+ + +

What do you get when you add,

You get “Rocky”

for modern day audiences!

But a Track Star not a boxer

RACING THE SUN: THE PETE ROMERO STORY

GENRE: True life Sports Bio Drama

LOGLINE: With extraordinary determination and a relentless drive to escape toiling in the fields as a nameless farm worker, a Mexican immigrant overcomes discrimination, language barriers, and the wrath of his own father, transforming himself into a world class athlete. Ultimately earning an education and a college degree.

This film chronicles Pete Romero’s upbringing, his personal and professional

struggles, and his rise from poverty to the top of the elite athletic world.

SYNOPSIS: This is the inspirational true story based on the life of Mexican American Track star, Pete Romero. Born to Mexican immigrants, and as a Spanish speaking immigrant himself, Pete overcame seemingly insurmountable language and discrimination barriers, deportation, and poverty to become the National High School Two Mile record holder and a celebrated AAU Hall of Fame legend.

Sunrise in a serene vineyard…

We hear the heartbeat of the intruder.

A frog senses something and hops out of the way.

An oncoming behemoth somewhere in the vineyard approaches….

A lizard hops out of the way.

We hear the heavy breathing of the intruder.

A snail senses something is coming…

A runner’s shoe narrowly misses the snail.

The person running in the vineyard

is a young man, Pete Romero.

Slowly we zoom out to reveal…

RACING THE SUN

The Pete Romero Story

In the vastness of the vineyard, we see the tiny figure of the lone, majestic runner.

We see the blur of a baton handoff at a track meet.

The crowd roars as the announcer fervently exclaims, “University of Texas El Paso’s Pete Romero is in the lead against the Fastest Man on Earth, Jim Ryun! Can he hold the lead!”

Pete strains with every fiber of

his body to stay ahead of Jim Ryun!

El Paso, Texas, Present day

Bel Aire High School Awards Banquet

Pete’s legendary past athletic accomplishments are briefly described. Although we don’t see him yet, the audience is visibly excited.

The MC states Pete almost didn’t become a coach at Bel Aire…

QUESTION 31 & REACHING FOR A DREAM

1972, El Paso, Texas

Bel Aire High School, Athletic Department

Pete anxiously awaits his interview for the Coaching position he’s been dreaming of since high school.

Pete’s legendary athletic record and a recommendation from the University of Texas El Paso, Track Coach makes him a shoe-in for the job. Pete’s interview is flowing along, until it’s suddenly interrupted…

Coach Jordan’s secretary, Miss Adams, notifies him that Pete forgot to answer Question 31 on the application. Citizenship.

Pete tells Coach that he didn’t forget to answer the question…because he’s not a U.S. citizen. Coach tells Pete they can’t accept him for the position without citizenship!

Pete starts to tell Coach his life story.

THE EARLY YEARS

1947, Philadelphia

When Pete was born, his father Chano, was a bracero working in Philadelphia as a railroad worker.

A bracero is a Mexican citizen registered by the U.S. government to legally work in the U.S.

Nobody cared about the birth of Chano’s son…until he bought drinks for everyone!

Meanwhile, Chano’s wife, Anna, was alone in Juarez with baby Pedro and his older sisters.

Pete was raised in the slums of El Paso, Texas.

Living right next to the El Paso-Juarez border bridge, Pete and his mother used it frequently to shop in Juarez.

Seeing desperate Mexican children begging for food and money under the bridge, left a lasting impression on the young Pete.

Pete: “How blessed we are to live in America and not in the streets or under a bridge, poor and begging.”

Stars of Cotton

Maricopa, Arizona 1955

“My father was young and strong. He could

pick about four and a half sacks a day.

“At 15 cents a pound and 100 lbs per sack, that totalled a whopping $6.75 for a days work!”

He had his own small kid-sized sack.

During the summers, the whole family picked cotton for extra income.

At 8 years old, Pete was picking cotton with his family.

It was grueling work in the broiling Arizona heat.”

LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE

After Pete’s family moved to Reedley, California, Pete’s 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Mendenhall broke the news that she will have him repeat the third grade in order to improve his English.

And from that day forward, he would be called Pete not Pedro to stop the teasing from the other kids.

Distraught and in tears, Pete pleaded with her, “Please you can’t! I was named after my grandfather! And what will I tell my parents about repeating the 3rd grade? Little did Pete know, that being held back in the 3rd Grade would improve his English and give him the competitive advantage in his future athletic career.

Pete was constantly bullied and taunted about his poor English and his name Pedro.

Lincoln Elementary

Reedley, California, 1957

And the teasing stopped!

Aoy Elementary

El Paso, 1953

In 1955, against his father Chano’s skepticism, Pete’s mother Anna moved the family to Reedley in California’s Central Valley for better paying work in the fruit packing houses and orchards.

THE GOLDEN STATE and THE RECHRISTENING

THE WRATH OF GRAPES

WINDOW TO THE STARS

At night, from the upper bunk in the workers’ shack, Pete gazes at the sky and stars above, and admires the beauty and freedom it represents.

From childhood to his teen years, Pete and his family wake up before dawn to travel and pick grapes in the vineyards.

At dawn, it’s still chilly and cold.

By midday, it’s well over 100 degrees!

It’s grueling and dirty work.

One time, Pete and his mother are attacked

by a swarm of angry wasps! Encrusted in dirt mixed

with sweat, Pete questions why they don’t work inside.

Pete’s mother Anna reminds him that’s why he’s going to school,

to be somebody special, so he’ll never have to work in the fields.

THE BIRTH OF A CHAMPION

Upon entering Reedley High School

as a Freshman, Pete soon learns

the social pecking order.

Wes, the Sophomore football jock

“accidentally” bumps Pete in the

hallway. With a smirk and a nod,

Wes immediately warms up to Emily, the cute new girl from the incoming Freshman class.

In his Freshman year, Pete breaks his ankle during wrestling practice.

When he gets the cast off months later, his leg muscles are weak. To strengthen his leg, Pete jogs around school during lunch and after school.

Arriving late, Pete misses the first tryout.

During one of these lunchtime workouts

Coach Ostrand, the track coach, sees

Pete running and thinks he might have

some potential. He calls Pete over and

asks him to come to the first day of

track team practice. Pete initially

declines but Coach Ostrand persists.

He’s about to leave when Coach insists that he

run in the next tryout.

Pete reluctantly agrees.

Pete runs the mile and defeats everyone. Pete’s surprised but Coach is ecstatic. Pete just beat

every runner on the Varsity team…as a Freshman with

no training!

Pete earns a Varsity letter in Track as a Freshman.

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

During his teen years,

Pete and his father would prune peach trees in the winter for local farmers.

It’s hard work in the freezing cold.

On one of these jobs, while dragging branches to a pile, Pete sees a light off in the distance. Walking to the light, he comes upon the farmer’s house.

When Pete returns

to the other workers having lunch,

he demands they all strike for better working conditions!

They tell Pete’s father to shut him up. They don’t want to be fired!

Looking in the window, he sees a heartwarming sight. The farmer’s family is gathered around their beautiful Christmas tree with presents. He could feel their love and warmth for each other.

He wondered why he couldn’t have this kind of life. Then he realized the guys working in the fields didn’t even have a bathroom!

CHALLENGE NOT THY FATHER

At 15, Pete’s father Chano demands he quit high school to work in the fields full-time to make money for the family.

Pete refuses explaining that his athletic talent is his ticket to a better life.

Later, Coach Ostrand notices Pete missed Cross Country practice several days in a row, he wonders what’s up. Then Pete’s friend Jesse reluctantly tells Coach that Pete was kicked out of his home and is working after school at a gas station to make money.

Coach Ostrand searches the city looking for Pete and finally finds him.

Coach tells Pete he can’t give up running, his whole future depends on it. Then Coach says he’ll become his legal guardian. So Pete can concentrate on his studies and running.

