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Names in The Game

July 13, 1992

STAUNTON, Ill. (AP) _ Europe has the Tour de France bike race and Southern Illinois has the Tour de Donut, a 30-mile event in which cyclists can literally eat their way to victory.

John January downed a dozen doughnuts to win Saturday’s event with an adjusted clocking of 50 minutes.

″I think I found my event,″ said January, 35. ″I’m a mediocre runner, a mediocre biker and a lousy swimmer, but I’m great at eating doughnuts.″

For every doughnut consumed during two 10-minute breaks, racers subtract five minutes from their overall time. January’s actual time was 1 hour, 50 minutes, but the dozen donuts he ate chopped an hour off that total.

John Donjoian of Granite City finished first in the riding portion with a time of 1:30, but he ate only one doughnut.

The Mid-America Bicycle Club in Alton launched the spoof four years ago to coincide with Europe’s three-week Tour de France.

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LEVEL CROSS, N.C. (AP) - Tens of thousands of fans turned out this weekend to greet stock car driver Richard Petty at a charity benefit organized by his fan club. In cars, pickup trucks and motor homes, they came from all over to celebrate Petty’s 35th Anniversary Open House in Level Cross, near High Point.

It was a chance to get an autograph, take a picture and tour the place where Petty grew up. It also was a chance to say thanks to the all-time leading driver, who is retiring after 35 seasons and 200 victories.

The line started forming at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. By 8 a.m. cars were backed up a mile on U.S. 220, and the autograph line stretched 3 miles, snaking through the scrubby pines on the Petty homestead.

At 9 a.m., Petty roared across the lawn on a Harley Davidson and up to the porch of his parents’ house. Wearing snakeskin boots, blue jeans, a white shirt and black sunglasses, he swapped his helmet for his trademark cowboy hat.

Sitting on a custom-made sofa fashioned after the tail end of his No. 43 blue-and-red Pontiac, and with three boxes holding a dozen felt-tip markers each, Petty went to work signing the name many say popularized auto racing.

″They say he’s signed more autographs than anyone in the world,″ said Vance Gibson of Oak Ridge, N.C. ″Even Elvis Presley.″

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City outfielder Gary Thurman, tired of waiting for a chance at a full-time job and embarrassed by what he perceives as his latest indignity, has demanded to be traded by the Kansas City Royals.

Thurman, a right-handed hitter, was in the starting lineup Sunday when Milwaukee started left-hander Bruce Ruffin. When Ruffin failed to get any of the first six hitters out, however, he was removed and so was Thurman.

″I think it’s embarrassing to me,″ said Thurman, who was pulled in favor of pinch-hitter Jim Eisenreich. ″I don’t know what I have to do in this organization to get some playing time. I just want to play. And obviously it’s not going to be here.″

Thurman has been to bat 103 times this season. He has 25 hits, including three doubles and three triples, is batting .243 and has driven oin 11 runs.

″I’ve always cooperated in this organization,″ he said. ″But I think it’s time for me to make a move. My career is going nowhere here.″

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