1965 Lake Tahoe UIM World Championship Regatta
Lake Tahoe, Stateline NE, September 25, 1965 


Lake Tahoe Offered a New Look for Unlimited Racing but Still Came Up With an 'Old' Winner
Story By Eileen Crimmin
Exclusive Photos By Bob Carver

Thunderboat Pot of Gold
California Big Boat Bash
Lake Tahoe Offered a New Look for Unlimited Racing but Still Came Up With an 'Old' Winner

They called it "hydro racing's new look" and it went like this:

Out went the "cup" nickname. In came the title "World Championship Race."
Out went long waits between heats and sections. In came nine heats.
Out went heat draws. In came three separate races always fielding the same boat.
Out went between-heat activities unrelated to racing. In went lane starts between buoys anchored on the starting straight-a-way.
Out went national limitations as invitations were extended to other countries to race their unlimited in international competition. In came "the largest purse of unlimited racing's history — $60,000."

And in came sanction first by the American Power Boat Association of Detroit, Michigan, second by the Union of International Motor Boating of Brussels, Belgium.

Miss Bardahl (3), 1965 Lake Tahoe

Miss Bardahl (3)

Miss Exide (2), 1965 Lake Tahoe

Miss Exide (2)

Tahoe Miss (3) 1965 Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Miss (3)

The four days of qualifying runs preceding the Saturday Sept. 25, race produced extremely good speeds for the 6,000 foot high Lake Tahoe. U.S. 5 was the top speedster with 119.986 mph posted to remind everyone that the U.S. camp holds the world straight-a-way prop-driven speed record of 200.419mph.

Second was Miss Bardahl at 116.114mph; third was Notre Dame with 115.574; Exide, 114.574; Tahoe Miss, 112.271 and Miss Madison, 111.631. These boats were seeded to the World Championship Race by dint of superior speed performance.

Entering the Ponderosa Race were Smirnoff with a qualifying speed of 110.542; Savair's Probe, 105.120; Berryessa Belle, 101.234; Miss Budweiser, 100.831 and Savair's Mist, 100.140.

The South Shore Trophy Race fielded Mariner Too at 96.950 mph; $ Bill, 96.463; Such Crust, 93.438 and Miss San Diego, 92.165.

The Tri-City Sun and Miss Sacramento were unable to qualify, so the 17-boat entry list was whittled to 15 boats in actual competition.

The races were staged with one heat of each race in each section. This is fine to view but confusing to report. So here is the action race by race.

Heat 1 of the South Shore Race brought Mariner Too out in Lane 1, $ Bill in Lane 2, Such Crust in Lane 3 and San Diego in Lane 4. The unaccustomed start in buoyed lanes upset the timing of the drivers and found them late to the starting line. They went into the first turn in their starting order and maintained it to the finish with the exception of Mariner Too. Warner Gardner bogged down in the upper turn, tried to finish but limped into the pits in lap three.

$ Bill and Rex Bixby won the heat averaging 86.000 mph; Such Crust and Fred Alter were second with 84.599 and Miss San Diego and Robert Fendler were third with 80.935.

Heat 2 put the boats in lanes corresponding to their Heat 1 finishing position. It also called for a re-start which brought Such Crust into the first turn ahead of the field. She was followed by $ Bill and Miss San Diego. The boats finished in this order with Such Crust averaging 89.507 mph; $ Bill, 85.294 and San Diego, 81.657.

The Final Heat found Such Crust and $ Bill tied for points at 394 each. San Diego had 254. But $ Bill was unable to start, so in a two-boat heat between San Diego and Such Crust, the Crust won with 619 points at 90.000 mph; San Diego was second with 423 and 85.987 mph; $ Bill took third overall with 394, and Mariner Too posted an unfortunate zero.

The Ponderosa Race put Smirnoff in Lane 1, Savair's Probe in Lane 2, Berryessa Belle in Lane 3, Miss Budweiser in Lane 4 and Savair's Mist in Lane 5.

Again the start was late but it found Smirnoff across it first and into the first turn first.

