As somebody used to ask, what in the world interests women? Well, competition, for one thing, and last week brought a small, impromptu road race in documentation. Sweeping up to London Thursday night in her gleaming black, chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, returning from a visit to her sister's castle at Windsor, came Britain's Princess Margaret. Bowling along from the airport in her twinkly black, chauffeur-driven Humber came France's Brigitte Bardot into the same stretch of road. And so it befell somehow that, mile after mile, sometimes at speeds up to 80, the two limousines raced along, with now the Humber, now the Rolls ahead.
The princess, of course. There are limits beyond which even a screen star may not presume. But Brigitte was gallant in defeat. "Most alluring," she said of Margaret. Had the princess recognized her? "I don't know," said B.B., "but she looked at me very hard."
April 20, 1959
Danger at 180 mph
In the 10 weeks since its opening, Florida's new Daytona International Speedway has been the scene of seven high-speed spin-outs, two of which were fatal to the drivers (SI, March 2; April 13). When Bill France, the president of the Speedway, set out to create the fastest automobile racing track in the world he built better than he knew: the Daytona Speedway makes it possible for Indianapolis-type racing cars to reach—and maintain—speeds (180 mph and up) at which their handling characteristics are unknown and danger factors are enormously multiplied. Sadly Bill France announced the other day that big car competition will be suspended on his new track, and that the 300-mile race scheduled for Independence Day will be shifted to Durham, N.C.
"We think we have the fastest and safest track in the world here at Daytona," said France, "but it needs a full evaluation. We want the car owners to accept the track as a challenge and do more experimenting with speeds of 180 and more. Between now and next winter—we've got a big car race tentatively set for February—we think they'll find the answers.
"The most critical problem," he went on, "is keeping the wheels on the ground, keeping them in traction. One man here drove two Thunder-birds in sports car races. One had a locked differential and the other had a free one, the kind where one wheel can spin faster than the other.
"With the locked setup, one of the rear wheels has to slide around the curves; in the free one, it doesn't. The free rear-end steered much better.
"Now the big cars use locked differentials. They slide a little at the corners. At Indianapolis, this is fine; it is not a banked track and they don't reach our speeds. Our setup is different here. Maybe we can't afford to slide at 180 miles an hour. Let's investigate it."
There is also, said France, the problem of aerodynamics. A car doing 180 mph in a 30-mile wind is on the verge of being airborne, and devices are needed which will keep it on the ground. There is the problem of fuel consumption—in a 100-mile race the weight over the rear wheels diminishes by 320 pounds. And there is the fact that big car drivers on the Daytona track were not even aware of their enormous speeds.
Economically the new track will suffer little from the suspension of big car racing. Stock car competition will continue, and it is the track's big moneymaker anyway. Meanwhile, the owners and designers of Indianapolis-type cars will be welcome to use Daytona for experimental work. Eventually, France hopes, they will work out changes in the big cars which will allow them to set startling new records in safety.
"No tickee, no shirtie is the time-honored law of the Chinese laundry; no roomie, no tickee will be the law of the Rome Olympics. Although the 1960 Games are still almost a year and a half away, Olympic officials, hotel men and the city fathers of Rome are already bracing themselves for an avalanche of visitors from abroad. Luxury hotels (many of which are already booked solid), private dwellings, motels, schools, religious institutions and trailer camps are all being called upon to lay out welcome mats, but with every potential bed for visitors taken into account the city cannot muster more than 120,000. Conservative estimates of the number of foreign visitors expected range from 120,000 to 130,000. Hence, no foreign visitor will be allowed to buy a ticket for the Games without proving first that he has a place to sleep.
The Rome Lodging Office (address: Piazza Barberini 21), one of several agencies set up especially to cope with the tourist inrush, has already placed reservations for 40,000 people, including 10,000 Americans. Hotels and pensions are booking reservations abroad through 100 or more officially approved travel agencies which will also buy Games tickets (for the U.S.: American Express Co.).
Distrustful as always of the light-hearted Italian way of doing things, West Germany's travel bureau DER is busy attempting to corral reservations for 500,000 German sports fans. To the casual observer all this might seem to augur a beautiful future for the hotel men and shopkeepers of Rome, as well as those sports fans wise enough to get their reservations in early. But not all Romans were so cheerful. "It's all very well," said one gloomy hotel man last week, "for the Olympic officials to be optimistic about the future. That's all right for them. For us it's a different story. We'll make lots of enemies before this is done."
