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Walter Cronkite's First and Last Race Around the Track
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Walter Cronkite's First and Last Race Around the Track

After Walter Cronkite had returned from the World War II battlegrounds, he and his wife lived in home that was located in a New Jersey community. Because Cronkite worked in New York City, he rode the train to work every day. Each day the train took the reporter past a car dealership, one that sold sports cars and race cars.

Every week day, during the time when the train passed that one dealership, Cronkite’s eyes would focus on one particular vehicle. That vehicle was a red Austin Healey that featured what appeared to be a sale price. At that time, Walter did not have any extra cash to spend on the red, four-wheeled luxury.

Normally, all the money that Walter earned from speaking engagements went to his agent. Then one day, the money that he had earned by speaking to an audience appeared in the Cronkites’ own mailbox. The reporter that had yearned for a red sports car knew instantly just how he wanted to spend that added bit of cash.

The next day, on the way home, Walter walked off the train at the exit where he had seen the car of his dreams. He walked into the car dealership at that same exit, and he sought out a salesman. When he discovered that the car’s total price, including the cost of the license plate, was higher than he had anticipated, he called upon his bargaining skills. Eventually, Walter and the salesman reached an agreement on a price, and the salesman took Cronkite’s check.

Walter Cronkite walked out of the dealership holding the keys to an Austin Healey. In fact, before he had gone from the dealership’s lot, he had those same keys in the ignition of the car he had just purchased. That night, he made it home in record time, because he was able to drive home in his new, sporty automobile.

Not long after Cronkite’s purchase of the Austin Healey, he chose to be a spectator at a car racetrack. He got talking with the owner, and he boasted about his sporty new possession. The owner invited him to take a drive around the track in his new set of wheels.

Walter accepted the track owner’s offer. He revved up the engine of his pride and joy, and he began to drive around the course that had been created for the professional drivers. Yet each time that he maneuvered around a corner, he heard a squealing sound. Still, the car’s wheels kept turning, so he just kept going. Only after the reporter had gotten out of his automobile did he discover what had been causing the squealing sound.

Those friends and spectators that had been watching him told him what had happened each time that he had made his way around a curve. He had gone so fast that the outer wheels of his vehicle had lifted off of the surface. The raised wheels kept spinning, and thus produced that squealing sound. Never again did Walter Cronkite try driving his sporty car on a racetrack.




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