CALIFORNIA'S BELTING BEV
Beverly Baker Fleitz, a strawberry blonde from Long Beach, Calif., is the leading—and easily the prettiest—aspirant to the world tennis throne recently vacated by Maureen Connolly. This week, lissome little (5 feet 4 inches, 116 pounds) Beverly celebrated her 25th birthday by defeating the veteran Louise Brough 8-6, 3-6, 6-2 in the finals of the La Jolla tournament. Just a year ago at La Jolla, Bev became a name—and a figure—to watch by dealing Little Mo Connolly her only 1954 setback. Forced to default in last fall's Nationals, Bev, now ranked third among U.S. women, is ready again to put her powerful and effective ambidextrous game to useful work. Mother of a two-year-old daughter, Bev says confidently: "I have good tournament temperament."
PEOPLE WITH PROBLEMS
Fighter kid Gavilan argues his case with gestures before the Miami Beach Boxing Commission. The former welterweight champion and his trainer, Ramon Mundito Medina, were accused of calling local boxing officials dishonest after Gavilan lost a decision there to Hector Constance. Fighter and trainer were fined $100 each.
March 21, 1955
Racer Donald Campbell, son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, poses with his 2½-ton turbo-jet hydroplane in which he hopes to smash the world water-speed record of 178.497 mph. During trials at Lake Ullswater, England, Campbell was nearly killed when he sped into shallow water at 150 mph, turned away with only six feet to spare.
Queen Elizabeth, displaying the royal sporting look for early March in wet England, was just another loser at the National Hunt Race Meeting in Cheltenham as her horses Devon Loch and M'as-tu-vu both lost. Pondering her failures with Sir Willoughby de Broke, the Queen wears an olive-green hat, a phantom beaver coat and zippered boots.
Slugger Al Rosen, Cleveland's invaluable third baseman, reveals to the camera that he still cannot wrap the index finger of his right hand around a bat. Rosen injured the finger while fielding a grounder last season, thereafter his hitting sagged. Former home-run and RBI leader and Most Valuable Player in the American League, Rosen otherwise seems ready.
Fan (singular) And fans (plural) make early commitments to their favorite teams. In Miami (above) a lone rooter sits in the 68,000-seat Orange Bowl pulling for the rambunctious University of Miami Hurricanes in a spring practice game. At Milwaukee (below) several thousand Braves' fans, some of whom waited for 16 hours, mill about in the snow trying to get seats for the opening game against Cincinnati, April 12.
12 ROARING HOURS
Into the orange-grove town of Se-bring in southern Florida last week poured a special breed of sportsmen: the sports car road-race drivers, their accompanying pit crew technicians and thousands of wide-eyed spectators. They had due reason to take up positions at deactivated Sebring airport early Sunday morning. The occasion was the annual Florida International 12-hour Grand Prix of Endurance, an imposing name which suggests that Sebring has become the Le Mans of the western world, with its nine hours of daytime and three hours of darkness driving over a 5.2-mile course.
"It is not a course that kills you," the veteran American driver, Briggs Cunningham, appraises it, "but it can kill your car." Other veteran drivers were inclined to agree with American Bob Said, who moaned, "It's flat and wide; you can be a hero and slide, but unless you watch it, Sebring will wear out your whole machine with its corners." This test of brakes, gear box and driver (the course requires drivers to vary speeds from 140 mph down to 15 mph) attracted a record field of 80 cars—28 different makes representing 11 countries. At stake were individual championship points and a welter of lesser prizes.
Lined up on the airport runway, the cars ranged from a cocky little Bandini with a cylinder displacement of only 690 cc. to a whopping Cad-Kurtis of 5,842 cc. But each car had a chance for full honors in the race as a whole and also among cars of its own class. Among pit crews who spent days testing their own equipment—and semi-secretly clocking the opposition-the top favorites for over-all honors were the 2,999-cc. Ferraris in Class D and the brand-new Jaguar D (3,442 cc.) owned by Cunningham and competing in Class C (SI, Mar. 14).
The Cunningham Jag, driven by Englishman Mike Hawthorn, zoomed into the lead on the first lap. Not far behind was Phil Hill, runner-up in the Pan American road race, driving a Ferrari.
