The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on May 23, 1982 · Page 113
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 113

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 23, 1982
Page 113
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SUNDAY, MAY 23, 1982- THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR -3H Stopwatch idea 'clicks,' gives pilot second job By BETSY HARRIS When Jim Ellis first saw a digital electronic stopwatch, "it clicked" roaringly so for this man of understatements. "I saw them as paying my .way to go to races," says the Indiana- t polis born commercial airline pilot and motor sports enthusiast. In a decade of selling and servicing the ever-updated timingscoring watches, the San Bernardino (Calif.) resident has raced across the United States countless times. He -also has 'followed the sport in Europe. "This year is the ultimate," says 'Ellis. . ALL 33 PIT CREWS will use his clipboards with digital stopwatches to time their entries in the 66th 500 Mile Race. And high atop Tower Terrace, United States Auto Club officials will tjme and score the race with a system designed by the former Hoosier. His Sports Timing and Technology (STT) clipboards will be plugged into the Dataspeed computer at San Francisco ' for instant results. ' r "A sense of accomplishment" envelops him, says Ellis, 46, who as an Avon farm boy hawked TVie Indiana-poliYStar at a "500" in the late '40s. He and his father were at the track by 2.30 a.m. "a long day!" remembers the handsome, soft-spoken man. "I'll never forget; I made $18.75, which was a lot of money in those days." A geologist by training at Principia College, the Continental Airlines captain moves anonymously among race fans milling outside his May quarters beneath Tower Terrace stands. There he holes up night and day, repairing those sophisticated -stopwatches he sold to go racing. . . DOES HIS SUCCESS with this second job preclude first-hand observation of the sport he loves? "On Race .Day I have the best seat in the .house," Ellis claims. , He is stationed along the inside track wall of the main straightaway, cWhere he mans the sign board for the Pennzoil Chaparral team. Its pilot, Johnny Rutherford, is responsible for the zealous interest of the "chairman of the board," as the airlines pilot dubs himself. In December 1970 Ellis was captain on a flight from Vietnam, where Rutherford, now a three-time "500" winner, had been on a USO hand shaking mission. "The hostess came up front .and told me we had a real race driver aboard," recounts one who had raced the Baja 1000 in the preceding November. "She said his name was Johnny .something." Ellis invited Rutherford to a seat in the cockpit, "and from the Philippines to Honolulu we talked airplanes and race cars." The driver asked him to come to Ontario, Calif., the following Monday for tire tests. "When I got home, I told my wife and she said, 'He's just being polite.' So I didn't go." AT 9 THAT MONDAY night, Ruth erford called, asking the pilot where he had been. The following day Raeanna and Jim Ellis were at Ontario watching the famed Texan. Betty Rutherford was there too. Camaraderie was instant and continuing. The two couples now are co-owners of a condominium at Steamboat Springs, Colo. In 1972 Ellis returned to Indianapolis for a "500" as a guest of Rutherford. In 1973 he was asked to join the crew, which gave him access to the garage area and pits "a thrill. Those are sacred areas to a kid," remembers Ellis. HIS WIFE ALSO joined the crew, and in recent "500"s, it has been her voice relaying directions from team manager Jim Hall that Ellis has heard over his headsets. Ellis is ever concerned "that I am giving Johnny the proper information and that I'm not confusing him." This year he will crew at 11 Indy car races. His schedule also includes three Formula One competitions. At other races, he operates his stopwatch business "out of my briefcase and a suitcase." "I am not an electronics engineer," Ellis emphasizes. He explains to STT's designers what racing crews require in a stopwatch. Some of those needs he knows firsthand. Before retiring in 1978, Eliis won a number of off-road races, running against the likes of Rick Mears. He is proudest of finishing third of 437 entrants in the Mint 400 at Las Vegas. His clipboards with digital electronic stop watches simplify timing and scoring, according to the developer. Hooking them into a computer has been in development for seven years. Ellis worked with USAC officials Art Graham and Les Kimbrell on the project. THIS APPLICATION of technology to racing will help promote the sport, believes Ellis. "For it to grow, you have to educate people with more updated information," which the com-, puter can spit out instantly on a monitor or print out. The system, which will be imple mented in Tower Terrace, was tested in March at the Phoenix 150, "and it worked perfectly. There were no er rors. No protests," reports Ellis. But there will be human backup should the technology space out. "You could fly a plane to Houston on automatic pilot," observes the captain, but he'd not be a passenger without a human in the cockpit. He has no plans to give up a career in flying. Once persons are involved in aviation "they would pay to fly. If you can get paid, you might as well," Ellis says and shrugs. His first exposure occurred after college graduation, when he was a pilot in the Marine Corps. After mustering out, he worked for a petroleum drilling company in Venezuela for two years until the call came for commercial pilots. The 17-year Continental employee is unlike other pilots who, in formulating their monthly flying schedules, bid for the most favorable conditions: time of day and destination. "I BID TO GET days off," says the 727 captain. As the Los Angeles based pilot flies to less than fun cities in the middle of the night, "I sometimes wonder if racing is worth it," he teases with a smile. But then Ellis plunges into most undertakings. As a youngster, he swam competitively and was first and second in Indiana in his age divisions when he was 13 and 12, respectively. "The Rivy (Riviera Club) gave my family a year's membership so I could swim for it. At 12 I taught little kids