Norman Dane Vaughan, Kerry Packer, Formula 1, 2005

Norman Dane Vaughan, Antarctic Explorer, Dies at 100

Al Grillo/Associated Press

Norman Vaughan, a dedicated dog sled racer, arriving in Nome, Alaska, with his team five years ago near the end of the 800-mile Serum Run 25.

December 27, 2005
Norman Dane Vaughan, Antarctic Explorer, Dies at 100
By WOLFGANG SAXON

Norman Vaughan, a legendary Alaskan explorer and dog sled racer, and the last surviving member of Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica in 1928-30, died Friday at a hospital in Anchorage. He was 100.

The death was confirmed by the Providence Alaska Medical Center.

To mark his 89th birthday, in 1994, Mr. Vaughan climbed an icy 10,302-feet peak about 250 miles short of the South Pole that Byrd had named Mount Vaughan in his honor. His wife, Carolyn Muegge-Vaughan, who was 52 at the time, accompanied him on the eight-day climb.

Filmed by a cameraman-producer from the National Geographic "Explorer" series, Larry Engel, his exploit became the focus of a documentary, "Height of Courage," first shown in 1995. It was a feat Mr. Vaughan had had in mind for 66 years; a first attempt a year earlier ended with a supply-plane crash and the loss of four of his dogs.

In Alaska, his adopted home state, he was known as the Colonel and was celebrated for having completed the Iditarod, the punishing annual dog sled race, 13 times despite injuries that would have daunted far younger contestants. He had made his debut on that 1,160-mile trans-Alaska run in 1976, when he was almost a septuagenarian.

In 1997, at age 92, he founded what became the 800-mile Norman Vaughan Serum Run 25, a memorial to the winter of 1925, when diphtheria struck the town of Nome. Relay teams of mushers raced nonstop from Nenana in central Alaska to Nome on the Seward Peninsula with the serum that fought the deadly outbreak.

Norman Dane Vaughan had his moment in the national limelight when he joined Byrd, then a celebrated aviator, for his first ground incursion into terra incognita, the forbidding polar region known as the Ross Ice Shelf. He had grown up comfortably in Boston, a graduate of Milton Academy and a student at Harvard who was intrigued by books about the outdoors that covered, among other subjects, dog sleds.

He dropped out of college and, at 19, worked with a mission tending indigenous people in Labrador and Newfoundland, becoming a dog sled leader himself. Three years later, in 1928, he put that experience to use when, alerted by a headline – "Byrd to the South Pole" – he got himself a spot on the admiral’s team.

Byrd took him on as a dog driver, to train the animals and accompany him by dog sled over the Ross Ice Shelf to find a place for his base camp, Little America. Mr. Vaughan then helped in sledding hundreds of tons of supplies from ship to camp and transporting team members over hundreds of miles of frozen wilderness in search of specimens for their research.

Mr. Vaughan later worked as an advertising executive, a snowmobile dealer, a ski instructor and a sled-dog trainer and racer in Alaska, where he became a celebrity and was inducted into the Mushers Hall of Fame upon completion of his final Iditarod run at 84. In World War II, he was a search and rescue specialist for the Army Air Forces.

Mr. Vaughan was married four times. Besides his wife, Carolyn, he is survived by a son, Jerry; a daughter, Jackie Lee; a sister, Janice Snow; 5 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Vaughan told of his adventures in two books, "With Byrd at the Bottom of the World: The South Pole Expedition of 1928-1930" (Stackpole Books, 1990), written with Cecil B. Murphey; and "My Life of Adventure" (Stackpole, 1995), with Mr. Murphey as well.

"I put foot on rock that had never been seen or touched before by humans," he told The New York Times Magazine in 1999. "We went into mountains beyond the curvature of earth, into land where nobody else had been. When we got home, Admiral Byrd named a mountain in the Antarctic after me. I told him that one day I would go back to climb it, and he said, ‘Norman, I think you will.’ "

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Kerry Packer, 68, Australia’s Media Magnate, Is Dead

Kerry Packer

December 27, 2005
Kerry Packer, 68, Australia’s Media Magnate, Is Dead
By JOHN SHAW

Kerry Packer, who became Australia’s richest man by turning a magazine and television inheritance worth millions into a diverse business worth billions, died yesterday in Sydney. He was 68.

