VIEW FROM THE STANDS
Bob Ottum is right. Indy must mend its rules (A Crazy, Mixed-up 500, June 6). The starting rows should be two abreast, and the starting field itself should be cut.
With two machines alongside each other, there would be more room when everyone goes gung-ho into the first turn, and with fewer cars traveling at nearly equal speeds, the race would be competitive.
I'm not against the race per se. If 30 or so men want to get together and see who can be the first to prove it's impossible to negotiate a curve at 170 mph, it's O.K. with me. But it does seem a little pointless, since the guys who discover this fact are carried off the track with a sheet over their faces and never get a chance to pass on this valuable information to the rest of the field.
The competition is unrealistic at the Indianapolis 500. Half the field is made up of fine sportsmen and excellent race drivers who are very large on common sense, and the other half are a bunch of fender-slappers. I am not vastly buoyed to know that some guy can step off the stock circuit and get behind the wheel of a machine that can go 200 mph and no one stops to ask how many frames he has sprung in the last three years. And what's worse, no one seems to care. Certainly not the fellow who pays good money to lean over the infield rail and stand the deathwatch. He and the guy who kicks in stained-glass windows, I'm convinced, are one and the same.
Yes, Indy must mend its rules, and it should begin by not selling tickets to this weird pagan performance.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
It was a long race—and definitely showed the need for more precautions to insure the safety of its participants. For one thing, you can never realize how sadistic and hellish some people are until you see them carelessly, and in some cases deliberately, littering the track with papers and plastic bags and throwing beer bottles over the heads of the crowd to the foot of the fence. I know; I was hit on the back of my head by one. All of these things, plus a few more, add to the sometimes perilous conditions these drivers have to endure. I, for one, wonder what these spectators' homes look like. Is this just a release of stupid energy?
Your LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER in the May 30 issue was definitely the finest article I have ever read concerning the sport of automobile racing and the Indianapolis 500 in particular. It is too bad, but it seems as though the only time much of the public ever hears about a race is when there is a tragedy involved. I am an avid racing fan, and it is heartwarming indeed to see the stand SI takes on this issue.
PVT. RAYMOND E. FAULKNER, USA
U.S. Armed Forces, Germany
Janet Graham's article, Rule of Thumb for the Open Road (June 6), brings back fond memories of my "thumbing" tour of Europe in 1960. Never have I read such a concise yet correct description of the travelers with whom I associated for seven months. I personally used a number of the techniques described by Miss Graham and feel certain I observed most of the others.
For most of us who have used the auto slop mode of transportation, it has been more than an inexpensive means of travel. It is an opportunity to learn history, language, geography, foreign culture and customs—an education in itself. My advice to those who have never thumbed is try it, it's great!
San Carlos, Calif.
As a college senior who has hitchhiked all over the United States, and who loves the adventure of the sport, I found Janet Graham's article great fun to read. Miss Graham mentioned several hitching feats in her article, one being an 873-mile trip in Britain covered in 39 hours. A friend of mine and I once left Springfield, Ohio—half an hour after putting his girl friend on a bus headed for her home in Sarasota, Fla. We hitched the 1,200 miles in 33 hours and arrived at the girl's house just as the bus was letting her off.