Valu Mart (4) — U-74
Make Mine Water
No one is more happy that the unlimited-hydroplane fleet is headed west than Bob Gilliam, the sport’s only combination owner-designer-builder-driver-mechanic. The likable Bothellite arrived in town this week, just in time to take his new unlimited, Valu-Mart for her first test run.
The inaugural cruise didn’t pan out so well. A burned-out booster coil put the blunt-nose boat back on the trailer with little more than a few coughs and sputters to show the 100 or so diehards who huddled in the rain at Stan Sayres pits yesterday. Gilliam is confident the boat will he ready for the Tri-Cities’ Atomic Cup coming up in 11 days. If the bugs can’t be worked out here, Gilliam will send the boat to Pasco early for further testing. Bill Wurster, Seattle outboard and inboard driver for several years, is scheduled to get his first unlimited ride in the V-M at Pasco.
Gilliam drove the Pizza Pete (his U-88) on the Eastern swing, and there is no love lost between the veteran driver and the river courses east of the Mississippi.
"It was like an ocean all the way," Gilliam said of last weekend’s Washington, D. C. President’s Cup on the Potomac.
"Logs, trees, houses — everything you can think of went floating by," Gilliam said. "The pits were under two feet of water a week before the race.
"Madison wasn’t any better. I think that race should have been postponed. There were chunks of debris all over the place. But when the race sponsors say ‘go,’ you go. There’s money on the line. It’s just that when conditions are that bad, nobody’s going to be at their best. A lot of people were upset with that one."
Gilliam looks for the Pay ‘n Pak, with Billy Sterett at the wheel, to be the boat to beat in the Pacific Northwest races.
"It’s got to be the No. 1 boat out here," Gilliam said. Muncey’s big boat can go through that slop back there. Out here it should be a different story."
Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines won four of five Eastern races and leads in the national high-point standings by a comfortable margin.
SPONSON SPRAY: The rumor mill, for a few days at least, had Tony Mulherin of Augusta, Ga., ‘loaning" the Hallmark Homes unlimited to the folks in Madison, Ind., for use while their home-owned craft is being repaired. Mulherin, you remember, took a one-year dip in the unlimited wars, then quickly departed. To set the record straight — the Hallmark is in a Ballard shop being readied for the Seafair Trophy Race August 6. Mulherin has leased the boat to Jerry Zuvich, former Bardahl crew chief. If a sponsor is found, Leif Borgersen will drive the U-32 in the Seafair. Bob Esplund, crew chief for the Notre Dame, answers with a big MAYBE when asked if the Shamrock Lady will be re-paired in time for the Tri-Cities’ Atomic Cup July 23. The Notre Dame, Madison and Lincoln Thrift were damaged in the Detroit Gold Cup 2½ weeks ago. The Notre Dame is getting a new sponsor and deck at Ron Jones’ California shop . . . Bellevue’s Chuck Hickling will take the Smoother Mover for a test run at 11 a. m. tomorrow, getting the Burien unlimited ready for her first 1972 competition at Tri-Cities, Barbara Gilliam, Bob’s bride of three months handled the champagne bottle for the Valu-Mart’s christening ceremony yesterday.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 12, 1972)
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