Now the grind quickly begins to tell. Cunningham, at the wheel of his own Cunningham C6R, retires with a slipping clutch. Pan American Winner Umberto Maglioli, driving a Ferrari with the Marquis de Portago, exits with a clutch stuck in high gear; Jim Kimberly's Ferrari has a failing differential. Also out early is Porfirio Rubirosa, who cracks up a Ferrari. As the D-Jag pulls slowly ahead, Carroll Shelby, taking over for Hill in the Ferrari, is just beginning to hit his stride. Hill, watching Shelby, who is driving with one arm still bandaged from his Pan American crash, says approvingly: "He's driving like a dream—three minutes, 50 seconds a lap. But there just aren't any brakes." By nightfall Hill and Shelby, still driving like dreams, are up in second place just a lap behind the D-Jag. A Lincoln-Curtis, an Osca, a Porsche and a Renault are all steering toward victories in their classes. Four small Arnolt-Bristols, which eventually swept to first, second, fourth and fifth place in Class E, seem to have no serious competition.
With but two hours left, the D-Jag encounters troubles: dropping oil pressure, a water leak and failing brakes-then a fouled plug. In 20 minutes it makes three pit stops, but the confident team of Hawthorn and Walters figure their lead is safe. The margin is a lap and some two minutes.
At the Ferrari pit, Manager Ugolini figures his Hill-Shelby car one lap closer to the Jag. At 9 p.m., with only 60 minutes to roll, the official clockers reverse their standings, put the Ferrari ahead. A friend yells to Ugolini at 9:25, "It's official! The Ferrari is three minutes, 13 seconds ahead." As the 10 o'clock finish gun sounds, Shelby sweeps down the last straightaway and into a mass of welcoming arms. Even before he can tell Owner Allen Guiberson how he and Hill have done it, the officials are back in the act. Their revised verdict: Cunningham's D-Jag had won after all—by just 10 seconds—after roaring 951.6 miles at an average speed (including all pit stops) of 79.3 mph. The Ferrari board of strategy quickly tosses a big loud protest.
The business of rechecking events of the roaring 12 hours at Sebring will now go before a special board in New York on March 28. Said the protesting but good-natured losers, "Well, it was dark, and scorekeeping is hard under those conditions. But anyway, it was a hell of a good race."
Britisher Mike Hawthorn at the wheel of the Jaguar D which was named provisional winner. Car covered 951.6 miles.
Phil Hill and Co-driver Carroll Shelby took late lead in a Ferrari have now protested 10-second winning margin awarded to the Jaguar.
Trecherours hairpin turn coming off a 120-mph straightaway forces drivers to brake down to 15 mph.
Weary but exultant victory team of Jaguar D Owner Briggs Cunningham, Co-drivers Hawthorn and Phil Walters group happily after checkered flag.
PAN AMERICAN GAMES
The symbolic flame is lit. Eligio Galicia, full-blooded Indian distance runner, stands at attention after performing the traditional rite opening the Second Pan American Games at Mexico City. Galicia was the last of a relay of runners who brought the flame to the city from La Estrella, a mountain 25 miles away, where the ancient Aztecs once burned ceremonial fires. From March 12 to 26, more than 2,000 amateur athletes from 22 American nations are competing for Western Hemisphere championships in a huge dress rehearsal for the 1956 Olympics. Quartered in dormitories of the University of Mexico, the competitors will perform most of the 18 events in the magnificent and vast elliptical stadium where the impressive twilight opening ceremonies were held before a capacity crowd of 102,000. Dozens of doves flapped skyward, and 21 guns boomed as Mexico's President Ruiz Cortines strode forward, raised his country's flag and opened the games "in the name of fraternity of the Americas...liberty and peace."
But one big fact had not been taken into due account—the savage effect of Mexico City's 7,400-foot altitude on thousands of lowlander athletes. During the opening ceremonies one of the U.S. boxers collapsed on the field from oxygen lack. Next day when the races began, men and women started dropping in droves. America's Gordon McKenzie, the favorite in the 10,000 meters, gave out after seven laps. Belatedly, U.S. track officials realized that oxygen bottles were as important in Mexico as spiked shoes.