RETURN OF THE RACERS
Everyone remembers the last episode in the adventures of Ford Motor Co. and its Racer Boys Abroad. The villainous International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced it was planning new engine-size rules, which would legislate Ford's winning cars out of Le Mans and other noted world endurance runs. Ford protested—a bit too mildly, everyone thought—then vanished without a trace. Well, the Ford boys are back in the U.S. and ready to roar.
A hint of the Ford future came last week when the company announced with a routine yawn that it had signed driving champion Mario Andretti to pilot a factory car in the six-event Canadian-American Challenge Cup series.
The key word in that sentence is factory, and the Can-Am people had best be ready for a wild season.
Ford is building two all-new sports cars for this series, with giant experimental engines called calliopes, described by a Ford public-relations man as "fantastic brutes." In addition, such familiar motoring figures as Holman and Moody, Carroll Shelby and Dan Gurney will roll out six other new cars that will show Ford's unofficial factory touch. All eight cars represent what Ford calls "a shift in emphasis in racing" from Europe back to the United States.
The new cars, still unnamed, will be high-fendered, open two-seaters, 30.7 inches high and capable of doing a smooth 200 mph on straightaways, faster than anything in this division so far.
For impartial racing fans, the stirring thing about this is that Ford, for all of its size, will not steamroller the opposition. It is well known that two fierce new Chaparrals are in the works; last year's Can-Am winner John Surtees and challengers Roger Penske and Mark Donohue have new Lola-Chevrolets ready; a pair of Matick-Repco racers will come from Australia; and the hottest rumor has it that Italy's Enzo Ferrari is preparing two superlight P4s for the battle.
No matter who wins, it is good to have Ford concentrating on U.S. racing once again.
In preparation for next summer's Olympics, Mexico City has announced a cleanup campaign, and Mayor Alfonso Corona del Rosal is starting with the city's infamous cab drivers. All 18,000 of them are attending classes in courtesy, traffic and personal hygiene. They are being advised to take daily baths ("it is good for the body and the spirit," the instructors explain), to cool their voluble passion for comely pedestrians and to restrict their use of profanity to something mortal ears can bear. They also will be issued new uniforms. An old city regulation requires drivers to wear uniforms, but they rarely do, because it hinders their escape if they are involved in a traffic accident.
The slogan for the cab campaign suggests, however, that some Olympic-level fortitude will still be required of cab riders in Mexico City. The slogan is: "Courtesy does not take away bravery."
STORMING THE BEACH
With school just out in the Ruhr district, a flood tide of vacationing German tourists is racing for the North Sea beaches, and Dutch authorities are braced for the attack. Customarily, German families follow the old infantryman's rule of digging in after taking new ground. They stake out a plot on the beach, erect elaborate fortifications of sand around their rented wicker chairs, decorate the high walls with intricate shell designs and defend each fortress as if it were the Atlantic Wall. Sometimes these sand castles fly the German flag.
It is hardly surprising that this does not sit well with the Belgians and the Dutch, who find it difficult to find a patch of public sand in the midst of the hostile bunkers. They regard this fortress-building as a residue of German militarism and have uneasy recollections about Germans and beaches. The German tourists scoff at the complaints against their sand castles. "They are just for privacy, and it keeps the kids busy," one German explains.
The City Council of Austin, Texas, has adopted an ordinance making it unlawful for dogs to bark. The new measure reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or harbor any dog which makes frequent or long continued noise which is disturbing to persons in the neighborhood who have normal nervous sensibilities and ordinary tastes, habits and modes of living."
When the new law was being discussed in the Council city officials were asked why they did not enforce a long-standing law requiring dogs to be leashed. The city fathers explained that law was too difficult to enforce.
LONDON BRIDGE IS COMING DOWN
The garage on North Clark Street in Chicago where the St. Valentine's Day massacre took place is being demolished, but a Chicago stock-car-racing promoter, Perry Luster, who believes that some people have no feeling for the importance of history, intends to fill the monumental void. He says he will buy London Bridge, move it stone by stone to Chicago and reconstruct it between Gate O and the parking lot at Soldier Field, where the customers for his Saturday night stock-car races in the stadium would get full use of it.
The historic bridge, which dates back to Roman days and has been rebuilt three times—after being damaged by battle (in the reign of Aethelred the Unready), fire (the Great Fire of 1666) and flood—was put on the market recently when London's governing corporation decided to replace it with a $3.3 million six-lane span. The British hope to get anywhere from $280,000 to $2.5 million for it. They have received several bids—one from London, Ontario, which already has a River Thames and a Westminster Bridge. That may seem a more suitable site for the old bridge than Soldier Field, but Perry Luster figures if the British were willing to sell the Queen Mary to Long Beach, Calif., for a waterfront hotel, they will be willing to listen to his pitch. "At least I'm idealistic enough to think I can work out the deal," he says. Perhaps he could offer the British one slightly used garage to sweeten the bargain.