Savair's Probe was second, Budweiser third, Savair's Mist fourth and Berryessa Belle a close fifth. In the first turn the Belle flashed up on her side and from that moment made a poor showing. At the finish of lap one she barely was underway and she finished the heat so slowly that her times and speeds were not recorded.

The finish found the field in their first turn order, Smirnoff and Danny Foster won with 98.181 mph; Savair's Probe with Red Loomis posted 95.879; Budweiser and Chuck Hickling ran 93.701 and Savair's Mist and Walter Kade finished with 89.895.

In Heat 2 the first action of the day was seen. The boats started and almost finished the heat i n the same order they finished Heat 1. But Savair's Probe battled Smirnoff out of first in lap one while Savair's Mist and Budweiser dueled for three-four position. Finally, in lap 3 Probe died in the first turn and the final order of finish was Smirnoff with 96.895 mph speed average; Savair's Mist, 94.521 and Budweiser, 91.711.

Into the Final Heat Smirnoff went into Lane 1 with 600 points, Savair's Mist had posted 352, Budweiser had 338, Savair's Probe, 225 and Berryessa Belle posted a DNS.

Into the first turn, through five laps and at the finish it was Smirnoff, Budweiser and Savair's Mist, in that order. Budweiser gave Smirnoff a first lap duel but was unable to continue the pressure. Smirnoff posted 900 points to win the overall race. Her heat speed average was 94.060 mph. Miss Budweiser was second with 563 points and 92.608mph. Savair's Mist was third with 521 points and 91.061 mph average. (She also conked out after the heat, to be towed back to the pits.) Savair's Probe posted 225 points and Berryessa Belle got 95 points on the record books.

Notre Dame (5), Miss US 5 (2), 1965 Lake Tahoe
In the first heat of the World Championships, US 5 and Notre Dame collided. The bow of the US 5 wiped out the tailfin, rear cowl and steel tail struts of the Dame as it veered off the afterportion, missing driver Rex Manchester by inches.
Notre Dame (5), 1965 Lake Tahoe
Though the Notre Dame was again fielded later, lack of tail assembly disturbed the balance of the boat and Manchester was washed down in the pre-start milling of heat number two. It finished sixth with 95 points.

The World Championship Race brought the six fastest qualifiers together for three heats of dueling — it was hoped — without any change in the field, but definite changes in position due to lane starts.

Heat 1 put U.S. 5 in Lane 1, Miss Bardahl in Lane 2, Notre Dame in Lane 3, Miss Exide in Lane 4, Tahoe Miss in Lane 5 and Miss Madison in Lane 6.

Again the first heat saw a late start, but Miss Exide was first across the line followed by Bardahl. Next came U.S. 5 and Notre Dame dead even then Tahoe Miss and Madison slightly behind, but also even. Into the first turn it was Bardahl, Exude and Tahoe Miss with Madison well outside.

Suddenly Notre Dame and U.S. 5 appeared to be almost stopped, with U.S. 5 almost crosswise in the turn. Then U.S. 5 powered ahead while Notre Dame remained in the turn and driver Rex Manchester was seen standing on the deck of the boat.

Within seconds it could be seen that Notre Dame had no tailfin, and that the tail cowling was smashed. The boat was pulled into the infield as the race continued. Bardahl led with Exide, Tahoe Miss and Madison close behind and U.S. 5 well back. In lap two Madison passed Tahoe Miss, and by lap three U.S. 5 was steaming in the back chute, and finally went dead.

The order of finish found Bardahl first with 104.967 mph; Exide, 99.264; Madison, 91.946 and Tahoe Miss, 89.256. As all boats came into the pits the first turn collision story was told.

In escaping roostertail spray Notre Dame slowed and turned slightly left, at the same time that U.S. 5 turned right to escape another roostertail. As Roy Duby came out of the water with U.S. 5 he saw Rex Manchester and Notre Dame directly in front of him. He steered hard right to avoid running over Notre Dame lengthwise, but his evasive action was not enough. The bow of U.S. 5 slid up and over the afterportion of Notre Dame, smashing the fiberglass cowling and shearing the tailfin and steel struts. The tail section flew across the U.S. 5 deck and pieces of it lodged in the engine well.

