When the rains came, as predicted, the crazies, the flashers and the streakers took over. As usual, the Indy management failed to handle the situation and let the Turn Oners do their thing, virtually uninterrupted, for more than two hours. Even after the spate of showers ended and the track turned bone-dry, the officials held back the qualifying, contributing to the overall mood of restlessness. Had Tony Hulman ordered his tow trucks out onto the track—and turned loose a race car or two—or had Announcer Tom Carnegie firmly requested the streakers to get dressed, nice seeing ya, the delay might have been reduced by half. As it was, only five cars got out to qualify after the Rain Streak ended and another rainstorm started.
Best of that lot was rookie Tom Sneva, who made the second row with an average of 185.149 mph. Sneva, a 25-year-old junior high school principal from Sprague, Wash., is a quick study—and a good long-shot bet for the May 26 race.
When the day's running was over, average speed for the 15 qualifiers figured out to 184.252 mph, with 180.605 on the low side, setting up a situation for the second capsulized weekend that could produce a flurry of bumping for position.
Of the 11 drivers who still have a shot at the pole, the smart money has to ride with Gordon Johncock, last year's winner, in the second-fastest of the Bignotti cars. Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford both burned their engines during Saturday's prequalification practice and are thus ineligible to take a shot at Foyt—neither car was ready on the pit road at 11 a.m.—but Gordie was there and Gordie can go. The little man from Michigan, lately of Phoenix, is nothing if not a charger.
Meanwhile, Foyt will sweat, and the streakers—bless 'em all—really should recruit a few more girls.