Who is Houston McTear, and why should we care?





The Movie   |   "A one-in-a- billion athlete."

The True Story of Houston McTear

He was the fastest man in the world… but he couldn’t outrun life.

“9 Seconds” is the true story of Houston McTear, a one-in-a- billion athlete who rose from crushing poverty to worldwide fame… then descended into homelessness and drug addiction before rising again to find redemption.

Houston grew up in rural Florida, in a dilapidated shack across the train tracks from a sawmill. He spent his youth dodging raindrops from his leaky ceiling and racing the freight trains that charged past his home. It was there that Houston developed his gift: to run faster than any human who has ever lived.

In 1975, as a high school junior, he stunned the sports world when he tied the world record in the 100 yard dash with a time of 9 seconds flat. His rise to stardom was similarly fast – magazine covers, jet- setting around the world, hanging out with Muhammad Ali – all under the watchful eye of the charismatic promoter Harold Smith.

Then it all fell apart. Harold Smith was arrested for a massive bank embezzlement scheme; it turns out he was one of the most notorious con men of the 20th century. Houston was left with no friends, no money, and nowhere to run. He turned to drugs, and within two years, he was homeless on the beach in Santa Monica.

After nearly a decade of sleeping on the sand, he reconnected with an old track friend, Swedish star Linda Haglund . With her help, Houston cleaned up and began an amazing comeback.

It culminated in 1991, when, at age 34, he stunned the sports world for a second time by defeating track’s premier sprinters at the European World Championships.


Who is Houston McTear?   |   "Tearing His Way Up From Nowhere"

•  Houston McTear was the World's Fastest Human. He is widely considered the fastest sprinter to ever live.

•  He came from the most meager circumstances imaginable: a shack at the end of a dirt road, in the rural backwoods of Florida, where his entire family, including 8 siblings, slept in the same room under a leaking roof, and a bowl of dry cereal was considered a meal.

•  As an untrained high school junior, McTear tied the world record in the 100-yard dash (9.0 seconds).

•  He was on the verge of global stardom-twice- but lost everything due to bad luck,bad choices, and a disastrous relationship with a world-class con man.

•  McTear lived homeless on Santa Monica Beach for the better part of the eighties. With the help of a female Swedish sprinting champion, 31-year-old McTear rehabilitated himself and embarked upon a comeback even more surprising than his initial success fourteen years earlier.

What Did He Do?   |   "Fantastic McTear Remains Unbeaten."

• Ran a 9.8 in the 100-yard dash at age 15, wearing cutoff jeans and sneakers.

• Set a national high school sophomore record in the 100 (9.4).

• Set world records in both the 60-yard and 60-meter dashes.

• Was featured in Life and People magazines and appeared twice in Sports Illustrated, including the cover in May 1978.

• Qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Olympics.

• Overcame drug addiction and a nine-year year layoff to win the European Championships at age 34.

Why Should We Care?   |   "Greatest Sports Story Never Told"

• Because Houston McTear is the embodiment of human courage, and the details listed on this site represent only a fraction of his amazing story.

• Because no athlete in American history has ever been as exalted, then as humbled, then as exalted again, as Houston McTear.

• Because no other athlete has emerged from the horrors of hunger, poverty, and lack of shelter to become a world-class athlete... twice in one life.

• Because no athlete has ever outrun both a speeding freight train and a thoroughbred horse before age nineteen.

• Because the mention of his name in track circles never fails to bring about raised eyebrows ["Who told you about him?"], a smile, and a new story about his legendary talent.

• Because the real story of Houston McTear is even more amazing than the myths that surround him... and his whole story will soon be told.


  • Runs 9.8 in tennis shoes and cut off jeans. (8th grade)



  • Runs 9.4, sets nat'l sophomore record (10th grade)



  • Football, rushes for 1380 yds on 96 carries & 16 TDs
  • March 4, wins US-USSR meet in Richmond, VA, 60 yards in 6.0 seconds
  • May 9, 1975, matches world record with 9.0 in 100 yard dash
  • May 15, 1975 first SI feature story
  • October, races the horse (11th grade)


  • Ali buys the McTears a house, $30,000
  • Finishes 2nd in Olympic trials, but pulls a hamstring; left off the US Olympic Team


  • Summer, wins 7 of 8 races in Europe


  • Undefeated in indoor season. Houston: "I don't think I can be beat."
  • January, 1st annual Muhammad Ali Invitational; beats world-class field
  • May, AAU Championships at Madison Square Garden; breaks own world record in the 60 yard dash.



