By the point this movie was made in 1976, the Tony Hulman traditional had change into one of the crucial prestigious and worthwhile dash automobile races on the earth. Began within the early 1970 and held yearly in Terre Haute, Indiana it drew the baddest, quickest, and coolest drivers on the earth in for a giant payday and massive bragging rights. The 1976 race had the likes of Pancho Carter, Johnny Parsons, and the fascinating Jan Opperman from Colorado driving “Speedy” Invoice Smith’s automobile.
Opperman is among the extra fascinating characters to burst on the racing scene within the late 1960s and into the 1970s. He received the Knoxville Nationals in 1971 and was an “outlaw” racer on the time which means he would run races irrespective of the sanctioning physique, fairly than simply sticking to at least one. He raced on the Indy 500 and drove USAC champ vehicles as nicely. He was a hippie when he first got here into he racing world after which turned a extremely non secular man, unafraid and dynamic in his views. One in every of his signature issues was the hat he’s usually seen to be carrying in photographs. This was his brother’s hat and his brother had been killed in a racing accident within the 1970s. It was a private memento that he all the time had with him.
1976 would show to be the apex of Opperman’s profession. Successful this race towards a load of fellows who would race the Indy 500 weeks later received him the equal of about $50,000 at this time and it actually thrust him into the nationwide highlight. Sadly in September of 1976 whereas racing on the Hoosier Hundred, Opperman had a large crash the place he incurred head accidents. He missed your complete 1977 season and got here again in 1978 however by no means received again to the place he was with respect to the successes of 1976 and earlier. You will notice Opperman at his best possible right here and that’s the best way we’ll decide to recollect him.
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