The cries of joy and anguish were predictable last week at Indianapolis when the United States Auto Club rules committee sharply curbed the power of turbine racers.
Andy Granatelli, whose turbocar outclassed the field in this year's 500 and came within 10 miles of winning the race, said, "They have reduced the power of the turbine so much that it could not qualify for the 500, let alone compete in it. What they have done is effectively ban the turbine by the political way."
Granatelli got support from another longtime Indy competitor, J.C. Agajanian. "I'm very disappointed," he said. "It's not fair to stop progress. This is the jet age, and we've got to live with it. As a car owner, all I wanted was some way of equalizing the turbine so it would be competitive for all of us. I wanted something reasonable, not an out-and-out ban as this decision implies."
Pleased with USAC's ruling were piston-racing enthusiasts like Mario Andretti. "I'm for it," he said. "I don't think the turbine was an interesting car. Furthermore, the accessory companies aren't interested in it, and they are the backbone of racing."
Caught in this crossfire, USAC at least had the courage to make a decision. By reducing the size of the turbine air-intake area and thus decreasing potential horsepower, it is attempting to put turbine and piston cars on equal terms. Before this year's Indy race USAC researched turbines and let Granatelli's car in as a potential equal. In qualifying trials it was fast but not fastest. What nobody fully realized then was that the turbine could run right back to its 166-mph qualifying speed in racing conditions, while the piston cars—having qualified with near-empty tanks and jazzy nitromethane additives—all lost several mph, as they always do. The turbine could accelerate quicker and, with its four-wheel drive, corner better, too.
The USAC officials may well be too restrictive in their new formula, just as the previous formula proved too generous. At least they re-researched the question diligently and made a forthright ruling. If the ruling is proved wrong by next year's performance it should be revised.
Meanwhile, in what may have seemed a similar action but was actually a hasty and regrettable one, an advisory group to the International Automobile Federation (FIA) recommended the reduction of the piston-displacement maximum to three liters in the prototype class at Le Mans and other manufacturer-world-championship endurance runs. If approved this would force Ford to replace its winning seven-liter engine with a drastically different type or quit—a possibility—and it would definitely put Chaparral (seven liters) out of the Le Mans business. The proposal, dubiously linked to "safety," should be rejected by the FIA when it comes up for consideration in September in Milan.
International Olympic Committee rules prohibit an athlete from training at high altitude for more than 30 days a year prior to the Mexico City Olympics, unless, of course, the athlete just happens to have mile-high residence. With that in mind, Sweden has come to a high-level decision. It is sending six members of its Olympic track team to college next fall at the University of New Mexico. The hope is that the Swedish students, who will major in such subjects as physics and math, will find the proper atmosphere (alt. 4,943 feet) for their work.
SLEIGHT OF HAND
On June 25 Larry Lewis was 100 years old and, as is his custom, he went out for his daily run, 6.7 miles around San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. That night he was honored at a dinner given by some of the city's foremost citizens, many of whom he serves daily as a waiter at the St. Francis Hotel.
Lewis says he fought in more than 100 amateur bouts in the 1890s and only lost one. He also worked as a trapeze star for P. T. Barnum, his specialty being a blindfolded somersault. About 70 years ago, feeling his age, he gave up the trapeze to become the chief assistant to Harry Houdini, whom he served for 30 years. Lewis is a longtime vice-president of the American Society of Magicians, and he must be his own best advertisement. Two years ago, when he was 98, he was hurt in an automobile accident, suffering 11 bruised ribs, four skull fractures and five spinal bruises. Long since recovered, he likes to demonstrate his fitness by lifting a banquet-sized coffee pot and pouring 25 cups without a quiver of the hand. And the run around Golden Gate Park? That's not fitness, just everyday exercise.
A British psychologist, Dr. John C. Barker, reports considerable success using electric-shock treatments on compulsive gamblers. His success at curing unfaithful husbands by aversion therapy persuaded the psychologist to try the same technique on other problem patients. He began by hospitalizing a one-armed-bandit fanatic along with a one-armed bandit. The man was allowed to play the machine constantly, but every time he pulled the lever he received a nine-volt jolt. After four days the gambler finally realized, with a shock, that the odds were against him, and he quit. He has not gambled in 18 months.
Curing horseplayers is proving to be more of a problem, because the doctor has found it difficult to realistically present a betting situation in a hospital. He has obtained effective results, though, by running films of the patient placing wagers in betting shops and then administering a shock as the gambler lays down his money. The doctor also plays recordings in the background—music to bet by—that consist of tapes of the patient's wife telling of the consequences of her husband's habit. One man treated in this manner was affected so profoundly that he now has to leave the room if a horse race is shown on television. But another admitted having a relapse. He turned himself in and received three booster shocks.
If the treatment seems extreme, Dr. Barker says, it is the only successful antidote for his extremely sick patients. "We never see them," he says, "until they are six times more in debt than their annual salaries."