  • January 5, runs 6.38 60 meters, world record
  • Russia invades Afghanistan, olympics boycotted
  • Jimmy Carter invites Olympians to the White House. Houston doesn't go.

The Team   |   Telling "The Greatest Story Never Told"

JODY WOYTAS, Executive Producer


Jody Woytas is an award winning television and feature film producer/director. Jody is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and has been associated with 20th Century Fox since 1997. He has been an integral part of 20th Century Fox Sports start‐up Networks; Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports Networks group. Jody is also the founder and CEO of Shepherd Film & Entertainment, and is an Executive Producer and Managing Partner with Steel Tree Films, who in 1997 produced the award winning independent film “Rat Bastard”. He has also worked on the behind the scenes making of Rocky 5.



Kelly Kiernan is an executive with Dreamworks Animation. She has over 20 years of experience in the industry both as a studio executive (New Regency Films), production manager and assistant director. Kelly has lectured internationally, and has production experience in such distant locations as: Russia, Europe, Romania, Amsterdam, Japan, Mexico, Guam, Canada and the Arctic Circle.

Her credits include such projects as Epic Movie and Firehouse Dog. While working for New Regency Kelly has also been involved with such films as Just My Luck and Big Momma’s House 2. Kelly was also an executive on the blockbuster Mr. & Mrs. Smith. During the production of Man on Fire (starring Denzel Washington) Kelly was involved in the action sequences and stunt units as the 2nd Unit UPM. Ms. Kiernan has worked as a producer, line producer, production manager, and assistant director on numerous feature films, television series, and national commercials. Ms. Kiernan is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), has worked for various studios, and has traveled throughout the world on many of her shows. Some of her previous credits include Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Price for Peace, Hearts of Darkness, The Ice Runner, Animal Rescue Kids (TV series), 90210 TV Series, Friday the

13th, Apt Pupil, The Trigger Effect, and Salmonberries.


B.D. GUNNELL, Producer


B.D. Gunnell is an accomplished Producer, Line Producer, and Production Manager. Her work has crossed many forms of media; ranging from music videos and television series within New Media to her primary passion of feature films.

In 2008, Gunnell was selected as the lead producer, on the gritty, urban drama Pirate Jenny which was shot for a mere $20,000. As a result, Hollywood stood up and noticed her. Although that film put Gunnell on the map, Hollywood became visibly impressed with her sophomore project, the award winning Birds of a Feather. In that film she worked with such celebrities as Academy Award Winning actress Olympia Dukakis, Trevor Donavan (90210), and Joe Slaughter (Step‐Up 3D). The Film was accepted as an entrant in several prestigious Film Festivals where it garnered Best Director, Audience Award, and Best of the Festival.




John is a film and television writer/director/producer, focused on telling compelling stories that audience members can relate to and become inspired by. With over a decade’s worth of experience in production, John has worked on a variety of projects from independent films to hit scripted TV shows and live sporting event coverage. His credits include Fox Sports Live, UFC Tonight, Fox College Saturday, Ugly Betty, The Closer, The Dukes and his 2010 feature documentary Youngstown: Still Standing.

Steve Overstreet, Producer


Steve's Independent film passion comes in the form of a deep need to reach people through engaging and life changing stories of inspiring people. He has been leading the social media charge for businesses for over 25 years and brings this extensive and much needed skill to bear for "9 Seconds". The ability to reach a world wide audience through interactive means today is the way to secure the future of any film. Working in film has been his passion, and creating compelling images was his first priority behind such short films as "Dude! We gotta make a movie.", "Blind Date", and the independent feature, "Vertical" (winner of multiple festival awards). After working for FOX Sports Network, Steve has put his  extensive technical efforts and skills into Aerial Cinematography with partner and Cinematographer Kurt Soderling.

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