Armando Spatafora was known as an Italian “flying squad” police officer who drove a Ferrari 250 GTE as his patrol car. That’s because the Alfa Romero cars they were driving just couldn’t keep up with the crooks any more. This fast response unit — known in Italian as Squadra Mobile — was tasked with catching cops by any means necessary.
According to Super Car Tribe, Enzo Ferrari was involved with the project because he thought that he could sell police cars to all major cities in Italy. Amongst all the police officers, Spatafora proved to be the fastest and showed so much skill that Enzo offered him a place on the Ferrari factory racing team. Spatafora was loyal to the police force and said no.
This film features several of the real stunts from Sparafora’s police career, such as jumping over the famous Spanish Steps in the center of Rome.
Highway Racer was also the first of six films that Maurizio Merli (The Tough Ones, Mannaja) made with director Stelvio Massi (Mark of the Cop, Convoy Busters). If you’re looking for a high speed Italian crime movie with some out of control stunts, well, you really can’t do much better.
Highway Racer is one of five movies on Arrow Video’s Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977. These films are great examples of the Italian poliziotteschi genre and the set includes high def versions of this movie, Savage Three, Colt 38 Special Squad, Like Rabid Dogs and No, the Case Is Happily Resolved. There’s also an interview with historian Roberto Curt on this disc. You can get it from MVD.