Enraged, Pete’s father literally throws him out of the house!

A NEW LIFE

Pete explains to his mother Anna that Coach Ostrand needs her permission to become his legal guardian. She agrees knowing this is Pete’s only chance to find his dream and go to college.

Coach Ostrand immediately has his attorney prepare the legal documents.

Living with Coach Ostrand’s family, Pete enters a new world! He experiences the American Dream…

a beautiful home with a swimming pool and for the first time in his life, his very own bedroom.

But living with Coach and his family comes with some rules and commitments…

Inspiration

Motivation

Pete Romero, Period 5

Social Studies

Preparation

Dedication

Coach Ostrand sets down the rules: Keep the grades up, follow his training schedule, and always look at the big goal…..a university scholarship and a college degree! How can he do that? Win races!

Pete embarks on a rigorous training regimen of 20 miles a day, 10 miles before breakfast and 10 miles after school, six days a week! That’s 120 miles a week!

HOW TO BECOME A CHAMPION

Pete runs

10 miles before breakfast

and 10 miles after school,

6 days a week.

That’s an incredible 120 miles a week!

A powerful upper body is important too! Pete lifts weights to

strengthen his arms and chest. He can bench press 200 lbs!

Running isn’t just about stamina and leg strength.

He gets the training formulas of diet, vitamins, and running workouts for their national level champion college runners.

In order to create a world-class training program for Pete!

Using Sports Illustrated magazine, Coach spends hours identifying and calling elite

college track coaches across

America. Why?

YOU HAVE TO LOSE SOME, AND LOSE SOME MORE,

TO WIN SOME

From his Sophomore year, Coach Ostrand

enters Pete into elite College track meets.

And Pete never wins, in fact he comes in

many places behind first place.

Pete embarks on grueling workouts starting at dawn to beat the scorching summer heat of the California Central Valley! And in the winters, he endures freezing temperatures.

Discouraged, Pete exclaims,

“Coach, what’s the point of me being here?!”

I’m never winning any races?!”

Coach: “Pete you’ve got to

understand, you’re competing

against college guys, they’re way ahead of you.

But look, you’re doing great for a high schooler!

By the time you’re a Senior, you’ll have the

physical and mental stamina to win races.”

MR. PERSONALITY

As Pete wins more races, he becomes a celebrity on campus and is continually greeted with a smile and “hello” from strangers and invited to parties by students who wouldn’t give him the time of day before he became a running champ.

Of course, he turns down these offers to party.

So while the other kids are having fun, Pete is focused like a laser beam on his training schedule.

He even turns down Emily, one of the most popular girls in school. With blonde hair, brains, and a truly nice disposition, she’s got it all.

Pete’s friends can’t believe he turned down Emily!

TO SOCK HOP OR NOT TO SOCK HOP

As Pete runs out of the gym for his daily afternoon workout, he’s literally pulled aside by Emily. She persuades him to join her at the sock hop in the gym.

As he ditches his running shoes and joins the crowd on the gym floor, Pete feels out of place in his running shorts and t-shirt.

When the song changes to a slow ballad, Pete and Emily embrace as they dance.

Suddenly, Pete is jolted by a slam to his back! It’s Wes! Wes challenges Pete to a fight after school in the locker room. Pete accepts.

“Don’t mess with my girl !”

BREAKING THROUGH BRICK WALLS…

and JAWS

Wes enters the locker room. No sign of anybody.

“Hey wetback?! Where the hell are you?!”

Suddenly, a scream is heard. Wes looks up and sees a silhouette descending upon him.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

The next day, Pete is wistfully playing

the clarinet in band class when

Coach Ostrand takes him out of class.

Upon entering the Principal’s office,

Pete’s informed he’s being called in

because of the fight with Wes.

Pete apologizes profusely

about fighting, but is

stopped by the Principal.