to swim at the Indianapolis Athletic Club through a 'Y' program." Now in his leisure time, Ellis is a commercial sword fisherman. "I sell fish," he explains of the harpooning Friend of the family . By THE FAMILY SERVICE ASSOCIATION STAFF .. . Mary, Fred and their three children go their separate ways so much that one would think there was little to bind them together. The parents have jobs and community responsibilities, 'the children have school and their activities. The children, like many today, feel left out of family life. They've never 'been to Dad's factory or to Mom's dffice. Their ideas about what their "parents do are vague, mostly because Mary and Fred never have taken the time to explain what a work day is .Ijke, .how they feel about their jobs ,an,d why they've chosen them, whether, they're living by the values they say they believe in. -' Mary and Fred feel it's important to work hard to provide designer .clqthes and extras for their children so they won't feel left out. They're trying to save to send their children to college. . - ALL THE WHILE they're neglecting a vital part of their children's preparation for life: the self-respect that comes from belonging to a family . and accepting the responsibilities that go with it. When to begin this process is at birth, though it's never too late to start. Why is to help the child learn to respect his unique contribution to the group and appreciation of others for theirs. "- Then there's the what and how. Parents can talk to a child as they cradle him in their arms, even though he won't understand the words. Later, he'll look to them as sources of knowledge and information. Rocking him, reading to him, playing with him are beneficial, just as is doing jobs together. "Let's pick up the toys" or "Let's stack the plates" give the child the opportunity to help. A CHILD'S participation in household tasks or income earnings can increase with his age, along with the level of books and games. The more children hear from their parents, the more they're likely to share ideas and feelings. The more parents listen and encourage each child to express his opinions, weigh choices, make decisions, the more a child feels he counts. A parent who respects his child's choice of friends, in spite of initial negative reactions, often experiences some surprises when he sees what the child saw first: that the friend's an "all right" companion. Children need to feel accepted by their friends while maintaining a sense of belonging to their families. Children stand a better chance of meeting negative peer pressure if they live in a closely knit family. A CHILD'S RESPECT for his parents' rule and authority is also a necessity. The best rules parents can mane are those they can' enforce. Rules made and carried out for a child's well-being make him feel important enough for parents to take a stand in his behalf. It's worthwhile, however, to remember that "familiarity breeds contempt." A child needs some space he can call his own and some time to be alone. Just as there are times to insist a child join in, there are times when a child needs his privacy. Parents who agree that these sound like practical suggestions may ask "But when will I have time?" Modern life may make them feel that "beat the clock" is their only game. Our advice is to spend as much time as possible, but make the time count. The child should not have to share his time with others. PARENTS LIKE Mary and Fred probably stop now and then to ask "Am I really having much influence in my child's life? Are TV, school, friends setting the standards? Am I losing touch because I can't stand the music my offspring likes. Does my child think I live in another world because I don't understand , modern math, the new metric system, chemistry?" Parents who start at any point in time to include their children in the family, from table talk to outings to vacations to sharing their innermost feelings and dreams, do find children growing up into adults who believe they count for something, because they did so in their parents' eyes. Such a sense of self-worth can help them weather many of life's stormy times. Family counselors can help you learn more about Including your children in family life. The Family Service Association, 634-6341, is a United Way agency. New protective coating may lessen sailors9 work CHICAGO TRIBUNE 'A new protective coating may make life a lot easier and cleaner for recruits in the' Navy, and for pleasure boat and home owners, says the American Chemical Society. The chemical coating, known as fluorinated polyurethane, has shown excellent resistance to weathering and sunlight, in addition to being easy to apply by brush or spray. When combined with Teflon, the substance used to provide non-stick surfaces in frying pans, the new coatings are useful. The Navy first designed the coatings to try to cope with the fouling of ships' hulls by marine organisms. The little critters still manage to get a hold, but they can be easily washed off one test showed that barnacles could be sprayed off with a fire hose, which is good news for sailors who must spend long, tedious hours scraping them off now. M' ' y V K ; ;'A S V i. 'M v - , Of II (Stsr Ptit By Jcrrv Clark) Jim Ellis (left) aftd driver Johnny Rutherford check out timing system expeditions in the Pacific Ocean. And Challenge and has patents pending on weeks ago may prompt Dad to take he is a skier with trophies which ski timer design ideas. up the racquet, he predicts, although bespeak his ability in amateur compe- "I've never played tennis," says he foresees no commercial application tition. Last year he set up the comput- Ellis. Their 10-year-old daughter's win in it for him. "A stopwatch won't work er-timed Jerry Ford Celebrity Ski in a San Bernardino tennis match two in that sport," he declares. SAVE UP TO 13 STOREWIDE PLUS RECEIVE KITTLE' S & KITTLE' S ETHAN ALLEN'S r. SPRING BONUS IN ADDITIONAL MERCHANDISE OF YOUR CHOICE FREE WITH EVERY KITTLE'S PURCHASE! U b li AC4 reg. $564 f J I 5950 Here's How The Bonus Works: After you have selected your purchase, your sales consultant will write up a sales ticket and calculate ten percent of the total. 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