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"Both slalom skiing and car racing put a high premium on reflexes and concentration," says Bob. "One of the key fundamentals of racing is learning to find the apex of a turn and then coming out of it with the highest acceleration possible while still under control. It's the same with slaloming."
Bob has had some excellent finishes and qualifying times in Sports Car Club of America races, but is still looking for his first victory. He doesn't expect to get it until he comes up with the $20,000 needed for a new car. Until then he'll have to be content with testing his nerve in a 4-year-old Formula Ford. Or on a 400-cc enduro motorcycle. He entered his first cycle race, the Alligator Enduro in Daytona, Fla., in March and finished a respectable 17th out of 80 in his class.
"Daytona was a killer," says Bob. "Three hours in 85� heat of nonstop bouncing and getting beat to death. Fortunately I had built up some endurance from skiing."
Kris, on the other hand, prefers a kind of racing in which a decision is reached in 12 seconds or so. On Sunday afternoons he heads for the dragstrip with a '56 Austin-Healy in tow. Actually, the car is a Healy in body only; Kris spent the better part of a year stuffing a race-prepared Chevrolet engine into the sports car's body. He has won a dozen or so of what are called bracket races, in which the driver must not only beat another car but also run the quarter mile in as close to a predesignated time as he can.
"I prefer bracket racing because there's about a 50-50 emphasis on the driver and the car," Kris says. "It stresses the consistency and the reactions of the driver rather than just how much money went into the car. In some types of racing the car is virtually everything—you can be a poor driver and still win."
Economics are also a major concern in the LaPoints' primary sport. Kris has won more money and more titles than any slalomer in history, yet his official earnings over a 10-year career come to slightly more than $10,000. Bob, who won virtually everything there was to win last year, made $1,000 slaloming in 1979.
These are pretty skimpy rewards, even for a sport as small as water skiing. Trouble is, all the prestige events—namely the Masters, nationals and world championships—offer zilch in the way of prize money, and that's just how the American Water Ski Association, the sport's governing body, wants to keep things.
Partly because of that policy, the LaPoints have boycotted the Masters the past two years. "They charge admission and take in TV revenues, but the skiers get next to nothing," says Bob. "In 1967, Kris' first year there, he got $40 for hotel expenses and $150 for travel. In 1977 it was exactly the same."
"The AWSA is where it was 20 years ago—concerned only with promoting recreational and family skiing," adds Terry Snow of World Water Skiing magazine. "It has always fought pro skiing."
"These guys need our tournaments more than the tournaments need them," counters Bill Clifford, who has been executive director of the AWSA since 1958. "Our primary obligation is to a national membership not involved in cash-prize tournaments. We can't justify spending the time or the expense to put money in the pockets of a few."