1960 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington, DC, September 17-18, 1960

Roostertail Rhubarb Haunts Thriftway in Eastern Hydro Campaigns

Miss Thriftway Takes Boat Heat
Boat Cup is Taken by Miss Detroit
Miss Detroit Victory Upheld
Roostertail Rhubarb Haunts Thriftway in Eastern Hydro Campaigns
President's Cup Race Ends in Protest
More Power to You
Final Results

Although Bill Muncey, driver of the Seattle-bred Miss Thriftway, is cool-headed, he has been involved as the central figure in some of the most fearsome hassles in the history of hydroplaning.

The latest rhubarb came from the President’s Cup Sept. 17-18 on the Potomac River. Muncey was well on his way to winning when weird circumstance arose to cloud the whole race and throw the final decision into the hands of the 13-member Unlimited Racing Commission.

Muncey started out auspiciously at the President’s Cup, winning heat 1A. In the second heat, he had to shut off to avoid Miss Detroit, driven by Chuck Thompson, who cut across Muncey’s projected course. He lost nearly a lap before he got going again, finishing third.

In the third and final heat, it was obvious that two boats jumped the gun, with Miss Bardahl of Seattle over the line first. It was announced from the official barge that it was Bardahl and Nitrogen driven by Norm Evans. Both Bardahl and Nitrogen got the green flag after they had finished five laps, so they had to make an extra circuit, while Muncey, his affairs in perfect order, was given the checkered flag. He was the winner, but not for long, a peculiar affliction that he can’t seem to avoid no matter where he races.

Back at the judges’ stand a photo taken during the start of the last heat showed Miss Bardahl jumping the gun on the outside, with the other boats obscured in the spray. Therefore, it is reported that referee E.M. Peatross reversed his decision and ruled that Nitrogen had won the heat. This put Miss Thriftway in second place rather than first for the heat, reduced her point score, and threw the race to Miss Detroit.

Owner of Thriftway, Willard Rhodes, together with Bardahl and Nitrogen, entered a protest on the decision. As evidence, they submitted a movie film by Tele-News, which had been taken from a spectator boat on the infield of the course and which clearly. Showed both Miss Bardahl and Miss Detroit jumping the gun, Rhodes said upon returning to Seattle.

However, the race official based their decision on a blurred photo which did not show the position of any of the boats other than Miss Bardahl, which admittedly jumped the gun, a photo which was inconclusive evidence, Rhodes said.

If the APBA official decided that either Nitrogen or Miss Detroit also jumped the gun, the Thriftway wins the race. Rhodes believes that 1960 is the year that the APBA must provide better means of officiating during the unlimited hydroplane races. He has long been an advocate of having the APBA hire a professional group of officials, people who are completely unbiased, to run the various unlimited races throughout the country. They should be paid, with the race sponsors picking up the tab. Further, a better means of keeping track of the starts should be considered. It would be possible to have an official photograph of the start taken from booth sides of the course, he suggested.

The Silver Cup, run August 27 in Detroit, was won by Nitrogen Too, Sam Dupont’s boat, driven by Ron Musson. Miss Thriftway was second, suffering all day from valve trouble, Muncey could only get up to 135-mph on the straightaways.

(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, November 1960)

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Leslie Field, 2000