RETURN OF THE RACERS
Everyone remembers the last episode in the adventures of Ford Motor Co. and its Racer Boys Abroad. The villainous International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced it was planning new engine-size rules, which would legislate Ford's winning cars out of Le Mans and other noted world endurance runs. Ford protested—a bit too mildly, everyone thought—then vanished without a trace. Well, the Ford boys are back in the U.S. and ready to roar.
A hint of the Ford future came last week when the company announced with a routine yawn that it had signed driving champion Mario Andretti to pilot a factory car in the six-event Canadian-American Challenge Cup series.
The key word in that sentence is factory, and the Can-Am people had best be ready for a wild season.
Ford is building two all-new sports cars for this series, with giant experimental engines called calliopes, described by a Ford public-relations man as "fantastic brutes." In addition, such familiar motoring figures as Holman and Moody, Carroll Shelby and Dan Gurney will roll out six other new cars that will show Ford's unofficial factory touch. All eight cars represent what Ford calls "a shift in emphasis in racing" from Europe back to the United States.
The new cars, still unnamed, will be high-fendered, open two-seaters, 30.7 inches high and capable of doing a smooth 200 mph on straightaways, faster than anything in this division so far.
For impartial racing fans, the stirring thing about this is that Ford, for all of its size, will not steamroller the opposition. It is well known that two fierce new Chaparrals are in the works; last year's Can-Am winner John Surtees and challengers Roger Penske and Mark Donohue have new Lola-Chevrolets ready; a pair of Matick-Repco racers will come from Australia; and the hottest rumor has it that Italy's Enzo Ferrari is preparing two superlight P4s for the battle.
No matter who wins, it is good to have Ford concentrating on U.S. racing once again.
In preparation for next summer's Olympics, Mexico City has announced a cleanup campaign, and Mayor Alfonso Corona del Rosal is starting with the city's infamous cab drivers. All 18,000 of them are attending classes in courtesy, traffic and personal hygiene. They are being advised to take daily baths ("it is good for the body and the spirit," the instructors explain), to cool their voluble passion for comely pedestrians and to restrict their use of profanity to something mortal ears can bear. They also will be issued new uniforms. An old city regulation requires drivers to wear uniforms, but they rarely do, because it hinders their escape if they are involved in a traffic accident.