulford. And the Man vs. Man, Mulford against Harroun.”
Escue, who grew up in Indianapolis listening to the race with his grandmother, logged his time as a production assistant before deciding to start his own production company.
“I knew I wanted to do my own projects and I’ve already done a couple of independent films,” said the 33-year-old graduate of Ball State and Indiana University. “I always wanted to do a race film and I think it is important to make it in Indianapolis.
“Mickey Maurer had helped me with my first two films and when I pitched the Indy 500 idea to him, he said he thought Angelo would be perfect. Angelo had just moved back to Indiana when I met him and he loved the idea of this movie.”
Global Hunter Securities of Houston is trying to secure the financing, estimated by Brummett from $35-40 million, and a tract of land in northern Indianapolis is being looked at to build a replica of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as it looked in 1911.
“I want to make this movie outside the studio system and then distribute it inside the system,” continued Escue. “We want to make the film, put together a good package for our financers and then sell it to a distributor like Disney or Warner Brothers.”
Obviously, the desired release date would be 2011 to coincide with the Speedway’s anniversary.
“We think it would be a great thing,” said Fred Nation, IMS vice president of communications. “We’ve had conversations with a number of people during the past couple years and let’s hope it happens in 2011.” -Robin Miller
So, If the movie does come to be, Who should play Ray Harroun? You can give your opinion by leaving a comment.