Torrance Tornado Triumphs

  • Louie starts 10th grade

    Louie starts 10th grade
    Louie begins his later teens at Torrance High School.
  • Louie starts running competitively

    Louie starts running competitively
    Seeing a talent in his younger brother, Pete Zamperini encourages Louie to pursue track. Pete learns to coach Louie and push him to success.
  • UCLA Cross Country Meet

    UCLA Cross Country Meet
    Louie wins his first cross country meet's 880yd race by more than a quarter of a mile.
  • Southern California Track and Field Championship

    Southern California Track and Field Championship
    Louie ran the mile in 4:21.3, beating the national high school record by over two seconds.
  • Glenn Cunningham sets the world record for fastest mile

    Glenn Cunningham sets the world record for fastest mile
    <a href='http://<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oyPSGk_N5Ww" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>' >1934 Fastest Mile</a>Running a miles in just 4:06.8, Cunningham broke the world record and inspired Louie to set his sights on the Berlin Olympics.
  • Louie graduates high school

    Louie graduates high school
    With the dream of entering the Berlin Olympics burning brightly within him, Louie accepted USC's offer after graduation and trained incessently with Pete by his side.
  • USC Coliseum 5k Race

    USC Coliseum 5k Race
    Pete convinces Louie to race in the Compton Open against Norman Bright. Pete said to Louie, "If you stay with Norman Bright, you make the Olympic team." Bright beats Louie by a sliver but Louie is invited to the final of the Olympic Trials.
  • 5000 meter Olympic qualifying race

    5000 meter Olympic qualifying race
    While his toe injury allowed Bright to beat Louie by four yards, Louie clocked the third-fastest 5k since 1931 and was invited to the final Olympic trials in New York.
  • Louie leaves for New York

    Louie leaves for New York
    Louie prepares himself for the final qualifying race for the Olympics. His family presents him with a shnazzy suitcase bearing "Torrance Tornado", which he modestly covered on his trip. In one of the hottest summers on record in America, Louie has to race in over 100 degree weather.
  • The U.S Olympic team leaves for Germany.

    The U.S Olympic team leaves for Germany.
    During the journey overseas, Louie returned to his pickpocketing habits to prove his "Phi Beta Kappa" merit. Additonally, training became difficult for the athletes in the confined quarters of the "Manhattan".
  • Period: to

    Final Olympic qualifying 5k

    With high hopes, Louie wrote to Pete, "If I have any strength left from the heat, I'll beat Bright and give Lash the scare of his life." Lash and Louie finished neck and neck, and while Lash officially won, Torrance praised their "hometown boy". Louie was the youngest distance runner to make the Olympic team.
  • Louie's memorialized dinner aboard the Manhattan

    Louie's memorialized dinner aboard the Manhattan
    1 pint of pineapple juice
    2 bowls of beef broth
    2 sardine salads
    5 rolls
    2 tall glasses of milk
    4 small sweet pickles
    2 plates of chicken
    2 helpings of sweet potatoes
    4 pieces of butter
    3 helpings of ice cream with wafers
    3 chunks of angel food cake
    1 1/2 lbs of cherries
    1 apple
    1 orange
    1 glass of ice water
  • 5k qualifying race in Berlin

    5k qualifying race in Berlin
    In order to qualify for finals, on August 7th, 1936 Louie has to make top five out of all the heats of the 5,000 meter race. Louie just barely catches fifth place as he says he was "tired as hell."
  • 5k Olympic final

    5k Olympic final
    <a href='<a href='http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qNQHsONP4is" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>' >1936 Berlin Olympics' ></a> His number, 751, flapped in the wind as Louie ran the final Olympic race. Feeling sluggish, Louie dropped to twelfth. However, Louie "let go" and ran his last lap in just 56 seconds, finishing with a time of 14:46.8. This was the fastest 5k run by an american in 1936; Louie was just shy of seventh place.
  • Louie arrives home in Torrace

    Louie arrives home in Torrace
    Louie's only thoughts are of the 1940 Olympics and winning the gold for the 1500 meter race. He sets his sights for Tokyo, Japan.
  • Louie sets the NCAA Championship record

    Louie sets the NCAA Championship record
    With Louie boasting about a potential four-second mile, several runners slashed him with their spikes as per their coaches' instructions. Despite this attack, Louie won easily with a 4:08.3, missing the world record by just 1.9 seconds. Two weeks later, he ran a 7:07.9.
  • Louie attends USC

    Louie attends USC
    Louie attends USC on an athletic scholarship for cross country.
  • 1940 Olympics Cancelled

    1940 Olympics Cancelled
    Louie is heartbroken to hear that the Olympics, planned for September 21st to October 6th 1940, in Tokyo, Japan were cancellled because of the outbreak of World War II.
  • Louie joins the army

    Louie joins the army
    After the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics due to war, Louie became sick and left college a few credits short of a degree. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1941, but quit shortly after. Because he didn't bother to look at the papers he'd signed, when he was drafted, he was to rejoin the air corps. Louie was now part of the world struggle against the Axis powers.