His death was reported by his family. The Associated Press reported Mr. Packer had been plagued by ill health.

Through his company, Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd., Mr. Packer controlled Australia’s most popular television network and a magazine empire, as well as having an interest in several casinos. His fortune was estimated at $5 billion.

There were some common points in the careers of Mr. Packer and the even richer Australian-born publisher Rupert Murdoch. Both inherited media companies. Their fathers, Sir Frank Packer and Sir Keith Murdoch, were awarded British titles for their newspaper industry achievements. Their sons multiplied their legacies into huge fortunes, sometimes as rivals, sometimes as partners.

Unlike Mr. Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation, who built that global enterprise from a single newspaper in Australia, Kerry Packer had national rather than global horizons. He once had a polo stable in Britain, made some profitable investments in the United States, employed several American executives and had a TV stake in India, but otherwise Australia was his focus.

In the era of globalization he was an economic nationalist. One exception was his use of offshore finance havens to minimize personal taxation, a practice he defended as legitimate in the face of parliamentary and media scrutiny. This income allowed a lavish lifestyle, with personal aircraft, an oceangoing motor yacht, a private polo field and golf course, mansions and cattle ranches.

He was often successful in lobbying Australian governments to shape media legislation to benefit his companies but was usually not able to persuade them to change laws to permit him to control newspapers as well as a TV network.

Eager to surpass his father’s success, Mr. Packer was a tireless deal maker despite illnesses and disabilities that might have defeated others.

He suffered poliomyelitis as a child and was afflicted by dyslexia, which limited his education at private boarding schools. Mr. Packer lost a kidney to cancer at the age of 40, and in 1990 while playing polo he suffered a heart attack. He underwent kidney and cardiac surgery in 1998, and two years later required a kidney transplant, receiving an organ donated by his pilot.

"We are the best of friends," the pilot, Nick Ross, said. Mr. Ross, a former British Royal Navy flier who piloted helicopters for Mr. Packer for more than 20 years and was a regular companion, said, "Kerry comes across as larger than life. To some he’s an ogre. The truth is that he’s a very kind person who has got where he is by being tough."

Mr. Ross’s donation led Mr. Packer to give a rare TV interview to express his gratitude. Choosing a noncommercial station rather than his own Nine Network he said: "Imagine having a friend good enough to do that. There are so few people in the world who’d do it. It is the most precious gift anyone can give."

Mr. Packer reputedly had few close friends, and was known for a formidably competitive and abrasive personality, which he often displayed as a negotiator in business deals and in litigation.

His biographer, Paul Barry, whose research was opposed by Mr. Packer’s lawyers, wrote that some sources "described him as the rudest and most frightening man they’ve ever met."

He was also known for generosity, however, giving employees expensive Christmas gifts and paying large bills for workers facing sickness or debt, and was considered a lavish tipper at the Las Vegas casinos and London clubs where he frequently played high-stakes games.

His biggest winning gamble was selling his TV network for almost $500 million in 1987 and buying it back from its bankrupt owners for about $100 million in 1990.

Mr. Packer gave no attention to the arts or education – his personal pursuits were polo, golf and gambling – but he donated significantly to the Australian hospitals and medical researchers he came to know in his treatments.

Mr. Packer’s bold personality and business drive apparently derived from the example of his father, whom he succeeded in 1974.

The elder son, Clyde, left the family company in 1972 after personal and editorial disputes with Sir Frank and settled in 1975 in Santa Barbara, Calif. He died there in 2001.

In contrast to the mix of neglect and bullying that Kerry Packer endured from his father – including beatings with a polo whip, which he described in a 1979 interview – he had a warm relationship with his only son, James, who succeeded him in 2000 as head of the media and gambling companies.

