"Where'd you disappear to?" somebody asked, and Balz explained that the plane was simply exhausted—"It couldn't have raced another half mile"—and that he had dumped it, "downwind and dirty," on the first runway he saw after the checkered flag. He didn't seem surprised to learn that his speed, 416.160 mph, was a new national Unlimited championship record or that Laidley himself had turned a near-record 413.175 (but was later disqualified for his low ride, giving second place to Lyle Shelton and third to Howie Keefe).
Still wearing his wottle hat, the winner and world-class worrier climbed out on a wing of his P-51 and slid to the ground. A woman ran up and said, "Hey, Mr. Balz, I bet on you. Here, you can have my winnings." She handed over 30 cents, bringing Balz' total purse to $12,500.30.
Off to one side, Dr. Dick Laidley was catching his breath in the shadow of Conquest I, his salt-and-pepper hair wringing wet from cockpit heat and total effort. Balz strode over and asked, "What happened?"
"Nothing," Laidley said, smiling wanly.
"Come on," Balz said. "What happened?"
"Nothing happened," Laidley repeated firmly. "You went faster, that's all."
Balz turned away, signed more autographs, shook more hands, exchanged expertise with a few of his competitors and headed back to his camper half a mile down the ramp. En route, he suddenly realized he had forgotten his traditional post-race ritual. He had not found time to be scared.