DEATH AT SEBRING
I must deplore the "blood and guts" aspects of your Sebring article (SI, April 4), in which you ran several pictures of accidents and material detrimental to the sport of racing as a whole.
Sebring, in its 10 years, has had only one fatal accident during a race (Bob Goldich in 1957), which is quite a record, especially so when one considers that this constitutes over 50,000 driver-hours in fierce, grueling and enthusiastic competition, much of which is conducted at night.
This year's two fatalities are the sole responsibility, as I understand, of the photographer, Thompson, who was on the dangerous, "off limits" escape road when the accident occurred. He had been asked to leave that area by an official but had declined to do so. Had he not been where he was not supposed to be, he would not have been killed when the Lotus was forced to take the escape road, nor would the driver, Hughes, have been killed when he overturned his car by swerving, unfortunately in vain, to avoid the photographer.
New York City
?No one can say whether Tampa Tribune Photographer George Thompson contributed to the accident. The escape route at which Thompson stationed himself was almost a direct extension of the straightaway which led into the sharp switchback curve. Witnesses to the accident report that James Hughes's car was already in a wild spin when it struck Thompson, although Hughes apparently made an attempt to swerve his car at the last second. It is not possible to define at what infinitesimal point Hughes lost complete control. Let it be said, though, that Photographer George Thompson loved racing. On his last day he persuaded a colleague to take over an earlier assignment to cover a golf tournament so that he might attend the Sebring race instead. Police do not ask photographers to leave dangerous positions but rather warn them that they "have been issued a license up there at the press hut to commit suicide if they want to." Thompson was warned twice of the dangerous position he had taken.—ED.
CONSERVATION: THE ECOLOGY OF MAN
It has been a long time since I have read such a forceful article on conservation as Henry Romney's (A New and Human Science, SI, March 28, April 4).
Those of us who attend the many annual conventions of conservation groups have had drummed into our ears, by those in the fraternity and outsiders, such wrist-slappers as these: "You wildlife people only preach to the saved," and, "You biologists spend too much time discussing the ecology and management of wildlife and pay too little attention to man." I think we all recognize that this criticism has some justification. We need more disciples like Henry Romney.
I am glad to see your efforts to tell Americans not to destroy what they seek outdoors but to save some of wild or not-so-wild America. This is one point we are trying to get across, not only in our regular work but in our statements to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, the Senate Select Committee on National Water Resources and a host of other special agencies which are worried about what is happening and will happen to our national resources.
Department of the Interior
I am not a starry-eyed idealist who has any hopes of saving every mouse and rose, nor am I an active conservationist who assails every town hall meeting with requests for more open areas. Nevertheless, your articles proved interesting because they placed conservation not on the plane of an unimportant minority movement but on the level of a problem of national importance.
I have, perhaps, been deluded into thinking that only those who are the inhabitants of the more densely populated zones should concern themselves with the ideas of conservation. Your articles placed it on a different status.
The thing which impressed me most was not the articles themselves but the fact that the articles were in a sports magazine!