One of Mr. Packer’s legacies is the revolution he brought to the British sport of cricket. In 1977-78, he thrust the game into the world of satellite TV, hiring star players away from traditional teams to play international challenge matches under lights. The cricket world condemned him at first but later adopted his changes.

He is survived by his wife, Rosalind Weedon Packer, whom he married in 1963, his son, James, and his daughter, Gretel.

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Packer: A born gambler

Kerry Packer

Packer was prepared to take on cricket’s establishment
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Thrasy Petropoulos
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport Online cricket writer
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A fiction writer would find it hard to invent a character like Kerry Packer.

He is the richest man in Australia, valued at more than AUS$3 billion.

An impulsive gambler, he is rumoured to have once lost £13.6 million in a three-day baccarat binge in Las Vegas.

And at Crockford’s, in London, where the maximum bet on any hand of blackjack is £250,000, he has been known to bet the full amount on all seven hands dealt to the table.

But then there is the story of him tipping a pub waiter who had served him food AUS$10,000 after a neighbouring hostelry had refused because it was too late.

And what of the tip that an Australian waitress is supposed to have received when Packer, who was taken by her kindness, asked her why she wasn’t at home with her husband and kids.

"Because I’ve got a mortgage to pay," she replied.

Packer with Australian Prime Minister John Howard

Packer with Australian Prime Minister John Howard

After Packer had gone, she was given an envelope within which was a cheque in her name for the sum of the mortgage.

Then there are the strokes that the 62-year-old has suffered – eight in all, and one of which left him "clinically dead" for (so legend has it) seven minutes in October 1990.

And there is the kidney donated by his helicopter pilot, British-born Nicholas Ross – "Biggles" to his long-time employer and friend.

As a child, Packer was out of school between the age of four and nine with polio, an often fatal or crippling illness in the 1940s.

Birth of an empire

Even the story of the origins of the Packer empire beggars belief.

His grandfather is said to have found a 10 shilling note in a Tasmanian street at the turn of the century and decided to put it all on a horse.

It won and he bought himself the boat fare to the mainland where he got a job as a journalist and started to build the family’s media empire.

Now the group, Publishing and Broadcasting, owns Australia’s largest casino, Melbourne’s Crown Casino, Nine Network television and 60 per cent of Australia’s magazines.

Packer owns a Melbourne casino

Gambling is a passion for Packer

His father, Frank, a hard taskmaster who often patronised Kerry in public, built up the television and publishing business.

As a visionary, however, Kerry proved to be in a class of his own.

In one inspired moment in 1987 he sold two Channel Nine TV stations to businessman Alan Bond for AUS$1 billion.

Three years later, Bond was in financial trouble and Kerry bought the stations back for a quarter of the price.

There have been frustrations and set-backs, of course.

In 1991 his attempt to increase his media empire by buying the Fairfax newspaper group foundered when members of parliament ruled that his control of the media was verging on a monopoly.

Cricket controversy

And it was another failed business bid that led to the greatest controversy cricket has known.

In 1977, frustrated at the Australian Cricket Board’s refusal to accept a AUS$1.5 million bid for the television rights to screen Australian Test matches and Sheffield Shield Cricket, he signed more than 50 cricketers to play in his own tournament.

For a while, the game was split between the establishment – the International Cricket Conference- and Packer’s World Series Cricket, with Packer cast in the role of divisive rabble-rouser.

"I’ve read a lot about Genghis Khan: he wasn’t very loveable, but he was bloody efficient," Packer is supposed to have said at the time.

Australia v South Africa (2002)

World Series Cricket pioneered the use of coloured kit

Those same administrators who viewed him as a disruptive, brash Australian now argue that he did cricket a huge service.

Coloured clothing, floodlights, white balls and uncommonly high salaries were all pejoratively referred to as Packer’s Cricketing Circus.

Twenty-five years on, they are the driving force of the game.

