Ten Diamond Cup races for unlimited hydroplanes were held between 1958 and 1968. No race was held in 1967. The race course was on beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene, in the Idaho panhandle. The pits were located between Templin's Motel and Sherman Avenue*. Enthusiastic crowds of "hydro-nuts" would occupy Tubbs Hill for the best spectator viewing. We will endeavor to recap the highlights of the races as follows:
1958: Bill Stead drove William T. Waggoner's U-12 Maverick to an impressive win in the inaugural Diamond Cup contest, besting Brien Wygle in Thriftway Too, Dallas Sartz aboard Miss Spokane, and Miss U.S. I, driven by Fred Alter. Miss Thriftway and Bill Muncey were never in contention during the winner-take-all Final Heat due to sponson damage. Other entries of interest in the preliminary heats included Miss Seattle, Chuck Hickling; Bill Brow and Dick Short who shared the Miss Burien ride; Adios, George McKernan; Miss Bardahl, Mira Slovak; Coral Reef, Harry Reeves; and Miss Pay 'n Save with driver Al Benson.
1959: Duplicating the feat of her predecessor, the new Waggoner U-00 Maverick and driver Bill Stead captured this accident-marred contest. The first two heats were run on Saturday. Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway won Heat 1-A in a thriller over Jack Regas and Miss Bardahl. In Heat I-B Maverick won over Miss U.S. I, driven by Don Wilson. In Heat 2-A Bill Brow's Miss Burien hooked badly, lost a sponson, and sank and the heat was re-run. Heat 2-B went to Brien Wygle aboard Hawaii Kai III who out-dueled Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway.
In the re-run of Heat 2-A Jack Regas and Miss Bardahl hit a wall of water, and coasted to a stop. The unconscious driver was rushed to a hospital, with a brain concussion, severe facial cuts, and broken ribs. The heat was called a contest on the basis of three laps. Maverick was first, Norm Evans and the Miss Spokane were second, and Nitrogen and Don Dunnington took third. The Final Heat was a battle royal between Miss Thriftway, Maverick, and Miss Spokane. Stead and Muncey held first and second for a lap; then Evans made a devil-may-care move inside and gained the lead. On lap four Miss Spokane caught a sponson, spun out, and Evans was pitched from the cockpit. Red flares caused the heat to be called official on the basis of completion of three laps. Miss Thriftway and Maverick tied with 1000 points each, and a 1.8 second advantage in elapsed time gave Stead his second straight Diamond Cup.
1960: Norm Evans and Dallas Sartz co-drove Miss Seattle Too to top honors. Evans won Saturday's Heat I-A, then departed and flew East to drive in the Harmsworth Trophy competition. Rex Manchester in Miss Spokane was second and Ray Crawford aboard $ Bill came in third. Ron Musson and Joe Mascari's Hawaii Kai won.Heat 1-B in a great duel with Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway. Chuck Hickling and Miss Burien were third, and Jim McGuire and Miss Bardahl came in fourth. Dallas Sartz took over the Miss Seattle Too, and won Heat 2-A over the Kai, Bob Gilliam's KOLroy I, and $ Bill. Miss Thriftway won the fastest heat of the race in 2-B. defeating Miss Burien and Miss Bardahl.
Miss Seattle Too, the Kai and Miss Thriftway all had a shot at the cup as the Final Heat began. Miss Burien took an early lead when Thriftway went dead in the water. Hawaii Kai did not finish due to losing a prop. Miss Burien won the finale but a second-place finish for Miss Seattle Too put a jubilant Dallas Sartz into the winner's circle. Miss Burien placed second over-all. Miss Thriftway was able to re-start, finished fourth in the heat and third over-all.
1961: Bill Muncey scored 1200 perfect points to defeat five other entries with Miss Century 21 (the former Miss Thriftway, re-named to publicize the Seattle World's Fair). Other results in order of finish were Miss Spokane, Rex Manchester; Cutie Radio, Billy Schumacher; Miss Burien, Chuck Hickling; Miss Seattle Too, Dallas Sartz; and Fascination, Bob Gilliam.
