VIEW FROM THE STANDS
Bob Ottum is right. Indy must mend its rules (A Crazy, Mixed-up 500, June 6). The starting rows should be two abreast, and the starting field itself should be cut.
With two machines alongside each other, there would be more room when everyone goes gung-ho into the first turn, and with fewer cars traveling at nearly equal speeds, the race would be competitive.
I'm not against the race per se. If 30 or so men want to get together and see who can be the first to prove it's impossible to negotiate a curve at 170 mph, it's O.K. with me. But it does seem a little pointless, since the guys who discover this fact are carried off the track with a sheet over their faces and never get a chance to pass on this valuable information to the rest of the field.
The competition is unrealistic at the Indianapolis 500. Half the field is made up of fine sportsmen and excellent race drivers who are very large on common sense, and the other half are a bunch of fender-slappers. I am not vastly buoyed to know that some guy can step off the stock circuit and get behind the wheel of a machine that can go 200 mph and no one stops to ask how many frames he has sprung in the last three years. And what's worse, no one seems to care. Certainly not the fellow who pays good money to lean over the infield rail and stand the deathwatch. He and the guy who kicks in stained-glass windows, I'm convinced, are one and the same.
Yes, Indy must mend its rules, and it should begin by not selling tickets to this weird pagan performance.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
It was a long race—and definitely showed the need for more precautions to insure the safety of its participants. For one thing, you can never realize how sadistic and hellish some people are until you see them carelessly, and in some cases deliberately, littering the track with papers and plastic bags and throwing beer bottles over the heads of the crowd to the foot of the fence. I know; I was hit on the back of my head by one. All of these things, plus a few more, add to the sometimes perilous conditions these drivers have to endure. I, for one, wonder what these spectators' homes look like. Is this just a release of stupid energy?
Your LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER in the May 30 issue was definitely the finest article I have ever read concerning the sport of automobile racing and the Indianapolis 500 in particular. It is too bad, but it seems as though the only time much of the public ever hears about a race is when there is a tragedy involved. I am an avid racing fan, and it is heartwarming indeed to see the stand SI takes on this issue.
PVT. RAYMOND E. FAULKNER, USA
U.S. Armed Forces, Germany
Janet Graham's article, Rule of Thumb for the Open Road (June 6), brings back fond memories of my "thumbing" tour of Europe in 1960. Never have I read such a concise yet correct description of the travelers with whom I associated for seven months. I personally used a number of the techniques described by Miss Graham and feel certain I observed most of the others.
For most of us who have used the auto slop mode of transportation, it has been more than an inexpensive means of travel. It is an opportunity to learn history, language, geography, foreign culture and customs—an education in itself. My advice to those who have never thumbed is try it, it's great!
San Carlos, Calif.
As a college senior who has hitchhiked all over the United States, and who loves the adventure of the sport, I found Janet Graham's article great fun to read. Miss Graham mentioned several hitching feats in her article, one being an 873-mile trip in Britain covered in 39 hours. A friend of mine and I once left Springfield, Ohio—half an hour after putting his girl friend on a bus headed for her home in Sarasota, Fla. We hitched the 1,200 miles in 33 hours and arrived at the girl's house just as the bus was letting her off.
I covered better than 7,000 kilometers during my 10 weeks in northern and central Europe and encountered many of the obstacles as well as the enjoyments which Miss Graham relates. Although her credentials as a hitchhiker are obvious, I believe there are a few things deserving mention that she doesn't bring up. One is that in Europe most traffic stops at night. I have also done over 10,000 miles in America, and my experience has been that I could go for 24 hours a day until I reached my destination. Not so in Europe. The first time I tried it I ended up on a desolate road in central Sweden from 1 a.m. until 7 that morning, during which time all of four cars passed me, none of which stopped. After that I began looking for towns with youth hostels and endeavoured to reach them by 9 p.m.
Adventure-minded European travelers would do well to consider hitchhiking as a means of travel. I found no better way to learn about the people of a given country or area.
ROBERT K. ENTRIKEN JR.
"Those who wish to travel long distances on small purses should pack their kit bags and try hitchhiking, a sport that requires nerve, ingenuity, endurance and an unshakable faith that the next ride is just around the corner." I suggest it also requires a knowledge of the various laws. In some states here in the U.S., hitchhiking is against the law. I absolutely go along with the warnings of J. Edgar Hoover on this subject. He has written articles in which he points out the many dangers of picking anyone up on the highway and the dire consequences suffered by many who did—that is, if they lived to tell about it. If I should be "just around the corner," I would not supply "the next ride."
OPEN AND SHUT
Your article on country-club pro George Thomas (A Nobody at the Open, June 13) was very enjoyable, but you did not tell us how George's chances look for this year.
JAMES E. LEDYARD
West Grove, Pa.
•Unfortunately, George Thomas failed to qualify for this year's Open. One reason: for the second time in his life he took a 7 on a par-3 hole.—ED.
DRY FLIES ARE ALL WET
After reading The Trout Sleep Late (May 16), it has occurred to me that Alma Kunz very graciously condescends to tolerate the wet-fly man but, alas, does not even mention the nymph fisherman, presumably because the latter rates even lower on Mr. Kunz's ethical totem pole.
Since 75% to 80% of the food that trout consume consists of underwater forms, it is difficult, at first glance, to understand just why the self-appointed arbiters of trout fishing ethics—the "purists"—have chosen the dry fly as their sacred cow. Dry fly, wet fly or nymph, they are all imitations of insects at various stages of the life cycle. It may be of interest to compare certain aspects of dry-fly and nymph fishing.
1) The rise of a trout to a floating fly may be easily noted. However, since the submerged artificial nymph is not visible to the fisherman, the offer for it is far more difficult to detect, particularly in broken water.
2) The floating fly is fished with a dead drift. The nymph must be manipulated to simulate the normal movement of a natural nymph rising to the surface to shed the nymphal shuck.
3) Tank photographs suggest that the fish sees only the hackle points and tail whisks of the dry fly, the body appearing as an indistinct blur and the wings as mere shadows. Therefore any dry fly that approximates the size and general conformation of an adult fly on the water will generally do the job. The submerged nymph, however, is completely visible in all its detail to the fish in his own element, and a mere "impression" will not serve.
The reason the dry fly rather than the nymph has become sacrosanct seems fairly obvious—it requires a lesser degree of fly-tying and stream craft and is therefore easier.
Give me 10 days on the Teton to collect natural nymphs and make up representations of them. Then, fishing equal hours each day—half the time when natural adult insects are on the water and half when they are not—and I will undertake, with the nymph, to beat the respective tails off Mr. Kunz and his dry flies.
S. B. ROBESON
P.S. I feel perfectly safe in making the last statement. I will never have the time or means to visit the Teton to fish for trout.
We of the Professional Bowlers Association enjoyed Donn Lee's comments (19TH HOLE, May 30) about your article, It's Bigger than Bingo (May 16). His letter, however, contained an erroneous conclusion. Bowling does draw as a spectator sport.
Consider that in just seven years more than two million sports fans have paid to watch our professional bowling tournaments in spite of somewhat limited spectator facilities.
Consider also that some 12,000 fans paid the price of admission to watch the $100,000 Firestone PBA Tournament of Champions in Akron late in March. More significant, an estimated 8,000 fans were turned away because the building could not accommodate more.
JOSEPH R. ANTENORA