Money – a cool £750,000 a season to be precise – has bought him success in polo, his biggest sporting passion, with a world-class team, Ellerston.

But it is as a personality – a very rich one – that Packer will be remembered.

Uncomfortable with the attention a stranger was receiving from a waitress at a casino, Packer turned to the gentleman and asked why his presence was causing such a stir.

"I’m worth US$100 million," bragged the oilman.

" Really. $100 million?" said Packer, pretending to be impressed.

"Yes I am sir," grinned the oilman.

"I’ll toss you for it," Packer replied.

The oilman walked away.

Formula 1 2005

Formula One in 2005 was about not only about the battle between Renault and McLaren, but it was also about the rise of Toyota and the fall of Ferrari. In addition to that, BAR-Honda and Williams both struggled big time, while by the end Jordan, Minardi and Sauber were all no more, to be replaced, respectively by Midland MF1 Racing, Toro Rosso and BMW Sauber. Red Bull Racing also came into the sport and added some ‘fizz’. But did they give the sport ‘wings’?

Over to Crash.net columnist, Mark Blundell as he continues his look back on 2005Â…

Q:

Mark, looking at the teams, if you had to pick out your top five, who would they be and why?

Mark Blundell:

Renault I think number 1, because of their progression to get to the top of tree within the F1 circus. They built a great car, in terms of pace and reliability – it was bullet proof in many respects when it counted as such. They also elevated themselves to a level where they were there with a supreme amount of confidence and that showed.

McLaren would be second, because they really did turn something on mid-way through the year and got their car working. The outright pace was sensational. The team in itself were on song and knew what they needed to achieve. You have to look at it and say they went for it as opposed to dragging there heels and trying to make the gap smaller, as we would expect with McLaren – they never rest and you actually feel they are always giving 100 per cent to get where they need to be.

Toyota would be third because of their improvement – and the successful results that they achieved over the course of the season. We have seen it over the last a couple of seasons some inspirational drives and results, but they really did become a solid factor.

You would have to still put Ferrari in there fourth because of their consistency. Although the pace was out the door, the durability was still there – and they remained a threat in many areas for those mid-result pickings.

I’m not sure who I would put for fifth – tough oneÂ… [pause]. No I don’t know who I would put fifth!

Q:

Which team disappointed you most this year – Williams, Ferrari or BAR?

MB:

BAR to be honest in terms of disappointment over what we were expecting, because they had come off such a strong year last year and we all felt they would go to the next stage and it never happened – and it never had any inkling of it happening.

Meantime we had the likes of Renault, Toyota and McLaren accelerating themselves away from the rest of the pack and Ferrari dropped into the clutches of the mid-to-high teams but BAR never capitalised on that either. So BAR were probably the biggest disappointment in many ways.

Q:

Which team surprised you most this year? Toyota or Red Bull?

MB:

I would have to say Red Bull, because they were a team which had a lot of changes, when you look back over the year when it all came about. There was a lot of management changes, there was new people brought in, experience levels were not there at that point in time at that sort of level in the sport and they went about it in a fresh way. They came on the scene with a lot to offer and they produced a great deal. They showed if you can just keep some basics in place and just keep yourself consistent and keep your focus, then there is a lot to go racing with and that is what they have did.

Q:

F1 effectively lost three teams at the end of ’05 – Minardi, Jordan and Sauber, which one will you miss most?

MB:

Well you would sort of look at Jordan and go that would be a big miss, because of the charisma of the team itself and the former owner, Eddie Jordan being at the helm. But he has kind of been out of the loop for the year anyway.

Minardi is a shame in many ways because they have always been there and they have always been in the same position more or less, but you could trust they would always turn up weekend in and weekend out. In terms of commitment you have to say for a small little outfit they really did give it there all to make sure they still went racing.

Sauber are still going to be there in name to a certain extent and the infrastructure of the team is still in place. It is more of a merger situation with the new BMW acquisition coming on. So they are not going to be missed completely at this point – they have still got their name around in lights for the forthcoming season.

