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PUSH VS. PULL
The Trenton (N.J.) 100-mile national championship race bills itself as an Indianapolis "500" preview. This year's Brickyard curtain raiser offered more than stars and speed. There was a subplot: the drama of front- vs. rear-engine championship race cars. Both develop roughly the same power and, as 1961 Indy winner A. J. Foyt insists, "That little old engine don't know whether it is pushing you or pulling you." So the intrigue centers more on design (the rear-engine cars present a lower, faster silhouette), weight (the rear-engine cars average 300 pounds lighter) and maneuverability (the argument goes, hotly, both ways here). The Trenton preview, then, presented an advance look at what is certain to become a wonderful gang fight at Indianapolis.
The antagonists at Trenton were Foyt, generally accepted as a traditionalist front-engine man, against Rodger Ward, two-time Indy winner (he was a front man in those days himself) who is now a fervent convert to the rear-engine cars. Unfortunately, their test was not uncluttered.
Before a rainstorm slicked the track and interrupted the race at the 39-lap mark, Foyt and Ward ran 1 and 2 ahead of everybody (with Ward gaining slightly on each lap, perhaps), providing ammunition for both fore- and aft-engine loyalists. Then Ward ran into a snarl of spinning racers and bumped the side of his car. Not wanting to risk further injury to the Indy car, he voted not to continue. That gave the race to Foyt—who won in a burst of track records—but it did even more toward heightening the intrigue. The racing world now waits for the other motorized shoe to drop at Indy. In the May 30 runaround Ward may be able to prove his point.
For more than a century racing for the America's Cup has been controlled primarily by Britons, Bostonians and New Yorkers. The ritual called for one new challenger and at least one new contender for the defense. The rest of the world played golf. The pattern was broken in 1962 by Australia's bold and nearly successful challenge. This year Australia is backing a British boat, but the defense has been proceeding routinely. New York sedulously ordered two new boats while Boston thriftily dusted off a 1962 model to make an untidy threesome for the defense trials. Then, from out of the West, came Thomas Patrick Dougan, unknown, unannounced, to deal himself in at the last minute. With a mere handful of change (about $250,000) Dougan bought 6-year-old Columbia, and with her a readymade opportunity to defend the cup.
Whether they wear blue blazers or buckskins, we welcome the pioneers. The hand at the helm should not be governed by ritual but by the wind. And it is a fresh wind that blows out of the West.
A MOVE TO SPECTATORITIS
Perhaps no state produces more fine athletes than California—a tribute, no doubt, to a salubrious year-round climate and a geography that entices the individual to everything from skiing to surfing. Some of the state's sporting prowess may be due also to a school system requirement that one hour a day be given to physical education.
Now that daily hour is threatened. There is a move afoot to have shorter physical education periods (11 minutes has been mentioned) or perhaps have the hour-long period only one or two days a week. Furthermore, a committee of the Southern Section of the California Interscholastic Federation proposes a rule that would prohibit high school athletes from participating in organized sport between August 15 and the start of the school year one month later. "This would enable parents to take their youngsters on vacations and would give high school athletes a breather before the beginning of school in the fall," the committee explains.