BAYI VS. WALKER?
In these days when sports and politics are so unfortunately entangled, there is once again an ominous cloud developing—this time threatening what is anticipated as the showcase event of the Montreal Olympics, the 1,500-meter run featuring Tanzania's Filbert Bayi and New Zealand's John Walker. Bayi holds the world record for the event; Walker, the world mark for the slightly longer mile. Their speed is judged approximately even by the experts.
Again, the dispute is over racial policies. The Supreme Council of Sport in Africa has instructed its member nations, which include Tanzania, not to compete against New Zealand if New Zealand goes ahead with plans to send its rugby team to play South Africa in June. White-ruled South Africa long has been under fire for apartheid and has had numerous confrontations with countries opposed to the policy. This particular dispute dates to New Zealand's refusal to withdraw an invitation to South Africa to compete in the world softball championship several months ago. Which in turn so incensed Tanzania that Bayi was not allowed to go ahead with his plans to run in New Zealand against Walker.
There is no predicting, of course, what will happen in the two remaining months before the Olympics. Maybe black Africa will change its stand. Maybe New Zealand will. Or maybe right-thinking people on both sides can forge an agreement for two compelling reasons: millions of track enthusiasts around the world are thirsting for the race, and Bayi and Walker, friends and sportsmen, are extraordinarily anxious to make it.
Last week, at the Spanish Grand Prix, interest was focused not on the Ferrari 12s, the McLaren or the Lotus V-8s, but on the Tyrrell 6. In the Tyrrell's case, that meant six wheels, not cylinders.
Six-wheelers have raced before (one finished 12th in the 1948 Indy 500, and Mercedes-Benz entered one in European hill climbs during the late 30s) but the extra wheels were used to drive, not steer, the car. Not so with the new Tyrrell. In order to cut down aerodynamic drag by reducing frontal area, Designer Derek Gardner doubled the number of front wheels and reduced their size (they're 10 inches in diameter vs. the normal 13-inch wheel used in Formula I). Handling has not been sacrificed, because the same or even greater tire contact is made with the road. There also are extra brakes.
In its first competitive outing, Patrick Depailler qualified the car—which looks like a "What's wrong with this picture?" puzzle—third fastest, .6 second behind James Hunt's pole-winning McLaren. In the race, the Tyrrell—whoops—skidded off the track and failed to finish.
While the United States won't complete the switch to the metric system for some years, it may be much too soon for the city of Denver, where the NFL Broncos play their games in Mile High Stadium.