THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, October 18, 1968
Page Ten THE MICHIGAN UAILY
quiet Sunday at the
By PHILBROWN pete in the track's inaugural race,+
It was hot last Sunday, un- a 250-mile event.+
seasonably hot, and the 55,000 The announcer did his bit to'
fans gathered at the Michigan keep them occupied while the
main act was still rehearsing. He
International Speedway were get- shot off inane one-lipers and a
ting restless. half dozen serial acts got the
They had been streaming onto folks into the proper frame of
the Speedway's vast acreage,;south ( mind.
of Jackson since early morning to There was a glider-not really
get a good look at the big names thrilling, but beautiful and dra-
of auto racing who would comL matic, nonetheless-and a couple
of stunt pilots who twisted and
climbed and dove through a series
of rolls to the tune of labored
whines from their planes' engines.
The thrill show came to a stir-
ring climax with the egress of a
parachuting troupe from a plane
almost invisible far overhead, with
two of their number landing
squarely on a large X on the
ground directly in front of the
But even this brought little
reaction from the fans. They ap
plauded politely at the announcer's
request, and fell to silence in
anticipation of the action to come.
Then, from far down toward
the end of the pit area, came a
sputter and a sudden roar. It was
not the sound of just any auto-
mobile engine, and the fans knew
The roar was high-pitched and
loud, because the cars had no
mufflers. They were starting them
up and down the pits, winding
then up and backing them off.
Mechanics made their final ad-
justments, some laboring fever-
ishly with unexplained problems,
the starting time some 15 minutes
Quite abruptly all was silent,
but soon the announcer informed
)all crews that they would be
given another five minutes to run
The start was confusing to the
uninitiated, because it was highly
disorganized in appearance. It
wasn't neat and quick like a
LeMans start, but actually took
nearly five minutes to perform.
Mechanics raced wildly among
the sleek little forms brooding on
the grid, which suddenly came to
life simultaneouslyhroaring their
unique roar, and then beginning
The cars made- the first lap be-
hind the official pace car, running
at a speed between 80 and 120
miles per hour, maintaining their
proper positions in the starting
order while. stragglers zoomed out
of the pits to get in line for the
start; the fans at the Speedway
understood the process, and cheer-
ed each lap as the space increased
and then the pace car dropped
-Daily-Phil Brown -Daily-PhilBrown
WATCHING THE BIG RACE means watching the big-name drivers, and these two got plenty of attention at the Speedway Sunday.
A. J. Foyt (left) steams in the garage area over his car's overheated engine. His anger subsided quickly, and he joked with reporters
when the car had been cooled off. Ronnie Buckman (right), the winner in his first year on the tour, is pulled toward a meeting with
track and USAC officials after posing for the, press.
CAR NUMBER ELEVEN sits alone in the Speedway garage less than halfway through the in-
augural 250-mile race. Driven by tour rookie Gary Bettenhausen, this one succumbed to the rigors of
the 160-mile per hour pace with clutch problems. Others were. forced out with such disparate dif-
ficulties as oil pump problems, broken valves, and a hub which snapped on one of the banked turns.
The cars' speed increased to
something like 170 on the next
lap, the drivers holding the start-
ing pattern, and they got the
flag on the next.
After the start, I got a chance
to run around in the pits and the
garages, and made a few obser-
Like, everything happens awfully
fast in one of those things. The
speed seems to be an. illusion at
first. The cars traverse the two-
mile oval in something like 42
seconds, and it seems to be all you
can do to\keep up with three or
four of them.
Another thing is that you only
need to keep up with three or
four cars, which makes everything
a little easier.
You might say that the cream
rises early in these things. With-
in the first ten laps the leaders
have already begun to out-dis-
tance the pack, which straggles
around the track in bunches of
two and three cars.
You also realize that there is a
fantastic a m o u n t of activity
throughout the race. Some of the
cars come into the pits a half
dozen times before it's over,
changing tires, getting fuel, or
making untold minor repairs.
These cars are as temperamen-
tal as most women, and they have
to be alternately babied and beat-
en to perform well.
But even the most tender loving
care is not enougn' for most of
them. Only a third of them finish
the race, while the rest pack up
quietly and head for the next stop
on the championship tour.
the voter's choice"
Noted Political Scientist
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