More than 350,000 other folks entered the Valvoline Big Race Sweepstakes, yet it's impossible to imagine that any of them would have been a more appropriate winner than Brian Murphy of Pangburn, Ark. Thanks to a random drawing on Sept. 2, Murphy, a 28-year-old data processor for Wal-Mart, is now the proud owner of the Roush Racing Ford Thunderbird driven in four NASCAR Winston Cup events in 1995 and '96 by Mark Martin. Not a model, not a replica; it's the actual 750-horsepower, 200-mph machine.
"A lot of folks might have opted for the cash value [$100,000] instead," says Valvoline spokesman Andy Woods. Not Murphy. "This is better than Publisher's Clearing House," he said last Friday, the day before heading to Talladega Speedway to claim his prize at the Sears Diehard 500. Pangburn (pop. 673) is just 26 miles south of Martin's hometown of Batesville, and Murphy has been a big Martin booster for as long as he can remember. "I'm in his fan club, and as soon as I heard about the contest, I sent in 100 postcard entries," he says. "I never dreamed I'd win the thing."
What does Murphy plan to do with the car—which, because it's not street-legal, must be transported by truck—when it arrives in Pangburn next week? "I'm just going to park it in the garage," says Murphy. "Of course, my neighbor is the sheriff. I'm hoping he'll look the other way now and then, so I can take it out for a spin."
Just four weeks before he was to face Mexican countryman Miguel Angel González for the vacant WBC super lightweight championship, Julio César Chávez put the Oct. 25 bout on hold because he was suffering from an inflamed left elbow. Chávez, 35, needs surgery, but it seems that the six-time world champ, a veteran of 102 pro fights and one of the most ferocious ring warriors ever, is, well, a little squeamish about needles and scalpels. After undergoing exams at clinics in Mexico and the U.S., he bolted from a Mexico City operating room on Sept. 27 minutes before surgery. "When he saw the anesthetic and the doctor, Julio got frightened," says Chávez's lawyer, Salvador Ochoa. "This is traumatic for him."
According to Ochoa, Chávez should finally go under the knife in California later this week. That means the bout with González is unlikely to take place until January. González has accused Chávez of ducking him, but at least one of Chávez's peers is sympathetic. Says WBC strawweight champion Ricardo López, "I'd rather they punch the living daylights out of me than operate on me."
HARTFORD, CONN., October 12, 1997
As the ABL's second season began, fans and players were invested in the league
After the employee-owners of the New England Blizzard defeated the employee-owners of the Atlanta Glory 86-66, the Blizzard players pelted the raucous American Basketball League-record crowd of 12,623 with plastic "victory balls." You in the cheap seats: Duck! The Blizzard might not have scored in the 90s, but its players can throw in them.