Niki Lauda, the race driver, was given the Victoria Sporting Club's International Award for Valour in Sport at London's Guildhall recently, and in accepting the award Lauda made some perceptive observations about bravery in driving.
"There are two elements that make up valor," he said. "One is skill, expertness. The other is dashing personal courage. Of course, the dashing personal courage is more spectacular. It may be that the award has been given to me chiefly because of the impression I gave of flaunting such gallantry. If so, I am afraid it is based on a misunderstanding.
"In my career, skill and practice have always outweighed personal courage by far. Practice makes perfect. Perfection permits you to push the limits of your performance beyond the point at which others either pull out or skirt disaster. As long as you don't exceed the limits, you are normally safe. Driving in safety does not call for outstanding courage."
BIG DAY IN BAGHDAD
On a slow news day in San Francisco last week, our man on the spot, Ron Fimrite, was searching the streets for a story when he stumbled upon the First International Penny Pitching Contest on the sidewalk outside the Washington Square Bar & Grill. Among the participants were Chub Feeney, president of the National League; Conni Venturi, former wife of golfer Ken Venturi; Steven Weed, former friend of Patty Hearst; Joan Hitchcock, former friend of John F. Kennedy (she is writing a book about it); and Cedrick Hardman, the 49ers' former All-Pro defensive end.
The winner was not a former anything. He was vice squad cop Chris Sullivan, who took his $ 100 prize across the square to a bar called Powell's and spent it all there because the Washington Square B. & G. was too crowded.
Later the same slow day SI's legman legged it across a couple of hills to the Temple Bar on Tillman Place where a liar's-dice tournament was under way. Liar's dice is a bar game, popular in San Francisco, that requires a modicum of skill, unlike its nearest rival, boss dice, which requires no skill at all, just a lot of loud banging of leather dice cups on mahogany.
Embarrassingly enough, the tournament was won by Bob Lee, the back-up quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings and part owner of the sponsoring Temple Bar. Lee says he had never played the game before, which possibly explains why he won.
BRAVE NEW WORLD CUP