Maury Z. Levy

Archive for the ‘WomenSports magazine’ Category

Where Did You Go? Up. What Did You Do? Nothing.

In WomenSports magazine on September 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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In the morning by the moonlight, they began to play. Over the rich green fields of Princeton, where the sky was a deep purple haze, the splashes of orange that stained the horizon told them that time was running out. If they wanted to get it up by sunrise, while the winds were still and the deer were asleep in the forest next door, they’d have to turn the fan on high.

Her friends, the friends of the pilot, the ones who had driven down from New York to New Jersey in a procession of silver Mercedes with diplomatic license plates, helped spread the big nylon bag on the ground. As the fan kept blowing, the flattened bag became slowly pregnant, the right side laying flat on its back on the grass as the left side puffed and swelled and grew.

The sun, which had been fighting inevitability for al­most an hour, was up now to a huge horizontal half-moon of golden rays that streaked Pamela Henry’s waist-brown hair to an ashy chrome. She pulled up the zipper in her shiny red jump suit and laced up her high black boots and walked into the hole of the still-growing, starred and striped balloon like a cherry bomb that had been swal­lowed by a whale.

Because she was so small and so light, she could do this well, walking inside the big bag that still lay on the ground, smoothing out all the wrinkles, lining up all the creases. It was a new balloon, never flown before, just unpacked from Texas, and the fresh new folds made crink­ling noises as the rushing air pulled them apart.

It took shape slowly. It was like blowing up a plastic swimming pool with your mouth, only a lot bigger and longer and a lot more dangerous.

As the people from the silver cars pulled very hard on the cables, the big, stubborn bag finally became erect and firm over the steel and wicker gondola. It was full now, and it stood there in the still grass tall and proud and incongruous, like an eight-story building from another century, another world.

The long red and white stripes reached up to a strip of stars on a bright blue field. Pam Henry climbed into the little cage at the bottom and looked straight up into the hole. The sun was now a back light to the east. In the light, you could see the endless crisscross of reinforced nylon cord, the stuff that was carefully woven in to keep the big bag from breaking.

She pulled hard and fast on the ripcord that opened the propane jets just over her head. Small flames shot out each time she tugged. One of her gauges showed the quick temperature change. Within minutes, the balloon was full of hot air and ready to go.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Drive, She Said

In WomenSports magazine on September 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

3262517956_be1459f4e7She hit the guard rail and her car broke and her neck snapped and she spun around facing the wrong way with the other cars coming at her at 125 miles an hour. She couldn’t move and her head was heavy and all she could think about was maybe that her brain was bleeding.

For Glenna Sacks, who is 26, and a female, and a race car driver, it was the quick end to a tough weekend at Watkins Glen. She had run on Saturday in her Formula V, a sleek sliver of custom fiberglass with the large parts of a Volkswagen underneath. She was having a few problems with the car, a little sputtering and funny noises, so she took it easy, just aiming to finish, and she ended up in the middle of the pack.

And then Sunday came. She and her husband Jon had been working on the car all night. They figured they had everything in order and that now she could take it out and really open it up. When the green flag dropped, she was the leader of the pack. She put her right foot on the floor and firmly moved the steering wheel around the twists and the turns of a very precise road racing course.

The car was humming through the first four laps. Glenna Sacks kept looking in her mirror to watch the pack of men trying to catch her, and she kept pulling away and she felt very good. Then, on the fifth lap, in the first turn, something went very badly wrong. It was all very quick. She heard a snap and felt a pop and the steering wheel was oatmeal. She never made it through the very tight turn. She started falling pretty badly and then she started spin­ning until she got to the top outside where her car hit two rows of corrugated steel and pushed them back three yards.

She knew she had pretty much wrecked her car, but she didn’t know what was wrong with herself. She couldn’t move much. She felt stiff and broken and she had this strange pain in her head; that’s what worried her most. She had watched the heads of other race car drivers, in similar straights, bleed and hemorrhage and clot. And she was scared because she didn’t know what to think.

“These thoughts,” she says, “all come whizzing into your head in no particular order. Things flash by. Maybe your whole life. My first thought was that I could look over my shoulder out of the corner of my eye and see that I was far enough in front of the guys behind me that they probably weren’t going to pile in and demolish me.

“This was when I was still spinning. It really hadn’t hit me yet that I was going to crash. I started thinking, ‘Damn, they’re going to catch up to me and pass me.’ Then I started spinning around and around and just a fraction of a second before I went into the guard rail I realized I was going to hit it. And I was terrified for a split second because I knew it was going to hurt a lot. And it was really going to damage my car. And it did. And it knocked me cold. And I came to in the middle of the track, crosswise and other cars were flying by me and I was stunned. I couldn’t move. I figured, my God, I broke my neck. And I tried to wiggle my fingers and they wiggled and the cars kept flying by. And my toes wiggled so I knew I hadn’t broken my neck. But I knew 1 had broken something because I really hurt a lot.   Read the rest of this entry »

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