For most of the final hour of the 12 Hours of Sebring two weeks ago, Bart Kendall toured the 4 1/2-mile track at a relative crawl to protect his five-lap lead and quiet the imaginary engine sputters that haunted him.
But with three laps remaining and Kendall giddy from his imminent International Motor Sports Assn. GTU-class victory, he cut loose.
"That was the longest hour of my entire life," said Kendall, who lives in La Canada. "I was being so conservative and still hearing (car) noises . . . Once I knew I had first place locked up, I drove real hard."
The win, Kendall's first, might mark the turning point in his career, which has been overshadowed by that of his younger brother, Tom.
Tom Kendall, a senior at UCLA, has already won three consecutive IMSA championships and has now moved up to the Trans-Am series. Tom, however, has never won an endurance race on the IMSA circuit.
Any race that is longer than three hours is classified as an endurance race.
In addition to winning the race, Bart Kendall was presented the Norelco Cup, which is awarded by the media to the outstanding driver in the GTO- and GTU-class.
Kendall was assisted by co-drivers George Robinson and Johnny Unser, cousin of defending Long Beach Grand Prix winner Al Unser Jr. One reason for the team's success might have been the parity of the drivers.
"All three of us could turn similar lap times," Kendall said. "Whereas the other teams had one or two drivers that were stronger and the third was a big drop off. We were able to run consistent where other people were fast, then slow, then fast."
If only Kendall could find that type of consistency in a sponsor. He had six of 12 races with a Mazda team last year and raced four times with other sponsors but was not provided enough money to finish the season.
Sebring, he says, should push up his stock.
"Now my name is at least on some people's list," he said. "And when my name comes up I will have leap-frogged past some people."
Rugaboo: Maybe it was best that the rugby match wasn't played in the Rose Bowl.
Now the Oxy Olde Boys, a team composed mostly of Occidental College alumni, will have an easier time forgetting it.
The Southern California Rugby Football Union Division 2 championship match was originally scheduled to be played in the Rose Bowl, but because of insurance complications, it took place on the lawn outside.
The Olde Boys held a four-point lead over the Old Aztecs of San Diego State at the intermission but lost, 23-10.
The contest was marred by 25 penalties--20 called again Occidental.
Bryce Morton, an Olde Boy forward, says he and his teammates took exception to many of the calls.
"The referee shouldn't have that much to do with the game," Morton said. "It's kind of disheartening that every time you get something going, you get a penalty. It was ridiculous. Things that are never called were called."
Occidental will get a shot at redemption at the UC Santa Barbara tournament April 8-9.
Said Coach Greg Holmes: "That will soothe some hurt feelings."
Tops in high-tops: Senior basketball players from 22 high schools--10 in the Glendale area--will participate in a Glendale/Burbank boys' and girls' all-star doubleheader April 1.
The event will be held at Woodbury University in Burbank, and proceeds will benefit community sports and recreation facilities.
The girls' game will begin at 6:30 with the boys' game at 8:15. Tickets are $5 for adults 18 and over, $3 for high school students with identification and $2 for children under 12.
Teams were selected from recommendations of area coaches.
The boys' team includes Allen Faalnik (Glendale); Chad Blatchley (Glendale); Brent Hoxie (Glendale); Aaron Shaw (Marshall); Michael Epps (Eagle Rock); Allen Freemon (St. Francis); Tom Parada (St. Francis); Chad Givens (La Canada); Chris Jones (La Canada); Greg Thompson (La Canada); Mike Hanson (La Canada); Raffie Eskandarian (Crescenta Valley); John Gilmore (Crescenta Valley); Gino Wang (Hoover); Maher Noueihed (Hoover); Robert Gonzalez (Hoover); Maurice Lawson (Ribet Academy); James Lawson (Ribet); and Charlie Specht (Flintridge Prep).
The girls' team includes Maria Kim (Hoover), Rena Winter (Marshall), Julie Serote (Crescenta Valley), Paige Donaldson (Crescenta Valley), Christine Plasch (Crescenta Valley), Lia Petrosian (Glendale), Angela Armandariz (Glendale), Alina Zakikian (Glendale), Jeannie Mulcahey (Glendale), Meg Fitzgerald (La Canada), Donna Forster (La Canada), Michelle Quinn (La Canada), Michelle Porta (Sacred Heart), Cathy Andrews (Sacred Heart), Erin Konrad (Sacred Heart), Kate Kerrigan (Flintridge Prep) and Nikki Liem (Flintridge Prep).
Girls from Holy Family, Verdugo Hills and Eagle Rock highs will be added this week.