You will find on page 18 Basketball Star Bill Russell's personalized account of the hush-hush meeting in Cleveland between the country's top Negro athletes and Muhammad Ali. We share with Russell a respect for Ali's sincerity in his religion—which we have never had reason to doubt—and his refusal on religious grounds to serve in the Army. But some of the views propounded by Russell are, to say the least, highly debatable. Russell certainly should know that there is a difference between being a Catholic or Protestant or Muslim—the faith practiced by 300 million people throughout the world—and being a member of the Black Muslim movement in the U.S., which has often been associated with violence and thuggery and is identified with the very intolerance that Russell decries. It is Ali's unfortunate association with this racist group, not his refusal to serve in the Army because of sincere religious convictions, that has victimized him.
EQUALITY AND FRATERNITY
"We don't want to ban the turbine car," the president of the United States Auto Club said last week. "We just want to make it competitive, to have apples against apples and not apples with oranges." The fate of Andy Granatelli's swooshmobile, which outclassed the field of piston cars at Indy and would have won the 500 easily had it not broken down four laps from the finish, is to be decided later this month. The USAC Rules Committee, which sanctioned the controversial car for this year's race, has already voted in secret session to call in the major builders of turbines, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric, and ask them to fashion a formula to equalize turbines with piston engines.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of car owners, mechanics and race officials in the Speedway cafeteria, Andy Granatelli was bitterly defending his car. "I'm willing to take a weight penalty of several hundred pounds on it," he said, "but leave my engine alone.
"You know I can afford to buy all the Lotuses there are. But it hasn't been easy, not being a copycat. All of a sudden I'm an outcast here because of progress. This year friends of mine for 20 years wouldn't even speak to me. My car was built within the rules of USAC. It was called a milk wagon by some, but if you want to enter a milk truck and it's within the rules, why not?"
Parnelli Jones, the turbocar's driver, also had his say. "I've had greater edges driving conventional racers," he argued. "I had a much greater edge in 1962 when I lapped Rodger Ward, the eventual winner, before breaking down. The turbo-car is a completely advanced automobile. Accept that. The aircraft people accepted the fact that the jet engine completely outclassed the piston engine. They are talking of handicapping the turbocar to the point where it couldn't be competitive. Laymen must understand it has great pickup speed coming out of the turns, but its overall straightaway speed at Indianapolis wasn't exceptional. Some piston engines outran it down the straightaways."
No matter what USAC eventually decides, its ruling is bound to be unpopular. If it limits or bans the turbocar, the public, which became so interested in it at Indy, and those who believe in automotive progress will be disappointed. If USAC allows turbines to race, piston-car owners who have supported the 500 for years will have no alternative but to junk $9 million worth of equipment. Many may not feel like starting all over again in racing.
Until the day of Indy—too late—USAC officials did not realize the dilemma that was theirs.
We have received a postcard in the mail informing us of the Hudson River Fishermen's Association Bag-A-Polluter program. We pass along the information to you for what it is worth—which might be considerable. The association has found an 1888 federal law, still in effect, that forbids the "discharging, or depositing, by any process or in any manner, of refuse, dirt, ashes, cinders, mud, sand, dredgings, sludge, acid, or any other matter of any kind...in the tidal waters of the harbor of New York...or in those of Long Island Sound." If convicted the polluter is liable to a jail sentence and/or a fine not less than $250 nor more than $2,500. Now comes the interesting part: "one half of said fine to be paid to the person or persons giving information which shall lead to conviction."