1962: The fifth annual Diamond Cup was won for the second consecutive year by the odds-on favorite, Miss Century 21 driven by Bill Muncey. Colonel Russ Schleeh and Tahoe Miss won Heat I-A, followed by Such Crust IV, Fred Alter; Gale VII, Bob Schroeder; Miss B & I, Bob Miller; and $ Bill, Rex Manchester. Tempest, with Chuck Hickling driving, did not finish.
Two new hulls competed in Heat I-B, Miss Bardahl, driven by Ron Musson, and Shirley McDonald's Notre Dame, with driver Warner Gardner. Miss Century 21 won the heat, followed by Gale V, Bill Cantrell; Miss Seattle Too, Bill Brow; Miss U.S. I. Don Wilson; and Notre Dane. The Bardahl threw a rod and scored a DNF.
Tempest won Heat 2-A, defeating Notre Dame, Tahoe Miss, Miss U.S. I, Gale VII, and $ Bill. Heat 2-B was taken by Miss Century 21. After exchanging positions as often as three times a lap, Miss Seattle Too nosed out Miss Bardahl for second. Gale V battled Miss Century 21 early in the heat, only to expire with a burned gearbox bearing.
Tempest led the Final Heat for two laps, with Tahoe Miss and Miss Century 21 scorching behind in second and third. Such Crust IV, Miss Seattle Too, and Notre Dame trailing. Miss Century 21, responding to the skill and tactics of pilot Bill Muncey, pulled into second, then finally into first place. The Final Heat ended with Century 21 the winner, followed by Tempest, Miss Seattle Too, Such Crust IV, Tahoe Miss, and Notre Dame. Point totals brought this final order: Miss Century 21, Tahoe Miss, Seattle Too, Tempest, Such Crust, and Notre Dame.
1963: Spectacular competitive racing and a near-tragedy marked the sixth running of the Diamond Cup. Bill Muncey and Miss Thriftway turned back repeated challenges to earn his third consecutive Idaho victory. Mira Slovak was hospitalized when Miss Exide disintegrated during a Final-heat duel with Thriftway. The Exide, competing in only her second race, was a total loss. Miss Exide had earlier won Heat I-A, defeating Tahoe Miss, Chuck Thompson; Miss Eagle Electric, Rex Manchester; Tempest, Chuck Hickling; and Fascination, Bob Gilliam. A superb race between Miss Thriftway and Miss Bardahl, with Ron Musson driving, highlighted Heat 1-B. Bardahl then broke a connecting rod, scoring a DNF. The heat order of finish was Thriftway first; $ Bill, Norm Evans in second; and Tempo, Bob Schroeder third. Warner Gardner took Heat 1-C driving Notre Dame, while Fascination I and Bob Gilliam finished second. A broken supercharger drive gear in Gale V sent Bill Cantrell to the pits early, and a balky carburetor retired Fred Alter in Mariner Too.
In Heat 2-A Miss Exide out-sprinted the field, defeating Tempest, Tempo, $ Bill, and Fascination. Miss Eagle Electric DNF'D when some aluminum peeled off the bottom and wrapped around the shaft. Only Miss Thriftway was able to finish Heat 2-B, as various woes struck Miss Bardahl, Gale V, Tahoe Miss, and Notre Dame. The Final Heat had to be re-run due to the Exide accident, and Tempest and $ Bill battled the entire five laps. Hickling nipped Evans by two lengths at the finish; Tempo was third, Notre Dame fourth, and Miss Thriftway came in fifth.
Needing only to finish the Final Heat to win the Diamond Cup on total points, Muncey seemingly "coasted" to fifth place finish. That was not the case. Thriftway's engine was "running on borrowed time". A closely guarded secret before the final heat was the news that her engine had two "torched" cylinders, and time was running out on the other ten.
