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Notebook / Sam Farmer : Local Drivers Crash in Long Beach Races

Tom Kendall and Dave Kudrave both hail from La Canada, have known each other since youth, attended the same high-performance driving school and have had a great deal of success since they took up auto racing.

And both were involved in accidents during their respective races in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend.

Neither driver was injured, but the outcome of their collisions differed greatly.

Kudrave’s crash occurred on the first lap of Sunday’s 55-mile American Racing Series race. Traveling at about 140 m. p. h., he was rear-ended by Johnny O’Connell going into Turn One. The mishap knocked Kudrave out of the race and, by his estimation, did approximately $40,000 damage to his car.

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“It’s heartbreaking. It really is,” Kudrave, 23, said. “There’s an old saying in racing, ‘You can’t win a race on the first lap but you can certainly lose one.’ And he (O’Connell) was trying to win on the first lap.”

Kudrave is still uncertain how the accident happened.

“Maybe someone was squeezing him into me,” said Kudrave, who recently moved up from super-vee and had never crashed at the ARS level. “Or maybe he was trying to intimidate me and make me slow down to let him pass.”

Kudrave has traditionally had tough luck at Long Beach. Last year his gearbox broke, and in 1987 a pileup in front of him knocked his car out of the race. Both mishaps took place in super-vee events.

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Kendall, 22, was more fortunate in his paint swapping. His accident came on the next-to-last lap of the 100.2-mile Trans Am race, catapulting Kendall into third place and sending Stuart Hayner’s car, with which Kendall’s collided, spinning out of contention.

Both Kendall and Hayner were attempting to pass a slower car in a turn. Kendall, who was directly behind Hayner, cut to the right to slide by. Hayner, who apparently did not notice Kendall, also moved right to pass, clipping Kendall’s front left fender.

According to Kendall, there were no hard feelings between he and Hayner. However, Kendall says he accepts the blame.

“It’s ultimately the overtaking driver’s responsibility to get by cleanly,” Kendall said. “Obviously, in this case, the burden rests on me.”

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Kendall finished second when the car of Les Lindley, which had a huge lead for most of the race, broke down with a quarter-mile remaining.

Conference crushing: The Occidental College track team defeated Claremont and Redlands in its final Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference duel meets last weekend, ensuring the Tiger women’s team of an undefeated conference record in the 1980s. The men’s team has lost two conference duel meets in the past decade.

But domination was de rigueur for the Tigers long before Coach Bill Harvey arrived in 1979. Since World War II , Occidental has won 38 of 42 conference championships. Pomona-Pitzer won the other four. Several schools, including Claremont, have never beaten the Tigers.

This season’s conference meet will be held April 28-29 at Pomona.

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Occidental’s success does cause some problems, though. Sleepwalking to the winner’s circle is cozy, but a lack of competition frustrates Harvey.

“Last year it wasn’t a problem,” Harvey said. “We won, and didn’t have any close shaves, but the outcome wasn’t totally secure. I don’t think it’s so much that we’re so strong, (other teams) are just down.”

Nevertheless, Occidental has had bona fide competition this season. The Tigers beat UC Santa Barbara, a Division I school, and UC Riverside (Division II). They were beaten by San Diego State and Fresno State, both Division I teams, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the defending Division II national champion.

Occidental has qualified eight men and seven women for the Division III championships, which will be held in May.

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A patsy no longer: The newly-formed volleyball team at Pater Noster High is 5-3, 3-1 in Heritage League play.

Though the team’s record is hardly overwhelming, it represents a marked improvement over the school’s previous attempts at organized athletics this season. The Eagles won two basketball games and one preseason football game.

“Football seems to be the criteria for the athletic program’s success around here but we’re getting some (attention),” Coach Jamshid Minwalla said. “I’d like to think there is some kind of positive note coming out of it.”

The team is led by Allan Dichosa, who averages 27 kills a game, and Martin Salinas, who averages a team-high 32 assists.

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Aced by anger: For those familiar with Tom Leonard, a resident of Glendale, the outcome of the men’s singles final Sunday in the 55th Southern California Sectional Tennis Championships was not unusual.

Leonard, known for his volatile temper, lost to Rollin Rhone, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Leonard did not take the court for the final game of the third set and was assessed a game penalty. Leonard did not finish the set because, he says, Rhone was “cheating, stalling, and pulling gamesmanship.”

Leonard claims Rhone was playing distracting mind games for much of the match.

Said Leonard: "(Rhone) had two balls to serve with and the other ball might have been way over on my side of the court and he wouldn’t play until he had the third ball. Play is supposed to be continuous. I’d be standing there to serve and he’s standing there straightening his strings out.”

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According to the U. S. Tennis Assn., the match was official. If Leonard had been thrown out by the umpire, he would have lost by default. If a player informs the umpire that he can no longer continue playing, he loses by retirement.

Leonard said he was unmoved by the loss.

“A little medal doesn’t mean that much to me,” he said. “I just want to play tennis. That probably meant more to (Rhone) than anything he’s ever won in his life.”

Leonard, however, did not go home empty-handed. He and partner Tom Edlefson won the doubles title for their division.

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