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OVALIZING AT MONZA
A responsible facsimile of the Indianapolis "500" race track stands outside Monza, Italy. One reason it was built there was to provide a place where top American drivers in Indianapolis cars could race against top European drivers in Grand Prix cars, and so settle many a year of argument over which group is superior. Ten Americans and their cars are headed for Italy, and the Monza "500" is set for June 29. Yet it may not, after all, do much to settle the old question.
For many of the European drivers recently organized themselves into a union—and, having done so, voted to boycott the Monza race. Why? "Because," said Juan Manuel Fangio, the world champion Grand Prix driver and the man who suggested the union in the first place, "one cannot participate in a race knowing in advance that he will never win it or even finish in a good position." Grand Prix cars, he stressed, are used in road racing—that is, on odd-shaped courses with varied turns. Their drivers must be able to turn both left and right, brake sharply, accelerate quickly and make use of the gears. Indianapolis cars, on the other hand, are tailored to go around an oval track. They have only one useful forward speed, their springs are jacked to favor a left-hand turn (for the turns at Indianapolis) and they are built to withstand sustained high speeds and the extra stresses that centrifugal force imposes at the banked curves. The Monza "500" would therefore, said Fangio, be a matter of matching Indianapolis cars specially built for oval racing against Grand Prix cars which were not—and there was no question who would win.
His argument seemed pretty well borne out by the recent accomplishment of the American driver Pat O'Connor in an American car: O'Connor went around the Monza track in 55 seconds, clipping four seconds off the record.
Still, there will be European entries at Monza—some Jaguars, some Ferraris and perhaps a few others. But the outcome seems fairly certain, and likewise the postrace comments. The Americans will probably be able to say, "Of course we won—and they were afraid to race against us." The Europeans can say, "Naturally they won—but not against our best drivers." Yet neither view will quite reflect the facts.
The present situation is not, however, a permanent stalemate. Some of the European drivers are already suggesting that their automakers build a few cars in which they can take the curves and straightaways of Monza on equal terms with the Americans.
PATH TO UNDERSTANDING
After deep thought, the Buddhist monks of Mt. Koya, whose templed mountaintop south of Osaka has long been a shrine for Japanese-pilgrims, have now carved out a baseball diamond and ordered bats, balls and uniforms for themselves.
"The priestly duty has always made it imperative for us to understand what is uppermost in the secular mind," explained one of Mt. Koya's elders.
"Baseball is uppermost."