BRICKS AND THE BRICKYARD
Picking a winner in the 500 is like shooting at a flock of fast-moving ducks. I guess you fellows just picked the right duck.
Congratulations on your forecast, and thank you for the sparkling Bob Ottum story on A.J. Foyt (Driver in a Tight Corner, June 1).
How do you do it? You were the only national magazine to give Cassius Clay even half a chance of beating Sonny Liston. You picked Northern Dancer to win the Kentucky Derby. And, last but not least, you put A. J. Foyt on your cover for Indianapolis. After watching Clay pummel Liston, Northern Dancer take the roses and Foyt coast to victory at the 500, I could no longer withhold my praise. Congratulations on a fine job!
Now that A. J. Foyt has won the infamous Indy 500 (at the cost of two other racers' lives) and proved the Offy roadsters still hold the edge over rear-engined cars (The Magnificent and the Macabre, June 8), let's stop this macabre showing of foolish speed that kills!
FRED E. LANGLEY
Auto racing is a dangerous profession. Drivers like Eddie Sachs and Dave Mac-Donald who enter it voluntarily know and accept this. I cannot speak for MacDonald, but I know Sachs loved racing and the 500, and he would have been the last one to want the tragedy of his and MacDonald's deaths in the 500 to be used as a weapon to hurt the sport.
As races go, the 500 is remarkably safe. There had not been a death in the race for five years preceding this year's tragedy. Even this year there were only the breakdowns of the Clark and Jones cars to mar it further, and there was not a single driver failure in the 198 laps following the fatal accident.
In the last five years of safe 500s the crowds have steadily risen, not fallen. It is not death that draws interest, but the performance of brave and skilled men in magnificently prepared machines in the face of danger. The loss of Sachs and MacDonald is a great one. But the 500 is a great race, and we would not want to lose it or the new theater-TV exposure of it. Sachs and MacDonald would not have wanted it. Remember, both drove in races in which men were killed, yet they continued in the sport they loved.
Do not let the doomsayers and sob sisters spoil their memory. Let us regret their loss, but be proud of them.
I would like to thank you for the recent coverage you gave me and the sport of marathon racing following my victory at Yonkers, N.Y. (Straight Man in a Twisty Race, June 1).
For the past four years, while running abroad, I've done my very best to be a good ambassador for my country and have always tried to maintain the very best relations with the Amateur Athletic Union. The single quotation you used concerning me and the AAU would give the impression there was some animosity between myself and that organization. Actually, my association with the AAU—prior to leaving the U.S. in 1960, again last summer on tour in Russia and yet again at Yonkers a week ago—has been excellent.