1964: Bill Brow and Miss Exide defeated Ron Musson and Miss Bardahl in two out of three match-ups and topped a field of 13 thunderboats. Miss Eagle Electric, the host boat from nearby Spokane, Washington, gave the partisan crowd a thrill when driver Norm Evans won Heat I-A. Mariner Too with Warner Gardner scored a second, while Jerry Schoenith in Gale V, Jim Fyle in Savair's Mist, and Billy Schumacher in $ Bill trailed. The Exide defeated the Bardahl in Heat 1-B, followed by Miss Budweiser with Bob Schroeder, and Fascination with Bob Gilliam. Miss Madison and Buddy Byers took Heat 1-C after Bill Muncey driving Notre Dame and Chuck Thompson in Tahoe Miss both jumped the gun. Notre Dame placed second, and Tahoe Miss did not finish, nor did Bill Cantrell aboard Miss Smirnoff.
Thompson drove Tahoe Miss to the fastest lap and heat of the regatta in taking Heat 2-A while defeating Madison, $ Bill, Budweiser, Notre Dame, and Savair's Mist. In Heat 2-B it was Musson's turn to settle an earlier defeat, driving Miss Bardahl to victory over Miss Exide after jumping to an early lead with a near-perfect start. Eagle Electric was third, Mariner Too was fourth, and Gale V and Fascination did not finish.
Entering the Final Heat Exide, Bardahl, and Madison were tied with 700 points while Eagle Electric followed with 625. Any one of these could take the Cup by winning the finale. Bardahl took the lead up the first back-stretch. Suddenly Brow poured the nitrous oxide to Miss Exide and shot into the lead. An intense duel followed for three laps, only a roostertail separating the two hydros. Brow hung on for the win, narrowly defeating Musson by .437 m.p.h.
1965: Miss Exide and Bill Brow posted their second consecutive Diamond Cup victory amid torrid duels between the Exide, defending National Champion Miss Bardahl and Notre Dame. Heat 1-A was won by crafty veteran "Wild" Bill Cantrell and Miss Smirnoff. Warner Gardner was second in Mariner Too, and 20-year-old rookie Rex Bixby brought $ Bill in third. Buddy Byers drove Miss Madison to fourth place, Chuck Hickling and the four-seater Miss Budweiser were fifth, and Savair's Mist, driven by Red Loomis, was sixth. At the end of one lap of Heat 1-B three boats, Notre Dame, Bardahl, and Exide, were virtually dead even. Exide kept the lead for good after two laps, behind Brow, a great driving duel raged between Notre Dame's Rex Manchester and Bardahl's Ron Musson, with the Hibernian Hydro barely nipping the Green Dragon by a boat length. Jerry Schoenith and Gale's Roostertail did not finish, and Chuck Thompson and Tahoe Miss did not start.
Heat 2-A produced another fine battle between Exide and Bardahl. Bill Brow won his second heat of the race, followed by Bardahl, Mariner Too, and Savair's Mist. $ Bill and Gale's Roostertail did not start. In Heat 2-B Bill Cantrell led the field until Miss Smirnoff's supercharger "blew", yielding the lead to Notre Dame who came home first. Miss Budweiser was second, Miss Madison was third, Smirnoff did not finish, and Tahoe Miss was again unable to start.
Going into the Final Heat Miss Exide held a 100-point lead over the Notre Dame. Rather than risk everything, Brow drove to a conservative third place position in the heat, winning the race by 25 points over Notre Dame. Miss Bardahl took first place in the Final, Notre Dame was second, Miss Exide was third, Miss Madison came in fourth, Miss Budweiser scored a fifth, and Mariner Too was sixth. One other unlimited, not previously mentioned, watched the race from the pits, Bob Fendler's unqualified Miss San Diego.
