PUTTING CART BEFORE THE SPORT
Few anti-Establishment uprisings have achieved more dramatic results than the one staged by the leading owners and drivers of Indianapolis-style cars. Unhappy with high costs and low purses, Dan Gurney, A. J. Foyt, Roger Penske and other luminaries last fall formed an organization called CART (an acronym for Championship Auto Racing Teams) and began pressuring the ruling United States Auto Club for reforms. USAC resisted at first, but then capitulated, introducing engine rule changes to reduce costs, offering owners a larger say in policymaking and promising to push for bigger purses. CART's founders could have returned to the fold claiming victory.
Instead, they are now bidding for outright control of the sport. On March 11. CART will launch its own tentative schedule of six events with a 150-mile race in Phoenix. USAC will begin its eight-race series with a 200-miler at Ontario, Calif. on March 25. Everybody choose sides, please; this is civil war.
The schism strains racing's already thin resources. Both CART and USAC will have trouble filling fields in their respective events. Uncertain about where the drivers will be, TV networks have been cutting back coverage. The only national deal is NBC's commitment to telecast a number of CART races. Meanwhile, USAC is having trouble renewing its network radio tieup. Sponsors are restive, too.
CART claims to have many of the big-name drivers, but its hopes for a quick knockout of USAC were probably dashed when founding father Foyt recently redefected to USAC. "CART's original goals have changed," Foyt explained. "The USAC board agreed to work with us. I didn't think the deal with CART was to conquer the world."
One of the few racing figures who have managed to stay more or less above the fray is Joe Cloutier, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Indy 500 remains a USAC event, but such is its prestige that the CART secessionists wouldn't dream of skipping it. Sounding a diplomatic note, Cloutier says of the CART-USAC split, "It's a thoroughly unfortunate circumstance. I'm not saying who is right and who is wrong. But it's too bad for racing."
WOODY GOES HOLLYWOOD
The night before Woody Hayes turned 66 on Valentine's Day, there was a party in his honor at Chasen's, a Hollywood restaurant popular with film folk. The bash was thrown by Koch-Kirkwood Productions, which wheeled out a huge birthday cake bedecked with fresh roses and announced to assembled reporters that it had acquired the movie and hardcover book rights to Woody's life story.
The men behind the deal, Howard Koch Jr. and Gene Kirkwood, are figures to be reckoned with in filmdom: Koch was an executive producer of Heaven Can Wait and Kirkwood held the same position on Rocky. They wouldn't disclose terms but said that the as-yet-untitled movie about Hayes would probably be released in 1981. "There is a lot more to this man than the small incidents that have been printed," Koch said. "We want to tell the whole story."
Hayes won't appear in the movie. "I'll work on the story and be a technical advisor on the football aspects," he said. "I'm no actor." Those mentioned as candidates to play Ohio State's defrocked coach include George C. Scott, Carroll O'Connor, Ernest Borgnine and Gene Hackman.