The Latest with Skiatron
The ups and downs of Skiatron of America, the pay TV concern, are nowhere better reflected than on that outsized barometer called the stock exchange. Skiatron's stock, for example, tripled to $9 in 1957 when word first began to leak out that the Los Angeles Dodgers would be Skiatron's partners in West Coast baseball. Since that time, Skiatron stock has had its downs (to 3‚Öù) on the discouraging news that it might cost $30 million to $60 million to get it started in a single city, and its ups (to 9 again) on reports from the company that pay TV was just a matter of months away.
Last week Skiatron had another such report, specifically that it would begin West Coast closed-circuit television of Dodger and Giant games by April 1, 1960 (not, incidentally, as reported earlier by Skiatron, by July 1, 1959). But at the same time it announced it had entered into an "agreement" for pay TV in other sports, including hockey, boxing, basketball and track, with the Chicago Stadium Corp., James D. Norris, late of the International Boxing Club, chairman.
Skiatron's press relations man couldn't describe the agreement in detail but said it was "probably the most important television-sports pact accomplished this year." Skiatron stock was selling at 9 on Monday when the news was announced. It had seesawed to 8‚Öú by Friday.
The Type We Seek
An alumnus has recommended you as an outstanding student athlete. This is the type of individual we seek, hi maintain our high educational standards as well as to further our athletic needs.
Lewis Qualls, the 18-year-old to whom such phrases are addressed from all over the country, is not just the type that basketball coaches look for, but the archetype. He stands just a trifle over 7 feet tall. He is an honor student at Houston's Smiley High School (his I.Q. is 136) and he will graduate this spring. Sixty-four colleges, ranging from Kilgore (Texas) Junior College to lordly Notre Dame, have offered him scholarships.
Enclosed you will find a questionnaire which I wish you would fill out and return to me at your earliest convenience.
To the basketball coach who gets him Quails will be ham and eggs, money in the bank and dreams come true. To the one who has had him for the last four years, Smiley High School's coach, Herbert Beard, he is a sort of handmade marvel. "When I picked him up out of a P.E. class in the eighth grade he was 6 feet 10 inches and weighed 265 pounds," says Beard. "People made fun of him. They said he'd never play ball, that he was too clumsy. I tried to tell him that those people who were laughing at him would be paying some day to see him play."
They paid. And Quails repaid them—and Coach Beard—in victories. With Quails on the squad, Smiley High School won 129 games, lost 27 and won the state championship twice. "And," says Beard, "we had the hardest schedule in the U.S. We never played anything but Four-A teams and we were Three-A." (He refers to the Texas Interscholastic League's system of classifying high schools according to size and resources.)
Qualls's scoring average was a relatively modest 19 points a game. But, says Beard, "we didn't feed Qualls to make him score. We used him for defense, as a rebounder and as a decoy. When you have a boy 7 feet tall and he sticks his hand up and it reaches 9 feet 7, it throws the opposition's shooting off."
We have had a great deal of experience with tall boys here, and they have been very fine basketball players.
"We'd walk in a restaurant or some place and people would look at me like they thought I was crazy," says Lewis Qualls, speaking not of his behavior but of his height. "But I got to where I talked to people and met people and it didn't bother me. They usually ask, 'How's the weather up there?' That gets pretty old. 'Fine' is about all I say."
Quails is a fair-skinned, crew-cut boy who limits his remarks, whenever possible, to single words like yes, no and fine. The fact that basketball coaches want him the way ordinary men want a Cadillac pleases him but has not changed his point of view.
I am looking forward to your visiting our admissions office, seeing our campus and enjoying one of the many athletic events available here.
"I'll be a while making up my mind," says Qualls when people ask him which of the 64 schools has the best chance. "I like the idea of those trips." On a recent weekend he visited Austin to see the Texas Relays and the campus of the University of Texas. In the future he will probably visit Oklahoma and Minnesota. "Every one of those invitations he gets," says Coach Beard, "he invites me to go with him. He even wants me to go to Minnesota."
The shrewdest planners think Qualls should spend a year in a junior college for seasoning, and then transfer to a university for the major phase of his basketball career. This would give him the best combination of maturity and eligibility. But to this proposal Qualls answers, surprisingly, "No. I'm not going to college just to play basketball. I want an education. I'd rather go to just one school and stay there." He plans to study accounting in college and then enter the business end of the oil industry. He would, naturally, choose a company with an employees' basketball team competing in the high-skilled industrial leagues.
"Coach, I don't mind telling you, this boy simply fascinates me."