Wes is in the hospital with

a broken jaw. Pete is in

shock. Admitting it was unintentional, Pete explains he was pushed too far by Wes and snapped after being ridiculed his whole life for being Mexican and poor. Sympathetic, Coach and the Principal persuade Wes’ parents not to file charges. Miraculously, Pete is cleared by a judge. After this incident, Pete vows to always be in control of his emotions.

He continues searching for Pete…

MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE, POSSIBLE

In a bar somewhere in Reedley, Chano, Pete’s father sees Pete being interviewed on TV. He asks the bartender to turn up the sound.

He chokes up and and proclaims, “Hey that’s my son! That’s my son!”. But everyone ignores him.

Highlighting Pete’s amazing Triple, a Sports Illustrated magazine photographer captures Pete running

in the vineyards of Central California in an iconic full-page color photo.

In his Senior year at Reedley High, Pete accomplishes a Triple! That’s winning 3 track events at the same meet on the same day!

Pete won the 2 mile, 1 mile, and ½ mile, an amazing feat in itself. But he ran these events within a time span of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

A national record that still stands to this day.

Pete’s Triple is so remarkable that he’s interviewed by local TV stations. And Sports Illustrated magazine sends a photographer to Reedley to capture Pete in action.

COMING HOME

In Fresno, California, Pete is surprised to see his mother and father, Anna and Chano, in the stands as he crosses the finish line winning another race. This is the first time his parents have ever seen him in a race.

As Pete and Chano shake hands, it’s an emotional and bittersweet moment for Pete remembering how his father kicked him out of his home at 15 years old.

Pete sees the regret in his father’s eyes as he walks away.

In his Senior Year, Pete wins every

Cross Country race in the 2 mile.

Setting a California state record and

winning the 2 mile in a national competition.

RATCLIFFE STADIUM

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA

EAST VERSUS WEST

In his Senior year in High School,

Pete attends the Gerry Lindgren, High School Two Mile Championship in San Francisco.

All the best High School Two Milers in America attend. At the meet, Pete races his rival from New Jersey, Marty Liquori the National Two Mile Champ.

San Francisco, California 1967

With Pete being the California State Two Mile champ, this is truly an East versus West race!

In a suspenseful race, Pete allows Liquori to take a big lead. As they reach the final lap, Pete closes in. The crowd is roaring with anticipation! Approaching the finish line, Pete catches up to Liquori for a photo finish. They tie for first place!

He learns a

lesson from his

cockiness and

vows to beat

Liquori the next

time they race.

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

“It’s hard to believe that just a few short years before, I was toiling away in the fields. Traveling with the UTEP Track and Cross Country teams, I got to see and experience a lot of America. ”

Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK CITY

BOSTON

CHICAGO

PHILADELPHIA

MIAMI

After being courted by every major university in the country, Pete decides to attend the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).

“How blessed I am to be in this country.”

RACING FOR HIS LIFE

against Jim Ryun the “Fastest Man on Earth”

As Pete queues up on the track preparing to receive the baton for his anchor leg of the 4 man, 4 mile relay, he recalls the conversation with Coach Vandenburg the night before.

Drake Stadium, Des Moines Iowa, Spring 1969

THE DRAKE RELAYS “America’s Athletic Classic”

One of the top Track & Field events in the U.S.

Coach Vandenburg decides at the last minute to make Pete the last leg in the relay, running against Jim Ryun.

Pete: “ I don’t understand. I don’t run the fastest mile.”

Coach: “It’s not always about who has the faster time. This is a mind game too. The man who runs against Ryun has to not only be fast but tough, mentally tough. If our man starts to overthink who he’s running against, he’s finished. I know I can count on you. You’ve got the fire and toughness to mentally win this race.”

Pete is jolted back to the present when he sees his teammate approach. In slow motion as he builds up to top speed in the Changeover Box, the third relay runner comes up from behind and hands him the baton. The handoff is flawless!

RACING FOR HIS LIFE

against Jim Ryun the “Fastest Man on Earth”

(Continued)

As Pete crosses the finish line, people pour out of the stands. Adults and kids surround him, congratulating him and asking for his autograph!