Not long ago Buffalo Bill Coach Joel Collier expressed the opinion that basketball players are the best all-round athletes. He believes that half of the NBA could also play professional football. Collier says, "To play basketball you have to have coordination, and thus you can adapt to other games. A player learns to run in all directions and especially to back-pedal. This helps an athlete become a good defensive back in football. Some football players come to the pros never having learned to run backward because they played on offense throughout high school and college. Of course, the main thing a basketball player must prove when he reports for football is that he likes contact."
NBA players K. C. Jones and John Havlicek did try out for pro football before deciding to stick with basketball. Fred Taylor, the basketball coach at Ohio State who taught Havlicek and had to ward off Woody Hayes, who was eager to have him play football, agrees with Collier. He says, "What makes a basketball player excel in most other sports is body balance, footwork and maneuvering speed. It is the ability to change directions quickly without losing balance."
Even Woody Hayes apparently has given considerable thought to Collier's theory. He candidly admits to believing "that there are many great football players who are not really good all-round athletes. This, however, is mostly true of the interior linemen. There are some tremendous football players who couldn't do well in any other sport, except maybe weights, because they simply are aggressive, bull-strong and willing to work a bit harder than other athletes. They've acquired a toughness and strength that isn't really necessary in other sports."
Every summer Yakima, Wash., puts its fittest foot forward by sponsoring a community climb of 12,307-foot Mount Adams, the third highest mountain in the Cascade Range. This year 432 of the 471 climbers who set out made the summit, an achievement that did not call for great mountaineering skill but did require good handling of ice axes and rope. The oldest climber (an 82-year-old man turned back) was a 72-year-old retired fruit rancher, who was a map-maker for General Pershing in World War I, and the youngest a child of 8.
After six weeks of conditioning at the YMCA—doing sit-ups, leg exercises and daily runs—the group setout at midnight two Saturdays ago to scale the snowy peak. Parachute flares illuminated the route until dawn, and by 11:30 Sunday morning almost everyone, including Miss Yakima, had reached the summit. Also at the top was a rocking chair, carried by a guide. From this seat of power Mayor Jack Larson claimed Mount Adams for Yakima.
ESCAPE FROM OBLIVION
Last year East German Track Star J√ºrgen May exclaimed to a Western journalist, "Politics, always politics, iss getting in the way." That was in June. May was his country's outstanding athlete. He had beaten Kipchoge Keino with a 3:53.8 mile and had been feted by his government for contributing to the glory of socialism. Last Thursday morning J√ºrgen May fled to West Germany.
During the European championship meet in Budapest last September, May was reported to East German track authorities by a teammate for having accepted $100 from a West German shoe manufacturer. He was suspended. Later the authorities, apparently suspecting his political reliability, extended the suspension indefinitely—they said "for reasons of health."
In January, May was barred for life, with no further explanation. At the same time he lost his $125-a-month job as a sportswriter for the newspaper Das Volk (The People) and his job as an instructor at an Erfurt sports academy. It was then that he began plotting his escape.
The East German News Agency, commenting on the defection, declared May "had played into the fangs of a Western company from which he accepted a bribe.... He was therefore excluded from any competition, because sports cannot be misused for evil business purposes or personal aggrandizement. Obviously it is the same forces...which have now caused him to sell out his guaranteed living in the German Democratic Republic."
West Germany's Hamburger Abendblatt countered by carrying a statement that May had made three years ago, while he was still on good terms with the East German government: "The path I have taken is typical for the development of a young man in our state."
A BIT OF TEXAS IN TERRE HAUTE
Terre Haute Memorial Stadium, once the home of the Phillies of the old Three-I League, will have the world's first outdoor Astroturf football field. The $125,000 carpet is being installed by Indiana State University for its home games against such teams as Butler, Ball State, Valparaiso, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois. State University President Alan C. Rankin, who is paying for the project with foundation funds, says he is pleased to have the field to offer to all of Terre Haute. High school football games will be held there, and the stadium, which now has 10,000 permanent seats, will eventually be expanded to 24,000.
During the years it was used for baseball, Indiana State's rivals referred to the field as the Mud Bowl or Dust Bowl—depending on the weather—because the field was never sodded. The new surface is drip-dry and vacuum cleaners will suck up any dust. Maintenance costs figure to be dirt cheap.
THEY SAID IT
•Ed Kirkpatrick, on being notified that he was being sent to Jacksonville by the California Angels after having been recalled from Seattle just nine days before: "Somebody else had better tell my wife."
•Bill Pickens, 6'10", 270-pound defensive-line candidate with the Kansas City Chiefs after his first contact with their All-League offensive tackle, Jim Tyrer: "It's like running into a brick wall that has arms."