The heat is on the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Race (SI, Oct. 23), as its sponsor, Brock Yates, warned. If Al Huber, the executive vice-president of the Indiana Traffic Safety Council, has his way, the event will be made illegal. He has written to the National Safety Council, the New York Safety Council and the Indiana State Police urging that any future race be closely monitored all the way across the country and violators of traffic laws be punished. Huber was particularly disturbed by an Indianapolis Slur article by Reporter Robin Miller, who finished fifth in this year's race. Miller wrote that he and his co-drivers averaged 79 mph for the cross-country run and picked up five traffic tickets.
"Evidently I'm safety crazy," Huber said, "but something like this seems to set us back 50 years. I see no great benefit coming to the general public from the Indianapolis 500—I don't buy all that about us not having the rearview mirror if it weren't for the 500—but I have no quarrel with sanctioned, supervised speed events.
"But this infuriates me. I wonder what kind of impression it made on our young people. It's damn near criminal to encourage 40 kooks to violate safety laws all across the country. To me, it is just a crime spree. Young people must say, 'If they can do it, everyone else can do it, too.' "
Despite the National Football League's victory in the courts on the question of its right to black out local television coverage of the Super Bowl (SCORECARD, Dec. 4), some TV people are confident that all local blackouts eventually will be outlawed by Congress. One key reason, they argue, is the exciting rise of the Washington Redskins. When the Skins were moping about near the bottom of the standings, Congress did not have much immediate interest in pro football. But now that Washington is one of the best—if not the best—team in the league. Congressmen are avidly seeking tickets to the Skins' home games. When they can't get tickets, which is often the case, they turn to television. And then they find out what the local blackout of home games means. It is suddenly personal, and when a Congressman finds himself personally discomfited the discomfiture becomes an issue. Maybe even a national crisis.
THE AUSSIES ARE COMING
Esso Australia (it hasn't changed its name) has pledged $25,000 for next year's Australian Davis Cup team, which means the current U.S. monopoly on the cup may end abruptly. The money is to go to John Newcombe, Mal Anderson and Ken Rosewall, who have agreed to play in the matches, and probably to Rod Laver, if he decides to join the others. Australia's happy Davis Cup captain, Neale Fraser, said, "I am reasonably confident we'll have the cup back in Australia next year." Then, in obvious reference to Ilie (Nasty) Nastase & Co., he blithely inserted an aggressive Aussie note to the proceedings by adding, "I would love to see Rumania here just to show them how to play the game of tennis fairly."
GOT THE BIKE RIGHT HERE
At least two manufacturers are planning to revolutionize U.S. transportation habits in the near future with the introduction of bike-cars. One, made by a Windsor, Conn. firm called Environmental Tran-Sport Corporation, is called the Pedicar and will sell for $550 when it goes on the market in January. It looks like a mini-car, with a stately, upright design reminiscent of an old-fashioned electric car. It has four wheels, a plastic body, seats, windows, doors and "extras." It can be propelled by the average driver at speeds of 12 to 15 mph and can climb a 20° grade.
The other, called the PPV (for "people powered vehicle"), is manufactured in Sterling Heights, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. The PPV is low-slung, like a sports car, and has three wheels. It, too, will average between 12 and 15 mph, but when pedaled by two occupants simultaneously it is capable of bursts of up to 30 mph. The PPV is expected to sell for $370.
The bike-cars are for fun and exercise but the manufacturers say they are ideal, too, for quiet, short-distance, no-pollution travel. They think that women on their way to the supermarket will love them.
Football fans in some areas like to chant "Dee-fense" and make special heroes out of front fours and linebackers and safeties. But not in the Western Athletic Conference. The eight teams in that mountain and desert league may have some standout defensive players, but their individual skills were buried under some staggering scores this season. The list is amazing. Arizona gave up 42 points to UCLA, 34 to Oregon Stale, 38 to Arizona State. Arizona State gave up 45 to Wyoming, 48 to Utah, 39 to Air Force. Brigham Young University gave up 42 to Utah State, 49 to Arizona State. Colorado State gave up 41 to Iowa State, 41 to West Texas State, 52 to Air Force, 37 to Florida State, 44 to BYU, 48 to Houston and 62 to Utah. New Mexico gave up 41 to Texas Tech, 31 to Iowa State, 59 to Utah, 60 to Arizona State and 33 to Houston. Texas-El Paso gave up 42 to Lamar University, 39 to Utah, 56 to New Mexico, 45 to Arizona, 55 to Arizona State and 35 to Colorado State. Utah gave up 45 to Texas Tech, 44 to Iowa State, 59 to Arizona State, 44 to Utah State and 36 to Colorado State. Wyoming gave up 45 to Air Force, 52 to Kansas, 43 to Arizona State, 35 to Utah State and 33 to BYU. That is an average of more than 44 points a game. Intraconference battles produced these close-to-the-vest scores: Wyoming 45-Arizona State 43; Arizona State 59-Utah 48; Utah 62-Colorado State 36. Do you think it could be the altitude?
