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MOVE THE HAMBO?
Bill Hayes of Du Quoin, Ill. has had a contract with the Hambletonian Society since 1957 to stage trotting's most important race. The contract is renewable every few years, and each time the renewal date approaches rival groups and racetracks enter bids for the privilege of putting on the Hambletonian. Apparently the demeaning spectacle of the sport's premier event being offered regularly to interested bidders does not disturb the society's elders, normally a tradition-proud crew. But they would snicker in their bourbon if the thoroughbred people kept putting the Kentucky Derby on the auction block.
The latest and best-financed effort to get the Hambletonian away from Du Quoin is the work of a group of New Yorkers who want to present it at Saratoga, not at harness racing's Saratoga Raceway but on the famous old thoroughbred track after its traditional month of flat racing ends. Naturally, the Du Quoin forces are resisting, and there are solid arguments for both sides. But one point Du Quoin has in its favor is impressive: in Du Quoin, where it has been for the last 15 years, the Hambletonian has put down firm roots in an area that is appropriately rural and American heartland for this traditional countryside sport. Maybe there is a second point, too: How can anyone even think of presenting the Hambo on a track like Saratoga, a fortress of the thoroughbred Establishment? Why, those folks still call the trotters jugheads.
Proprietors of golf driving ranges won't like this, but Betty Burfeindt, winner of $47,500 last year on the women's golf tour, says, "The more practice balls you hit, the less time you have on the tour. The body takes a terrible strain hitting golf balls. The hands and elbows take a real beating, and the older you get the more ailments you're likely to develop. Arthritis, tendinitis and all those other itises will eventually catch up with you."
She says she will hit a few tee shots to loosen up before a round and will occasionally hit a bucket of balls if she has had problems with her swing. But that's it.
"Just getting out and playing is the best practice of all, and it's a lot easier on your body."
When the Indy-type cars rolled off the tracks and into their winter garages last season, auto racing fans had a pretty good idea what was going to come back out this spring: the 200-mph era. All the basics were there: turbochargers, superadhesive tires, airfoils on everything but drivers' helmets and elbows—about the only thing needed was a few chassis touches to bring the hotshots over the 200 mark. Early tests at various tracks indicated that suspicions were correct, but the official season opener at Phoenix was washed out, which brought the gang to a 200-mile race tucked out of the way on a new track at College Station, Texas last weekend. There, as promised, they cut loose.
Not just one or two, but nine cars qualified at 200-plus mph, led by Bobby Unser's Olsonite-Eagle at a blurring 212.766. A.J. Foyt, with a 206.127-mph average, qualified only seventh and said, "I dunno if I want to ride that fast." He hinted he would be in favor of new restrictions to cut everybody back down to saner levels.