Monday, May 22, 2017

Mondays With Murray: The 500: Gentlemen, Start Your Coffins!


Introducing the new Jim Murray collection book — The LA Rams: Home Again; A History of LA's Team from the Voice of the City.
Is now is available for purchase by clicking right here.
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MONDAYS WITH MURRAY:
THE 500: 'Gentlemen, Start Your Coffins!'
In 1966, Jim Murray wrote four words that would live forever in the annals of sports history. Those four words also would have him condemned by the Mayor of Indianapolis, banned from the city and scowled at by the open wheel racing community.  
Those four words were . . . GENTLEMEN, START YOUR COFFINS! . . . and the rest is racing history.
  ENJOY! 
——
SUNDAY, MAY 29, 1966, SPORTS
Copyright 1966/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
  
JIM MURRAY

THE 500: 'Gentlemen, Start Your Coffins!'

On Monday, Memorial Day, 33 of the fastest car drivers in the world will be roaring around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But what you are watching is not to be construed as a race. It is, instead, just a test drive of a lot of new 1966 models. It says so right in their publicity.
Indy, in short is just a proving ground for a lot of stock 1966 Lola Fords, and we take you now to the Speedway where the announcer is explaining the new rules to the crowd.
      "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 50th annual Memorial Day Safety Contest, the world's fastest traffic jam. This year, in order to more nearly approximate road conditions on our nation's highways and test performance under authentic hazards, we have brought about several changes in the field:
"The driver in Car No. 4 — the Schenley Special — will be drunk.  The driver in Car No. 5 will just have had a fight with his wife. The driver in Car No. 7 will be color blind, the driver in Car No. 11 will have an IQ of 12 or exactly 490 points below his horsepower. The driver in Car No. 0 will have his arm around a girl and 19 traffic citations for reckless driving. He will be called upon to light her cigarette at 195-miles-per-hour.
"Car No. Blank will have no brakes. We are keeping the number secret because we want it to come as a complete surprise to the driver. Car No. 13 will have 14 teenagers and 9 surfboards in it and will have bald tires and a burned-out clutch. It will, however, have a souped-up engine, too, and the teenagers will be instructed to throw pop bottles into the path of oncoming cars at stated intervals. They will also have the radio on too loud to hear sirens. Car No. 70 will have two little old ladies from Pasadena.
"Now, ordinarily, for tests like these, automotive research uses articulated dummies to study crash effects, but today instead of articulated dummies we're using race drivers. Gentlemen, start your coffins."
We take you now to the pits, where Floorboard Finnegan is pulling in for his first consultation with Fender Slapper, the head of sales and design:
Fender: "How'd she go, Floorboard, options work OK?
Floorboard: "Well, the stereo sticks. The Sextet From Lucia' turned into a trio. But, listen, Boss, we're going to have to recall all the stock Lola Fords on the highway. The door sticks."
Fender: "Tut, tut. Never mind the incidentals. How were the ash trays? How was the mileage?"
Floorboard: "Excellent, I get 143 feet, to the gallon."
Fender: "And the brakes?"
Floorboard: "On, fine. At 195 m.p.h., you got a stopping distance of 21½ miles. Unless, of course, you're on a hill when it's 41½ miles. If you're going to Chicago, you better start stopping about at Hammond, Ind. But, Boss, do you think you should have the gas pedal and the brake on the same pedal?"
Fender: "We're advertising it as 'Putting the thrill back in driving.' Where's Leadfoot in our new Ocelot Sports Schmorts Special?"
Floorboard: "Burned on the backstretch."
Fender (slapping forehead): "Oy! How can we use that in the ad campaign?"
Floorboard (helpfully): "Well, you could say, 'Our new Ocelot burns faster 2-to-1 than our nearest competitor.'"
Fender: "Never mind. Headlights O.K.?"
Floorboard: "For spotting airplanes. The only time they focus on the ground is when you're cartwheeling."
Fender: "How about the automatic transmission?"
Floorboard: "Well, it's okay, except I never did get as far as 'L' in the alphabet in school. I have to guess between 'P' and 'R.' I'm the first guy to take the parade lap backward. Also, the clock on the dashboard is an hour slow."
Fender: "Well, the color. Do you care for the color — charcoal green?" 
Floorboard (shuddering): "please don't mention that color around a racetrack, Boss."
Fender: "Green?"
Floorboard: "No. Charcoal."
Fender: "Well, Floorboard, out you go. Check the glove compartment and the bass on the radio this time. Does it work?"
Floorboard: "Oh, fine, Boss. I keep the ball game on. (Firing up.) Hey, fellas, which one of these letters stands for 'Drive'?"

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116
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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 
  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.
Like us on Facebook, and visit our newly refreshed JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org 


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