Pete bears down and runs down the straight away to the finish line. The crowd is roaring with crazy excitement as Pete approaches the finish line with Jim Ryun far behind him.

At full speed, Jim Ryun receives his baton. Pete has a slight lead created by his teammates, but Ryun is not far behind.

As they approach lap 2, Pete’s lead over Ryun is shrinking. Suddenly, we hear thunder and it starts to rain.

As Pete and Ryun round

the bend in the last lap,

the crowd in the stadium

is going wild with cheering

and shouts of encouragement for Pete!

Pete sees Coach Vandenburg standing

on the side of the track waving and shouting, “Go! Go! I think Ryun gave up!”

Pete (voiceover): “People think during a race nothing’s going on in a runner’s head except thinking about running. But there’s plenty of time to think. That’s the problem. When you start to think, you can start to worry and doubt yourself.”

DREAM SHATTERED

Back in 1971, Pete finishes his story with

Mr. Jordan, the Athletic Director at Bel Aire High School.

Mr. Jordan: “Wow, so you and Jim Ryun! (pause)

So let me ask you. Why do you want to coach at Bel Aire?

A high school? Don’t you want to coach at the college level?”

Pete: “I want to work at a high school because that’s when Coach Ostrand made a real difference that affected my whole life, even now. I want to make that kind of difference too.”

Mr. Jordan tells Pete he can’t hire him without his citizenship papers.

MEN WITH NO EYES

As Pete drives home disappointed about his job prospects at Bel Aire High School, he’s pulled over by a cop. As the cop approaches wearing dark sunglasses, he tenses up.

Flashback to Anthony, Texas 1953, Pete’s a small child playing in the dirt in front of some small shacks.

In the distance, he sees a dust cloud trailing a green van. The van approaches until it pulls up to his yard.

Two big white guys get out of the van wearing cowboy hats, boots, and western shirts…and dark sunglasses. They’re immigration officers.

After talking with Pete’s mother Anna and refusing to wait for Pete’s father to explain their citizenship status, they round up Pete, his sisters, and Anna. They’re loaded into the van and dumped off in Juarez across the border!

Anna is furious and all the kids are crying. They’re quickly repatriated by Pete’s father with Green Cards for all!

“This was the most terrifying moment of my life.

I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

THE 24 HOUR SOLUTION

Despondent, Pete arrives home and calls Coach Vandenburg at UTEP about his citizenship problem.

Coach, however, is not phased.

“Whoa there! You’re not a quitter!

I know, I know, rules schmools. Let’s see what I can do. Keep the faith man!”

Within 24 hours, Coach Vandenburg sets up a meeting with two men

in a downtown El Paso diner. One a prominent bank president and the

other an immigration judge. The banker becomes Pete’s sponsor, the

judge arranges for Pete to become a citizen, and Coach is the witness.

Coach Vandenburg and the other men order lunch, while Pete signs the stack of papers on the dining table.

Coach Vandenburg: “Joe, Judge Conrad, order anything on the menu, my treat.

Pete, you don’t get any food until you finish signing everything.”

Coach Vandenburg: (to waitress while looking at her name tag) “Are there any specials today Judy? I really love your hair.”

Pete rolls his eyes at Coach’s schmoozing.

CHAMPIONS LIVE FOREVER

A flag waves in the breeze over Bel Aire High School as Pete walks onto campus in the morning.

Students greet him as Coach Romero.

In a slow dissolve, we see the interior of the banquet hall at the beginning of our story. It is 2018. Pete is introduced with his Bel Aire High School, Track and Cross Country Teams.

We see Pete for the first time in the present day at 75 years old.

As the banquet hall erupts in applause, we see the image of Pete as a young man running in the vineyards of the California San Joaquin Valley.

This image comes alive with motion reminiscent of the opening sequence of the film. Our view zooms out and we see Pete as a tiny figure running in a vast vineyard.