Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 26, 1974 · Page 39
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May 26, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 39

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, May 26, 1974
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Page 39
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30 --May 26,1974 Sunday Gazette-Mail -Charleston, w«t Virginia Foyt 'Man to Beat' Today* 9 Indy Drivers Feel INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis 500-mile auto race, often tragic, always spectacular, is scheduled for its 58th running today and the · man in the saddle is Anthony Joseph Foyt Jr. -" The $1 million classic, re" turning after a year in which it tried to live down a blood bath that was the 1973 fiasco, ' fires off at noon, EDT. Foyt. admittedly nearing the twilight of a brilliant career, goes off from the front row pole position in a handmade car that consistently was the fastest of the 33 starters in many days of qualifying and warmups. ; '· "He is the man to beat, and ; · it isn't going to be easy." said ; 1969 champion Mario Andret- i · ti. summing up the opinion of 1 most drivers. "He is smart, a tough, hardened competitor, and he doesn't give up." Safe Month '·J- It took the better part of a month to put the show togeth- *. er. but it was a safe month. · ;; There were several minor ; - crashes but not a single driver ·-\ was hurt. The only pre-race ;· casualties involved a speed- · ' w a y official who fell and / broke his hip the day the track ·' opened for practice, and a mechanic who let his car run ""- over him--worth a broken leg. ·,- The 33 participants in this ' · most dangerous, richest and -' most prestigious motoring I^event in the world qualified at ; »an average speed 182.787 ~ ~ miles per hour, making it the **third quickest ever assem- Wed. **' The starters include two '^veterans already past their 36th birthday, four years who -"are are more than 40, and sev- '."·Sn who are making their first -^ start at shop-worn Indianpolis r ~ Motor Speedway. ;'* For just over three hours of ^ b l i n d i n g speed and ; heartthrobbing action they %"will divide a jackpot that for traffic b jam Due In the last four years has totaled more than $1 million. Former Winners The field includes not only three-time champion Foyt but former winners Andretti, the Unser brothers, Bobby and Al, and Gordon Johncock. Some, like the battle- scarred Lloyd Ruby, 46, have -been trying to win it for at least 15 years and in some cases it has been touch-and-go, with victory in sight. Ruby says he'll quit when he finally lands in Victory Lane, and may not quit until he does. Johncock, a stocky little blond, was in front last year when rain finally called a halt. to a tragic race week that saw one start aborted by a horrifying, fire bomb crash that criti-, cally injured David "Salt" Walther and doused many spectators with flaming fuel. 'I Thank God' Walther, 26 back for another ·; INDIANAPOLIS ( A P ) ·" 7 -- Traffic in the pits on race ;_-day is going to make the Los .Angeles Freeway look like it's ;- .^closed for repairs. '·^- "If there are any accidents I ^this year," said Veteran Indi- -anapolis 500 driver AI Unser, "-'"they're going to happen in -?the pits." :; With the fuel load in the ;lowslung Indy racers limited *to 40 gallons for -today's :-start of the 58th Indy 500, each ·^,of the 33 cars will average ;';·· ;about a halfdozen refueling - ,:; stops. That .means more than ,. *200 trips in and out of an area ;"less than one-half mile long. - ^ ' Safety Measures I''"'. "By the time I get ready to ^*go back out there," said Un~*ser, who won here in 1970 and' ·-H971, "I'll be going close to 100 " jniles an hour. - 1 ^ "If I had my choice, I'd fuel I%up right on the track." ]t"; With two fatal flaming ·» ^-crashes last year and a crew^i. Jnan killed in the pits by a fire .^ -truck going against the nor- Jnal traffic flow, increased -£ -safety measures were taken. » The pits have been length- 'lened by 856 feet, giving each 10 more feet of "parking *^ipace." Emergency vehicles ;T'vfill be stationed at both ends «·; of the area to avoid two-way *, traffic, and a one-lap penalty -"^will be imposed on any driver t7whose crewman crosses the ·"jit pavement while his car '··itill is in the race. ;" Although the U.S. Auto Club tv set the penalties, Clarence Ca- 3l e . grounds superintendent *~-for the last 29 years, was in ''charge of some $300,000 in im- ·^ provements in the pits and jj other areas round 2Vz miles of -! asphalt. I; 'Gold Tower' V . : Ahtough Cagle has been ·'.busy commanding security .j 'and hasn't actually watched a -i.xace since 1939, he probably '.'.] knows the Indianapolis Motor v Speedway and its environs better than any man. V. Although he considers the . '.J improvements in the pits the ;· most advantageous of his · : year's efforts, he calls the '.;· new starter's booth the "gold r tower." ~ I » "That's because we spent so ;^much overtime getting it Inbuilt," said the lean, leathery ; '.Cagle. "We didn't get the goa- · ;; --head until April 16 and we had .; ;to have it done by May 6." li'Softball Tourney A elimination elinination *!' slow-pitch softball tourna- '-' ment will be held at the North I', Charleston Recreation Center -' Field next Saturday and Sun- '."· day. Entry fee is $35 and a ; new ball. For information c o n t a c t Steve Boggess '(744-9750) or David Snyder (iZr8-5384 or 348-3175 K -:.-| · try after two months in hospitals and the loss of most of the fingers on his left hand, starts a respectable 14th. "I thank God that he gave me another opportunity," Walther said. Johncock made only 332.5 miles last year, having already lost an old teammate, Art Pollard, in a practice crash and one of his crewmen in a pit road accident on the day the race was finally run. He collected $236,022.82, but wasn't satisfied. "I want to win a full 500, not a tainted one," he growled. "Except for the mo money, victory last year didn't do me any good. Most people still don't know me." Safety Program The 1973 field broke all speed records at the ancient 2V2-mile oval, and in the aftermath of the tragic week offi- A.J.FOYTJR. WALLY DALLENBACH T/IPV Ijook Rorednt Drivers Mictine cials of the U.S. Auto Club embarked on a program to cut speeds and make the open- wheel racers safer. They ordered drastic reduction in the sizes of the wings mounted on the rear of the cars, cut fuel supplies--both on board and in reserve tanks-- drastically and made other changes. This year, the cars have been allowed only 280 gallons of the highly inflammable al- coholmethanol fuel for the 500 miles, and only 40 gallons can be carried on board at one time--all of it on the left side, away from the natural right side crash area. In the first outing under the new rules, several cars ran out of fuel and were unable to complete a 500-mile race at Ontario, Calif. Forewarned, speedway officials say the drivers will be forced to slow down in today's race or come up short when the biggest p?y- checks in racing are handed out Monday. There also have been some safety improvements at the Speedway. Pit Road Extended The pit road was extended another 1,000 feet to give drivers easier "in and out" situations. The concrete wall separating the service-pit area and the race track was heightened by 18 inches. And, equally important, the outside retaining barrier that separates the race course from the front stretch grandstand was raised several feet. Box seats just outside the wall were eliminated to prevent a fire bath situation like that in the Walter incident last year. Most of the 300,000 or more spectators probably won't notice the improvements, nor will they immediately get the idea that the cars may not be running as fast as they did last year. The other front row starters are Wally Dallenbach, 37, from New Jersey, and Mike Hiss, 29 from California. 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