Originally created 09/30/03

Odds and Ends



ARDMORE, Pa. -- Where do you hide a $729,000 Ferrari during rush hour?

That's what police in the Philadelphia suburbs want to know, after a man drove off with a red Ferrari F50 during a test drive.

The same man may have grabbed two lower-end Ferraris from dealerships in North Carolina and New York this year, police said.

The missing Pennsylvania-based Ferrari F50 - which can hit 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and tops out at 203 mph - hasn't been seen since the Sept. 16 test drive at Algar Ferrari in Rosemont.

"One of these would attract attention anywhere, even in a crowd of Ferrari people," said Gerald Roush, who publishes a Ferrari newsletter.

Police theorize it was hustled into a trailer and quickly shipped overseas for sale on the black market.

Ferrari made just 349 of the eye-popping Italian roadsters - described by one car-enthusiast Web site as "part Batmobile, part ballistic missile" - in 1995 to commemorate its 50th anniversary. It was designed to be a street version of a Formula One race car.

The alleged thief, a nattily dressed man who claimed he had flown up from Atlanta and had a limo waiting nearby, took the test drive without producing a license. The ID, he said, was in a wallet he had left with his secretary.

Claiming to be a wealthy businessman, he had called ahead about the car and produced someone else's proof of credit, police said.

"He looked and acted rich. That's the type of clientele they get in there," said Lower Merion Detective Charles J. Craig.

* * * *

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Mr. Potato Head is missing, and police want to know who took the tourism-touting tater.

The 6-foot tall, 150-pound statue was stolen Friday from the driveway of a private estate. James Leach called police after he heard his driveway alarm sounding about 3 a.m. He looked outside and saw a vehicle near the street.

The statue was located within the gates of the 17-acre Malbone Estate which were open at the time, Leach said.

In 2000, the Rhode Island Tourism Division introduced the Mr. Potato Head figures to promote the state as a family tourist destination. After the advertising campaign, several of the statues were auctioned off on eBay, with proceeds benefiting charity.

The stolen statue was originally sponsored by the governor's office and located in the Statehouse. The popular children's toy figure is dressed in a Colonial uniform, wearing a beret with an anchor on it.

Leach bought the spud as a birthday gift for his son. Since then, many people have visited the statue or stopped to have their pictures taken with it, he said.

Police estimated its value at about $600.

"We are wondering where and when it will turn up," Leach said. "So far, no ransom note has been found."

* * * *

MORRO BAY, Calif. -- A 46-year-old skateboarding champion honored his teenage son, who died of Lowe syndrome, by boarding across the country in less than a month.

Fourteen-year-old Jack Smith Jr. died May 6 of the genetic ailment that targets only boys. Most of the 300 known patients suffer from poor vision, failing kidneys, seizures and mental retardation.

Three months after his son's death, Jack Smith Sr., set off in his son's memory. He was accompanied by longtime friends Scott Kam, 33, who runs a skateboard company, and freelance writer and photographer Nick Krest, 38. Josh Maready, 24, a North Carolina skateboard pro also took part after learning of the effort.

It took 21 days, beating the elder Smith's 1984 cross-country trek by five days. Smith also went coast-to-coast in 1976.

The group hope to raise awareness and $30,000 for the Lowe Syndrome Association.

They began in Newport, Ore., on Aug. 2, dipping their $300 skateboard back wheels in the Pacific. They ended last week in Williamsburg, Va., some 2,900 miles away.

During their trip, each man would skate a few miles while the rest rode in a van. Before the first boarder arrived at a relay point, a second would depart.

"Pretty soon, it was almost a job," Smith said.

* * * *

DALLAS -- Rich "The Locust" LeFevre is living up to his nickname.

The Nevada man ate virtually every corn dog in front of him, winning the first World Corny Dog Eating Championship on Sunday at the State Fair of Texas.

He managed to wolf down a dozen dogs in just 10 minutes. That was the best in the field of 15 big eaters.

The International Federation of Competitive Eating says it's also the world's first corny-dog-eating record.

Along with a trophy, LeFevre wins a pair of roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines and $500.

LeFevre is best known for eating 1 1/2 gallons of chili in 10 minutes.