And if that weren't enough, Guthrie's car was markedly inferior. It spent a large part of the week in the garage; when her crew finally got it running smoothly, rain fell and shortened practice. By Saturday, she had completed only half of the rookie test. She would have to wait until this week to try to pass the 100-mile test and until the weekend to qualify.
Another driver who would have to wait a while to qualify was Andretti, who spent last weekend in Belgium at a Formula I race. In April, the Vel's Parnelli Jones team abandoned its Formula I effort because it had no sponsor. Andretti was then free to drive for Vel's at Indy, which he hadn't planned to do because the Grand Prix of Monaco would be the same day. But Andretti was sore; winning a world championship is his burning ambition. "If they can't support my pet project, I don't want to be involved with them," he said. So Vel's and Andretti scratched their contract. Andretti then signed to drive Formula I for Lotus—but not at Monaco. Instead, he would compete at Indy in one of Roger Penske's McLarens.
"We could have legally held Mario to the contract so he would have either had to drive for us at Indy or not at all," said Miletich, "but we don't work that way. We're really better off with one driver here anyhow. Mario's a heck of a driver, but he could break an anvil with a rubber hammer."
Both Miletich and Andretti showed enough class to stop short of name-calling, which kept the split only sticky, not messy, but early in the week, while Andretti was at the Speedway, there seemed to be a growing communication problem.
"I've got a clear conscience. They didn't pay me anything for the release," said Andretti.
"Mario is getting his full salary of $150,000 this year from us," said Miletich. "He does not have a clear conscience."
If either party was bearing a burden of guilt, it didn't show. Vel's was happy with the Cosworth—which hadn't missed a beat—with Unser and with American Racing Wheels, its new sponsor for USAC races. And Andretti could hardly be restrained from jumping in the air and clicking his heels. Maybe it was because his McLaren was running so well in practice, but then maybe it was because of his shoes. Andretti knows this little old cobbler in Italy named Signore Ciccio who has been making racing shoes since...well, he made them for Tazio Nuvolari. Andretti's footwear looked like boxing shoes wrapped in aluminum foil. At first squint he became the envy of Rutherford, for one. The popular Texan, known as Gentleman John, stopped dead in his tracks and gave Andretti a tracing of those stopped tracks to send air mail to Ciccio so Rutherford could also have a pair of nifty racing shoes.
Rutherford figured that a pole sitter should look flashy. And, just in case, those Tin Man shoes might look right nice in Victory Circle.