A decision is
reached. The 512M will be employed to break the world unlimited six-hour mark
of 172.3 mph, set in 1940 by Ab Jenkins and Indy ace Cliff Bergere in the
Mormon Meteor. Graham Hill will drive the first leg, and he accelerates away,
the Ferrari screeching ominously as its rear tires fling up a faint roostertail
of salt. Hill completes four laps, then fails to appear.
A ragged platoon
of cars and trucks roars across the wastes in search of the lost car and
driver. Graham is found five miles away, standing beside the Ferrari, which has
deposited certain vital components of its engine and large clots of lubricant
on the salt. The six-hour record attempt has run about 13 minutes.
Bud Morgan, the
CBS unit producer and a tough, trenchant veteran of the cinema wars, eyes the
broken Ferrari being towed into the pits and smiles. "I knew we were in
trouble. Just as Hill started his run, the truck with the Porta-Johns rolled
in. You just can't fight that kind of symbolism."
The Daytona is
once again pressed into service. While not as potent as the 512M, it might be
fast enough to break several national Class C records as a final face-saving
gesture. This in fact is the case and Hill and Chinetti establish modest
improvements for 500 kilometers, 500 miles and 1,000 kilometers. But after
darkness grips the flats, the Daytona's battery fails. With Newman at the
wheel, it limps in for repairs, blind as a mole. Graham Hill takes another
crack at driving, but blows a tire. The ensuing time lost, coupled with the
other problems and the car's modest speed, prompt the NART general staff to
cancel the rest of the proceedings.
It is three
o'clock in the morning. Sharp spikes of artificial light illuminate the
exhausted mechanics and cameramen as they load their gear. Their bodies have
been baked in the day and frozen at night. There is no moon. Fantasies rise
from their exhaustion. Hallucinations twinkle in their brains. That sound out
there...that low moaning of an aircraft engine...that long, torpedo-shaped car
whisking through the shadows like a landborn Flying Dutchman. In the cockpit
that smiling man...can it possibly be ol' Ab? And perched on the hood of the
Mormon Meteor...it's, of course! The Angel Moroni!
You're right. He
doesn't look Italian.