Q:

The calendar again expanded in 2006 when it went up to 19 races. There seems to be a trend that it keeps increasingÂ… we’ve seen it go from 16, to 17, to 18, now to 19 in recent years. Can it go on?

MB:

I think it can go on if everybody allows it. I’m sure that Bernie Ecclestone would like another race – or a couple more races, because I’m sure he has got market places to fill. But I don’t think that the teams and the personnel can withstand the strain of it, because it is a real toll on the personnel. The travel side is hectic to say the least. But it is great to be in a situation where you have got other opportunities to go and race throughout world. At some point maybe there will be some of the other people that have been around for a long time on the calendar dropping off to fulfil those obligations.

Turkey was a new race obviously. It was a great circuit – very good for racing and the drivers were walking around with big smiles on their faces. It was another new facility, which set high standards and it is definitely the face of things to come as far as circuit design goes. [Hermann] Tilke’s design of that track was his best so far.

Overall we were quite comfortable with the amount of races but in some ways it would be better to have a couple less but I’m sure that there is going to be more as we go on!

Q:

Of all the races in ’05, the Japanese Grand Prix has to stand out as the ‘best’ of the year doesn’t itÂ… if not the best for a number of years?

MB:

I think that would be a fair comment. The Japanese Grand Prix would be right there at number one and the US Grand Prix would be right back there at number 19 in terms of what the scale of the grand’s prix were [from best to worst].

The Japanese Grand Prix was edge of the seat stuff – sensational viewing, great driving from the contenders and just an action packed race. It was something which really said what F1 is all about. If we could produce that at every grand prix I don’t think there would be many people not being able to watch it, because it was pure entertainment.

If we went to the other side and looked at the US GP, we would have to give that the complete thumbs down because that wasn’t entertainment by any means. It is something we desperately don’t want to repeat again. A lot of people have taken flake for it – and there was a lot of issues that got covered up and a lot of things that stood out that will have to be addressed in the future. At this stage it has had a big impact on US market place and F1 didn’t come out looking very good. Hopefully that can get improved upon when we turn up there in 2006.

Q:

In the tyre war, Michelin had the edge. A big contrast to previous yearsÂ…

MB:

Michelin had the edge overall and a well deserved edged, because they played it right in many ways. Bridgestone were slightly off-kilter and the Ferrari-Bridgestone affair was a little bit lacking, because they relied heavily on Ferrari to develop the tyres with them and they got caught out slightly. I think that was costly to the manufacturers’ on both sides whether it be tyre or chassis, because they were slightly behind the eight ball and they never really caught up. So, overall Michelin did the job.

Next year will be slightly different as a few teams are swapping around in terms of who they are positioned with. It will be interesting and I will be eager to see whether the Japanese/Bridgestone pull something out.

Q:

Next year it could be very different couldn’t it in terms of who wins the tyre war – especially considering the fact the regulations will change and will probably be more ‘Bridgestone friendly’ now that tyres won’t have to do a whole grand prix?

MB:

Yeah, I mean there is going to be some definite differences in terms of the character of races full stop. Again we are thrown into a different area. Bridgestone would be the people you would put your money on to have the better tyre in those conditions in that sort of race. But don’t underestimate Michelin – they are not silly by any means and their credentials and results over the years have shown what they can do and they are going into next year as champions of the tyre manufacturers’, sort of speak. So yeah, it will be very interesting.

Q:

How much do you think Bridgestone will be boosted by the addition of Toyota and Williams, two ‘proper’ teams helping Ferrari to develop the tyres?

MB:

They will be boosted, because they will have a lot more data coming through. Those teams have got resources to go and get the testing done what they need and they have good quality drivers and personnel. It is all about information gathering and getting it as quickly as possible. It will step up from a one tiered stream of information at the level they require, into three of those. So it will make a difference.

Coming next week: The third and final part of Mark Blundell’s 2005 F1 season

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