Off in a onetime military air base near Reno, the Lear Jet people are cutting metal for a new 450-horsepower Indy race car. It will have 40% front-and 60% rear-wheel drive, says Inventor-Industrialist William Lear, and will corner like crazy. "We not only expect to be in the race," he says, "we expect to be the winner." Is Lear going to a tiny turbine? No. Ah, perhaps an electric car? Uh-uh. The new car will use white kerosene, he said. It will have a boiler sitting there beside the driver, and it will run on...steam.
And, as if that were not enough to upset traditionalists, Andy Granatelli, who introduced turbocars to Indy, says that he, too, is thinking about a steam car—this time a steam-turbine car. He has assured everyone that "we have the know-how to do it." All the 500 needs now is a car with a whistle on it, like a locomotive.
These moves catch USAC with its old-guard down; they have plenty of rules to govern oldtime piston engines, but things are pretty vague on steam. The board meets Jan. 11 to consider this one and, if it accepts the new cars, you can bet that Memorial Day 1969 will be another wild one. What USAC is just starting to realize is that, even now, someone somewhere has a race car all built and is standing there, looking speculatively at an atomic reactor.
BY THE NUMBERS
The National and American Football Leagues are going to ask a computer why so many of their boys keep getting hurt. Every detail, except one, on every major and minor injury this year from preseason games to the Super Bowl will be fed this January into the computers at the University of Michigan.
The information is coming in now on questionnaires filled out by trainers and team physicians. Each report lists the manner of contact on which the player was hurt. (Was it a clip, a crackback block, a pileup? Was he gang-tackled? Was he speared? Was there a rules infraction?) Other data include the player's experience, his team status, whether the injury is new, the temperature, condition and type of playing surface and the exact nature of the equipment worn by the victim and the man who hit him.
The one missing detail will be the victim's name.
No pro owner wants the others to know the exact location and nature of an injury to any of his properties, so social security numbers are used instead. It is all the same to the computer.
THE GOLF CRUNCH
The first head-to-head tournament battle between the Professional Golfers' Association and the new American Professional Golfers—the rebellious touring pros—will take place Jan. 9-12. The $100,000 Los Angeles Open has gone APG. The new $50,000 Alameda County Open, at the Sunol Valley Golf Course about 40 miles from San Francisco, has just signed a contract with the PGA.