1966: Mira Slovak and Tahoe Miss scored 1200 perfect points in a Diamond Cup whose Final Heat was run in near-darkness, the final boat of the Final Heat crossing the finish line at 8:10 p.m. The event was probably run under the darkest conditions ever. One of the drivers remarked, "I steered by the headlights of the boats on the backstretch. The cruisers had all their lights burning". Besides three heat wins for Tahoe Miss, Chuck Hickling in $ Bill, Warner Gardner in Miss Lapeer, and Bill Cantrell in Smirnoff won preliminary heats.
The overall final standings for the race were:
- Tahoe Miss
- Miss Budweiser, Bill Brow
- Miss Lapeer
- Wayfarer's Club Lady, Bob Fendler
- Miss Dixi Cola, Fred Alter
- $ Bill
- My Gypsy, Jim Ranger
- Miss Madison, Jim McCormick
- Miss Chrysler Crew, Bill Sterett
- Miss Tri-Cities, Bob Miller
- Savair's Mist, Walt Kade
Red Loomis in Savair's Probe and Bob Gilliam in Hilton Hy-Per-Lube failed to score points.
1967: There was no Diamond Cup race held in 1967. Newspaper accounts blamed the decision to not hold a contest on "continued student riots during race week". Race officials and city fathers, with an infusion of assistance from the Spokane area, decided to revive the race for 1968.
1968: Billy Schumacher and the "Checkerboard Comet" Miss Bardahl won the tenth and final Diamond Cup race for unlimited hydroplanes. Gusty winds forced repeated postponements of the preliminary heats, again sending the Final Heat off into near darkness. Rookie Tommy Fults drove My Gypsy to a second-place finish in the 13-boat field. Matched with Miss Bardahl in Heat 2-C, the former drag-car racer proved his driving skill by defeating the Bardahl in a thrilling five-lap duel. Fults' lap speed and heat clocking were the fastest of the day.
Host boat Miss Eagle Electric of Spokane, driven by Warner Gardner, won two preliminary heats. Bill Sterett in Miss Budweiser, Leif Borgersen in Notre Dame, Miss Bardahl, and My Gypsy also won preliminary heats. Schumacher out-distanced Miss Budweiser and My Gypsy in the Final Heat to earn the win. Notre Dame came in fourth in the Final and Miss Eagle Electric's bid for victory was erased when a supercharger failed at the initial turn of the final heat.
Final standings and point totals for 1968:
- Miss Bardahl, 1100
- My Gypsy, 925
- Miss Budweiser, 925
- Miss Eagle Electric, 800
- Notre Dame, 794
- Savair's Mist, Walt Kade, 525
- Atlas Van Lines, Bob Miller, 450
- Miss U.S., Bill Muncey, 300
- Smirnoff, Dean Chenoweth, 300
- Gale's Roostertail, Bill Cantrell, 300
- Fascination, Bob Gilliam, 169
Harrah's Club, Jim McCormick, and Parco's O-Ring Miss, Fred Alter did not score points.
On April 29th, 1969, Race Chairman Tracy Petersen announced cancellation of the Diamond Cup, citing high costs and falling interest. The trophy itself was later awarded at a feature race at a local horse race track. Diamonds aren't forever!
(References and research credits: A.P.B.A. summary sheets, Phil Jursek, Fred Farley, David Greene, E.K. Muller, Yachting magazine, Bob Carver, Eileen Crimmin, Bob Brinton, Unlimited Hydroplane News.)
(Reprinted with permission from the Unlimited NewsJournal March 1984)
* Steve Shepperd was kind enough to send in the following correction:
"The pits were located in two places over the years.and in neither case was the pit area ever between Templins and Sherman Ave. The only thing between the two were a side walk. The original pits were at the public boat launch area at the base of Third Street...one and a half blocks south of Sherman Ave. They were moved for the last race (1968) to an area on the west side of Templin's North Shore Hotel.
"The older Templins building which was nearer Sherman had been torn down by then (or at least was closed) if memory serves. The North Shore was eventually purchased by Duane Hagadone and it was incorporated in what is now the Coeur d'Alene Resort.
"There is a memorial to Col. Warner Gardner now at the Third Street boat launch site. "
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