Elliott, fresh enough to do it again, praised the track, the audience, the atmosphere and the help from "Merv and Ron." Looking at Elliott with mock despair, Delany cracked: "I think I'll take Merv up on his offer to play him at tennis."
Half an hour later, back in the dressing rooms, Thomas was still jumping up and down whooping for joy, chanting "three fifty-eight six"—his time. "Oh, I've fallen in love with this track. First a three-mile record and now the four-minute barrier. Whee. Wonderful."
Next night Thomas wanted to take the track home with him to Australia. That was the night he broke the world two-mile record of 8:33.4 belonging to Hungarian Sandor Iharos by 1.4 seconds, and in the four-mile race Murray Halberg clipped over 12 seconds off the best-ever 18:35.3 returned by Gordon Pirie at Perry Barr. The same night, the competitors in the other events smashed just about all the Irish allcomers' records which had not already been toppled on the new Santry track.
RECORDS IN ANY CASE
The job of building the record-breaking track was given to En-Tout-Cas Company, Ltd., of Leicester, England which built the Melbourne, Cardiff, London's White City and Wembley tracks. Its orders were to build a replica of the Melbourne track on which Ronnie Delany brought fame to Irish athletics, but it produced a foot-deep track which is probably better than a replica. When the site had been excavated, nine inches of cinders, obtained from Dublin's famous Guinness Breweries, were laid down, and on top of that 300 tons of a special combination ("three inches of top secret," mysteriously claims the English company) of clays, some burned, and small quantities of shale and sand. The clay gives the track its reddish hue.
"But the Irish weather," Morton added, "gives the track an extra something. Other countries have to water their tracks. We don't." Dublin's May, June and July were the wettest ever recorded (17� inches). "The subsoil is very hard. The foreman on the building of the terracing said to me, 'Billy, you could put a 60-story building up here without a foundation.' The water doesn't get away quickly. The drainage is bad and we're beginning to realize that's a good thing for the track.
"The beauty of the track," went on Morton, who can talk for hours about it, "is that your spikes go down and come out clean. You could run on it for a month and it would need no attention at all. When we held the military tattoo [a money-raising idea of Billy's which was sunk by the weather] we were flooded out of the place with rain. We seemed to have fifty thousand army men on motor bicycles charging up and down the track. The officer in charge said to me the other night, 'We did a great job in consolidating the track for you.' Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, although we did not think so at the time. Now the track is well settled anyway."
Leveling the arena and laying the track cost �8,500. "And we still owe �2,500 of that," rapped the optician. "And we owe the company which put up our concrete terracing �8,500. If we had had a normally fair summer I think we would have been able to pay it all off, but now we'll need an American millionaire to rescue us...I'm serious about needing an American millionaire, since we've got no rich Irishmen interested in us. Tell you what I'll do, and I'm serious. For $60,000—it will have to be 60,000—I will name the stadium after him." The way Billy said that, it sounded the most fabulous bargain ever.