Not all basketball coaches agree that Qualls is a finished player—not even all those who have bid for him. "The boy needs more stamina, more coordination, more experience," says one Southwest Conference coach. "His actual value won't be known for another year or two. But you have to reach for him now, because what if he turned out to be a really great player—and what if someone else should get him?"
Facts and Figuring
If you are reading this, you will be no more surprised than we are as a 4-year-old-going-on-5 magazine: the Washington experts who figure America's cost-of-living trends have just asked Congress for $4,600,000 for a four-year re-study of the whole basis of their original calculations, which date from 1949.
Since 1949 we Americans have somehow refused to stand still in our habits. We earn a lot more dollars, and in unexpected ways, and spend them in a rousing variety of ways unexpected by the statisticians of 1949. Random items: one-third of the employees of General Electric are now busy making things that did not even exist before World War II. More people live in suburbs and exurbs. There has been a fall-off in the wearing of formal clothes and a big increase in the wearing of sports clothes, including skin-diving equipment.
And the New York Giants live in San Francisco now. We could have told them.
When we left Sir Edmund Hillary, you'll remember, he was leaning back in his chair in Auckland, N.Z. awaiting reply from Peking to his request to pass through Tibet so as to attempt Mt. Everest again on the unclimbed north face (SI, March 30). He has his answer now in a letter dated February 24 which is written in English and has taken an inexplicably long time getting to Auckland. "We are not able to satisfy your request," the letter says, "due to inadequate conditions."
What the inadequate conditions consist of the note does not say. Perhaps the Chinese foresaw the Tibetan uprising that was to break out a short time later. Or they may have intended an oblique reference to a three-man Russian team which also has designs on the north face. "If that is the case," said Hillary, "it is unlikely I will get permission until the Russians can say they got to the top first."
For the record, Sir Edmund asked the Chinese for permission to climb "Mt. Everest." But Peking does not officially recognize Everest; Sir Edmund was refused permission to climb "Chumulangma"—presumably the way the Panchen Lama spells it.
View from the Terrace
For Ralph Sans, his wife and two children, golf was a way of life. But then it could hardly have been otherwise. Their home, in Ramsey, N.J., was a bare 30 feet from the edge of the Ramsey Golf & Country Club course and hard by the third tee. And windows on three sides of the house, facing the fairway and its water hazard, afforded the Sanses a year-round, sunup-to-sundown view of golf and golfers that even the caddies don't see.
They could see, for example, the women who teed up their balls in the rough. They could watch, with continuing fascination, the double foursome that played day in and day out, holidays included, weather permitting or not. And, from the comfort of their living room easy chairs, they could witness the occasional "snifter" tournaments in which the winner of each hole was rewarded by temporary possession of the traveling trophy, a bottle of whisky. "They were the best games to watch," said Mrs. Sans. "By the second time around, the leader usually had to cross the bridge over the water hazard on his knees."
But there were other golfing types the Sanses could not view with the same detachment. They were the players whose game was off after only two holes. And faced with an over-water carry, they demanded complete silence and respect from the Sans family. One day a man clubbed the Sanses' Labrador retriever unconscious. Its bark was distracting, he said.
Another day a woman told Mrs. Sans and the children to be quiet. (They were singing nursery songs in the kitchen.) They watched silently while the woman neatly plunked her shot into the water. And on yet another day a man hooked his ball into the Sans backyard. Furious, he told Mr. Sans to stop sprinkling his lawn because he was "making it muddy."
Four years ago the adult Sanses, golfers themselves but weary of it all, asked the club either to limit playing hours or alter the third hole. The club (to which they belonged) refused. So the Sanses, who had settled before the course was laid out, took the matter to court. And after protracted litigation in three courts, they got the relief they sought from the New Jersey Supreme Court just the other day. But it was really too late. Full up to here with golf and golfers, Ralph Sans, his wife and two children sold the house and moved a good 12 miles away.
He trained for his matches
Without much hope;
He skimped on the road work
And skipped the rope.
They Said It
National Sports Council of Brazil, on direct orders from President Kubitschek, to the touring Santos soccer team upon learning that race-conscious South Africa had banned four of the team's Negro players: "Leave that locality immediately to avoid further affront to Brazilian commonweal and conscience."
Sammy White, Boston Red Sox catcher, wagging a finger at prices as one reason for the shortage of good men in his specialty: "A kid can get a fielder's glove for $8, but a good catcher's mitt costs $25."
Casey Stengel, New York Yankees manager, explaining why he was wearing pajamas under his coarse woolen baseball uniform: "My skin's been itching ever since I shook hands with that Frank Lane feller."