- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
You remember the story. How Athol Graham tried to break the world's land speed record three years ago and died in a crash on the Salt Flats at Bonneville? How his wife Zeldine scooped up the broken bits of his racing car and slowly stitched them together again? How Zeldine told young Otto Anzjon, her late husband's mechanic, that he would drive the mended racer to a new record?
Zeldine Graham knew this was not so, that Anzjon was dying of leukemia; but she played her role so well that Anzjon dreamed of setting a new record almost to the day he died. There the story might have ended, but Zeldine has not let it. Soon after Anzjon's death, she hired a new driver, Harry Muhlbach. Together, they showed up at last summer's Bonneville National Speed Trials. Muhlbach drove the rebuilt car through a series of pace runs and said it was ready.
On a dismal, overcast dawn two weeks ago, Muhlbach rolled the car out on the Flats, aimed it down the line and gunned the motor. How fast he was going when he crashed is unclear. Muhlbach thought it was about 395 mph, the U.S. Auto Club said it was more like 200 mph. In any event, the racer's brake parachute accidentally popped out and the car skidded sideways for more than a thousand feet, rolling over twice. Miraculously, Muhlbach was unhurt.
The crash ignited a storm of protest among racing people at Bonneville. The most pertinent words were spoken by Anthony Granatelli, a Studebaker test-driver: "Everybody who knows anything about racing realizes that Mrs. Graham's car isn't engineered for this run. It's frightening for us to know that thing is running out there."
But on the Flats, Zeldine Graham already was methodically collecting the jagged pieces of her broken racing car. "Oh, God," said Granatelli, "I hope she doesn't race that thing again."
Last week members of New York's Joint Legislative Committee on Sports and Physical Fitness listened with deep feeling to a report by school teachers and coaches whose athletic programs were hamstrung by lack of money. The report could not have fallen on more receptive ears—the Committee itself had prematurely run through a $30,000 operating budget, and a deputy state controller noted that the books listed debts of $4,000, assets of 77�.
Whither the 30,000 clams? Well, there was that physical fitness movie they had made; and there were all those investigative committee meetings. Now, in Manhattan, you don't investigate fitness just any old place, you go over to Toots Shor's restaurant and chew the sirloin fat—about $400 worth. Then, occasionally, you like to get out of town, see what other sports are talking about. Committeemen therefore batted off to Las Vegas (some $350 in odds and ends there like attendance at the Liston-Patterson fight), San Francisco ($150), even up to Saratoga Springs ($280). Altogether, some $4,000 has gone up in smoked salmon, lodging and travel in the last six months.
Unfortunately, the committee has yet to come up with much beyond this expense report. Its members do know, to be fair, that per pupil New York City school gymnasiums are 40 square feet undersized. And they do believe that when a slithery blonde named Ann Bitters recently demonstrated the salubrious effect of body rhythm in an Albany hearing room, she made a real contribution. So, though newspaper editorials were grumbling about its zesty modus vivendi, the committee was still hard at work last week. But with only 77� in the till, its members—who have asked for a new appropriation of $10,000—were having sit-ups and coffee for lunch.
TOO MUCH OF A BAD THING