EYES OF YOUTH
Two professors at Ohio University have questioned coaches, trainers, veterans and rookies in professional football to determine what the various groups think the average pro player is like. Their findings are not at all sensational, but they do have one rather interesting disparity. Coaches and trainers agreed that the average pro was determined, ambitious and motivated. Veterans also saw the average player as determined and ambitious but they kind of felt he was conscientious, educated and courteous, too. But the rookies described the average pro as arrogant, demanding, carefree and cantankerous.
Try to take my job, will you, kid?
DOWNHILL ALL THE WAY
Jim Martenhoff, who writes a boating column for the Miami Herald, got interested in the curvature of the earth recently when he learned it is mathematically possible to measure it in fairly small areas. For instance, the water in the middle of a bay one nautical mile wide is about 2.3 inches higher than the water along the shore. Musing on this, Martenhoff facetiously wrote that since this is a pretty fair grade, he could not understand why, when he was on the water, he could not aim his boat in the direction he wanted to go and just slide downhill.
Dan Yuhr, a computer expert in the Dade County school system, was amused by the column but could not resist pointing out with tongue in cheek that the reasoning suffered from superficial logic. No matter where you are on the world's oceans, according to Yuhr, the "crest of the hill" has to be passed over before you can begin to go downhill, and it moves away from you as you approach it. "Hence," he concluded, "my oft-felt suspicion is true. No matter where I want to go, it's uphill, not downhill, all the way."
Undaunted, Martenhoff pondered the problem some more and finally came up with what he suspects may turn out to be one of the great physical mysteries of all time. "If we are always going uphill," he argued, "maybe we are simply aiming in the wrong direction. Why can't we slide downhill stern first? Do you suppose we've had the pointy end of the boat at the wrong end all these centuries?"
I'LL PUT YOU ON HOLD
Mrs. Ruth Michalecki, a telephone switchboard operator at the University of Nebraska, handled about 1,000 calls before, during and after the Nebraska-Oklahoma game on Thanksgiving Day. These are the ones she remembers best:
One man said, "I want to register a complaint against Bud Wilkinson. He called Nebraska a bunch of opportunists, and I resent such name-calling."
Another man said he wanted to talk to Oklahoma Coach Chuck Fairbanks on the hot line. Told there was no hot line, he said, yes, there was. He was watching on TV and he could see Fairbanks wearing a telephone headset.
A Nebraskan in Atlanta asked if he could listen to the radio broadcast of the game via long distance. He said he liked watching the game on TV but wanted to hear a good old Nebraska boy broadcasting it. Mrs. Michalecki tuned in a radio, put a phone near it and the man listened to most of the second half.
An Oklahoma fan said he had a message for Coach Fairbanks that would win the game. Told it was not possible to reach Fairbanks, he grew angry and said he would hire a helicopter and drop the note to the coach himself.
A man from Oklahoma City said he wanted to tell something to whoever was in charge of the officials. If his message could be delivered, he added, he wanted it done with a ball bat.
A Nebraska fan said urgently that Nebraska Coach Bob Devaney should be told that one of the Oklahoma guards was giving away the plays by the way he moved his foot. He had spotted this on television, the fan said.
Finally, there was a call from a man who said he had given his tickets to other members of his family and had promised to babysit with his grandchildren. He had gone outside for a moment and was now locked out. The grandchildren were inside and couldn't get out. He was outside and couldn't get in. What should he do?
Mrs. Michalecki noted that her job had become much more lively during Devaney's 11 winning seasons. "Before he came," she said, "about the only calls I had were to have the coach fired."
The developers who planned to build an auto raceway on a former dairy farm in Washington County, Md. (SCORECARD, Oct. 9) are idling their motors and may turn them off. Opposition from local environmentalists was vociferous after the mayor of Hagerstown, Md. sold his family's dairy farm to the developers for $750,000. Lem E. Kirk, chairman of the Washington County commissioners, who favored the raceway, said, "The opposition was pretty great, so the developers are reluctant about coming in. If you're not wanted, you'll go elsewhere. They have offers from other counties where they will have less opposition." If the proposal is black-flagged, the would-be racetrack may revert to its former status; a group of Baltimoreans want to buy it for use as a kosher dairy farm.
THEY SAID IT
•Josh Ashton, New England Patriot running back, on the ferocity of play in a game with the Colts: "One guy took my helmet and yanked it clear across my face. It wasn't accidental. It was Mike Curtis."
•Jack Ramsay, Buffalo Braves coach, when it was suggested his woeful NBA team might be on the same timetable as the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had a 15-67 record two years ago: "We'll jump off that bridge when we come to it."
•The Rev. Graham Spurrier, father of San Francisco's Steve Spurrier, after the 49ers beat Dallas: "Get down on your knees and pray, son. I watched it on TV and some of the good things that happened to you on that football field were not entirely your doing."
•Greg Pruitt, Oklahoma star, after his teammates had beaten Nebraska while he was on the bench with a bad ankle: "It hurts, knowing that they can do without you. I was always led to believe that I was indispensable."