Spain’s Alonso chases his dreams at Indy 500

Los Angeles: Spain’s Fernando Alonso, who is on a quest to be the world’s best all-around driver and eventually complete the “Triple Crown,” will compete next weekend in the Indianapolis 500 at the legendary “Brickyard”.

The 35-year-old driver will try to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a track that has played a leading role in numerous racing films, including Paul Newman’s memorable “Winning”, reports Efe news agency.

The Brickyard’s 2.5-mile track has been the setting for such Hollywood flicks as silent film “Racing Hearts” (1922) and the animated “Turbo” (2013).

Among the Hollywood legends who have played racers were James Cagney, who starred in “The Crowd Roars” (1932); James Stewart, the leading man in “Speed” (1936); Mickey Rooney, who got top billing in “The Big Wheel” (1949); and Clark Gable, who was the star of “To Please a Lady” (1950).

Newman made the biggest impression in “Winning” (1969), directed by James Goldstone and co-starring the actor’s wife, Joanne Woodward.

Newman played Frank Capua, a promising automobile racer who dreams of winning the Indy 500.

The film’s storyline fits in perfectly with Alonso’s bid to add an Indy 500 victory to his 2005 and 2006 Formula One world championships and, eventually, complete the Triple Crown by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I love to race. Like really, really race. And that’s why on May 28, on the biggest weekend in motor sports, I won’t be with my Formula 1 team at the Monaco Grand Prix. I’ll be in Indianapolis. Racing at the Brickyard. Because I need to be,” Alonso told The Players’ Tribune.

Alonso, like Newman, was drawn to the big race by the Indy 500’s mystique.

“The Indy 500 is one of the greatest events in the sport. Drivers all over the world know this. I belong there. Because I’m a racer,” Alonso said.

Newman fell in love with auto racing while preparing for “Winning” under the tutelage of drivers Bob Sharp and Lake Underwood at the Watkins Glen Racing School in New York’s Finger Lakes region.

The actor took up racing after the movie was finished, competing in races for the rest of his life and winning four Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) titles.

Newman and business partner Carl Haas launched Newman/Haas Racing team, which won more than 100 races and eight championships in the IndyCar Series.

Newman, who raced until he was in his 80s, competed in the 1979 edition of Le Mans, where he drove his Porsche 935 to a second-place finish.

“Winning” used real-life film from the 1968 Indy 500, which was won by Bobby Unser, and some of the shooting for the movie took place on location at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Newman’s most dangerous driving scenes were done by his brother, Arthur, but the star still took home a paycheck for more than $1 million, a record at the time for a one-film deal in Hollywood.

“Winning,” however, was not a champion at the box office, but it later made more than $6 million in the US rental market alone and became a classic on television.