GRAND PRIX SQUEEZE
The costs of motor sports are zooming about as fast as the cars, and are even running right over a few promoters. The latest casualty is the Canadian Grand Prix, which lost its scheduled Sept. 21 race when it was unable to work out money differences with the Formula One Constructors and Entrants Association, the folks who bring you all the cars and drivers. Now there is fear that the disappearance of the Canadian race could set off a reaction that statesmen used to call the domino effect.
Crux of the dispute is the constructors' demand that all the Grand Prix promoters boost purses each year for the next three years, with each race adding a total of $250,000 by 1977. Canada resisted, balking especially at an extra assessment to be shared with the U.S. Grand Prix, which follows the Canadian race and wraps up the season. When Canada hesitated, the association pulled out, thereby canceling the race, perhaps as a warning to other promoters who might have rebellious ideas. This, of course, piles a bigger cost burden on the U.S. Grand Prix, which traditionally split with Canada the expense of flying the men and machines to North America.
Sponsors of the U.S. race don't want to abandon their prestigious event, but at the same time they can barely afford to put it on. Now that Canada is out, the Oct. 5 race at Watkins Glen, N.Y. will be the only Formula I event in North America this season. The Glen race, however expensive, is firm for this year, but a long winter of negotiations will follow, involving racing circuits all over the world. And when the racers fire up again in 1976, one can expect more cancellations from hard-pressed tracks. Budget battles are breaking up the old familiar Grand Prix lineup.
After the University of Alabama filed suit against the NCAA (SCORECARD, Sept. 1), various coaches and members of the press were wondering what effect the action might have on Paul Bryant and his Alabama football team. Charlie McClendon, football coach at LSU, said, "It's been my observation that schools which sue the NCAA usually end up on probation."
"That's what Ole Bear wants," said a cynical sportswriter. "If he's suspended, he won't have to go to any more bowl games." In the past eight years Bryant and his Crimson Tide have had no wins, one tie and seven defeats in postseason games.
IT BOMBED IN MIAMI
Jumping on the old bandwagon, a group called Metro Sports, Ltd. staged a superstars competition in Miami Beach. Called American Supersports, it featured an impressive array of headline athletes, active and retired—among them Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Rick Barry, Ben Jipcho, Dave Wottle, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and Bob Seagren—who went at each other in a series of events scheduled over five days. There was no TV, but the promoters expected big things at the gate, particularly since the competition was divided into shows, with tickets sold separately for each show.
Instead, it was an absolute bust. After 3� days, total attendance was barely 3,000, and when only 400 people drifted into the Convention Center to see a Saturday afternoon show, Metro Sports gave up and canceled the final day and a half of competition.