No one is more enthusiastic about the remarkable success of the Chicago Cubs (page 14) than Ernie Banks, the Cubs' aging All-Star, who has never been on a first division team in his 14 outstanding years in the National League.
Now every time his Cubs win a home game Banks rushes to the telephone to call the star of whatever team is playing against the Cubs' closest rival for the league lead that night.
Last Thursday, with the Cubs two and a half games out of first place, Banks hurried home from Wrigley Field and allowed a friend to listen in on a call to Willie Mays at the Chase Hotel in St. Louis. It went this way:
Banks: Hello. Willie? That you?
Mays (sleepily; he had evidently been napping): Who is this?
Banks: Who is this? It's Ernie Banks. Listen, Willie. First of all, I want to congratulate you on an outstanding performance last night. [Mays had gone 4 for 4, including two home runs, and the Giants had beaten the Cards.] You're a wonderful player and a fine person. You know that don't you?
Mays: Was that you who called me last night?
Banks: Of course it was me. I wanted to congratulate you.
Mays: I got a message, but I thought it was somebody kidding.
Banks: Kidding! I'm not kidding, Willie. We beat the Pirates again this afternoon. Did you know that?
Mays: I know. Of course I know that. Don't you think I know what's going on?
Banks: Wonderful. Then you know the Cubs are going all the way. Nothing's going to stop this team. There's going to be a city series right here in Chicago, and we're going to sweep the White Sox four straight.
Mays (a note of incredulity in his voice): Are you calling me to tell me that?
Banks: I'm calling you to tell you to go out there tonight and give it your all against the Cardinals. You're a super-star! I want to see you play like a superstar.
Mays: Who's pitching for them?
Banks (positively, as though this was an advantage): Bob Gibson! You hit him. You always hit him. When you come up to the plate against Gibson it's murder. I feel sorry for him tonight.
Mays (giggling): All right. I got to get dressed to go to the ball park.
Banks: Good. That's positive thinking. And when you get there, remember, you're Willie Mays.... No. 24!.... An immortal!
Banks: Willie, you're going to see that ball come out of Gibson's hand. And it's going to float up there to the plate and wait for you to hit it. You hear me?
Mays (laughing): Yeah.
Banks: And then...whammo! It's career home run five hundred.... How many is that going to make it?
Mays (giggling): I don't know. I got to hang up. I got to go.
Banks: You mean you got to go win. The Cubs are going to be one and a half games out when you go to bed tonight. This is our year!
Mays: (Giggle, giggle, click.)
That night the Giants scored 11 runs in the first inning, knocking Gibson out of the box. Mays got two hits and two RBIs. The Cubs closed to within one and a half games of the Cardinals. (Giggle.)
FIT TO KILL
A short, cryptic message came out of Africa a fortnight ago saying that Kenya's famed runner, Kipchoge Keino, would not appear as scheduled in track meets in Finland and the U.S. because he was "too unfit." If that seemed mysterious, a few days later the unfitness report became even harder to believe when Keino was clocked in 3:55 for the mile at a provincial police meet at Nyeri. Since the altitude there is 5,900 feet, Kenya track authorities estimate Keino would have run the same mile in 3:49 at sea level.
When officials of the Kenya Athletic Association got in touch with Keino they were told he would be running in the Kenya Intraprovincial Police Championships, which are to be held in Nairobi the day the U.S. A.-Commonwealth meet opens in Los Angeles. Keino, a police sergeant, said he had only been in training two and a half weeks before his mile at Nyeri, and that he had raced "just to build up stamina and to improve on my fitness. The result was as big a surprise to me as anyone else." He adamantly refused to compete abroad.
By then cables from the sponsors of the foreign meets were arriving in government offices in Nairobi. One from Glenn Davis, promoter of this week's U.S.A. Commonwealth meet, read: ENTIRE FUTURE OF THE MEET AT STAKE. ESSENTIAL KEINO COMES TO LOS ANGELES WHETHER TO PARTICIPATE IN MEET OR NOT. ENTIRE PROMOTION BUILT ROUND KEINO VERSUS RYUN 1,500 METERS.
Finally, on the pleading of officials of the KAA, Keino agreed to appear in Los Angeles. "I am not happy about it," he said. "I do not feel up to meeting Jim Ryun and Ron Clarke yet. But I am a sportsman, and because of this I will accept the invitation. I feel better after winning that mile Saturday." It would seem that he is just unfit enough to worry the competition.
THEY SAID IT
•Casey Stengel, on his days as an outfielder: "I was such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks in batting practice."
•Manuel Santana, after being upset in the first round at Wimbledon: "For the past year everyone tried extra hard to beat me just because I was the Wimbledon champion. Now it will be different. I will be one of the hunters instead of the hunted man."
•Y. A. Tittle, discussing the 49ers' surplus of quarterbacks: "I've got a plan. I'll start John Brodie in deference to his age, then confuse the opposition with George Mira in the second quarter, give the Go-go Generation something to cheer about by using Steve Spurrier in the third quarter and then in the fourth quarter I'll come in myself to clean up the mess."