The U.S. 5 bow slipped under the Notre Dame's cockpit padding to knock the head-rest portion of the cockpit seat forward, push Manchester into the steering wheel and jar him sideways. But neither driver was hurt.

Furious action by at least a dozen crewmen from other racing camps — Bardahl, U.S. 5, Madison, Smirnoff and others — cleared away the remaining slivers and debris from the Notre Dame tail. The seat was re-tightened as fiberglass was sawed away.

When the five minute gun for Heat 2 was fired, Notre Dame was in the water and ready to race again. At the helm of the bob-tailed craft sat a calm Rex Manchester, ready to go.

Exide led across the start but it was Bardahl scorching into the first turn followed by Exide, Tahoe Miss, Madison, U.S. 5. With another tough break Notre Dame was washed down in the pre-start milling and was dead before she could charge through her lane!

At the. finish of lap one it was Miss Bardahl, Tahoe Miss, Exide, Madison, U.S. 5 and suddenly, a live Notre Dame racing a full lap behind. The boats finished in that order with Bardahl posting 102.118 mph; Tahoe Miss, 98.450; Exide, 93.782; Madison, 89.389; U.S. 5, 87.619, and Notre Dame posting a time of only 13.31:9 and a fastest lap of 89.957.

Bardahl went into the Final Heat with 800 points, Exide had 525, Tahoe Miss, 469, Madison 394, U.S. 5, 127 and Notre Dame, 95.

From the start to the first turn it was a Bardahl-Tahoe Miss duel. Notre Dame was in fourth place but spun and went dead in the turn while Exide and Madison powered by and U.S. 5 trailed. At the end of lap one it was Tahoe Miss, Bardahl, Madison, U.S. 5 and an obviously sick Exide bringing up the rear.

Except for U.S. 5 passing Madison, these positions remained unchanged until the finish of the heat. But the overall results brought Miss Bardahl the World Championship Trophy and title. She posted 1100 points and a Final Heat speed average of 101.771; Tahoe Miss was second with 869 and heat speed of 104.834; Exide was third with 652 and 88.321; Miss Madison was fourth with 563 and 97.297; U.S. 5 was fifth with 352 and 103.647; Notre Dame did not finish the heat but placed sixth overall and earned 95 points.

Since the regatta began early —11 a.m. — and sustained only one short delay, it ended early after providing spectators with an almost continuous view of unlimiteds. The regatta went very well. As for the racing, competitive excitement was lacking as there was virtually no dueling.

For the record it should be noted that a nine-heat regatta is not quite as new as first appears. Under the "Donogh Plan" of 1961 organized by Stanly Donogh, APBA unlimited referee, sponsors Greater Seattle and Seattle Yacht Club staged a regatta on Lake Washington consisting of a three-heat Queen's Trophy Race, three-heat Seattle Trophy Race and three-heat World Championship Race.

That historic regatta of Aug. 6, 1961, like the Lake Tahoe Regatta of Sept. 25, 1965, went through its nine heats without delay, hassle or protest. And that regatta, in case you've forgotten, was won by Ron Musson in a Miss Bardahl hull just as surely and skillfully as Tahoe's World Championship Regatta was won by the same camp and team.

If the Tahoe Regatta proved anything about unlimited racing, it proved that no matter how you spell it or stage it — Gold Cup, World Championship or normal "cup" race — the team of owner Ole Bardahl, driver Ron Musson and hull Miss Bardahl is undisputed champion of unlimited racing in this era. They perform with excellence and superiority in keeping with traditions of the Dixie, Detroit, America, El Lagarto, Slo-Mo-Shun and Thriftway camps. They are "the camp to beat."

With this in mind the unlimited contingent moved from mountains to sea level for the San Diego Regatta just a week later. There the national high point championship would be decided. And though Bardahl was a favorite to win, at least four boats could offer faster speeds on occasion. Would speed or durability determine the winner? That was the final question of the final regatta of the 1965 unlimited season.

(Reprinted from Boating News, December 1965, pp.46-58)


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