1966 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, July 3-4, 1966
Slovak Drives Tahoe Miss to
Victory in Slowest Gold Cup Time in 12 Years
Winner's Average is 93.342 m.p.h.
Slovak Coasts Through Last HeatNew Committee to Study Recent Tragedies
By Steve Cady
Detroit, July 4 Mira Slovak, a 37-year-old bachelor who pilots jet airliners when he isn't driving speedboats, won the 58th Gold Cup today. And nobody was killed.
The victory of life over death was the most rewarding development as shaken regatta officials went through the motions of completing powerboat racing's most illustrious event. After four deaths in two weeks, one of which occurred yesterday and forced postponement of the remaining heats until today, the sport had taken just about all it could.
"we love speed and we think this is the most exciting sport going," Slovak said in accepting the trophy, "but we're not a bunch of kamikaze pilots. We're concerned about the safety aspects."
The daring but cool-thinking Slovak needed only to finish fifth in the final heat to clinch his first Gold Cup in four attempts. That's just what he did, nursing Bill Harrah's gray-and-orange Tahoe Miss through the last 15-mile race at a safe and subdued 84.295 miles an hour.
Slowest in 12 Years
That pulled the Nevada boat's speed average for the four heats down to 93.342 miles and hour, the slowest Gold Cup time in 12 years and far below the record four-heat average of 105.1 m.p.h., set by the late Ron Musson with Miss Bardahl in 1963.
Tahoe Miss, based in Reno, won both of her heats yesterday with plenty to spare. In Heat 3A today, Slovak pushed her hard again, taking the lead on the fourth three-mile lap of the five-lap egg-shaped Detroit River course. By the time the final arrived, Slovak could coast.
"There was no reason for me to push the boat and risk blowing up an engine and losing the Gold Cup," he said. "I really wanted this one."
Still, Chuck Thompson's death yesterday in the original attempt to run Heat 3A had diluted the glory in this $75,888 event, richest boat race ever run.
"It's just not the same because of Chuck," the winner said. "It couldn't be. But we all know the risks involved."
Tahoe Miss, in her third season of racing, wound up with 1,327 points1,200 from the three heat victories and a "make sure" 127 from the final. Miss Dixi Cola, a Los Angeles boat driven by Fred Alter, finished second with 1,200.
Had Dixi Cola won the final, instead of being runner-up to $ Bill, she still would have fallen 27 points short of Tahoe Miss. Savair's Probe, a Detroit racer driven by Red Loomis, was third with 1,050.
Accidents to be Studied
The Thompson death (caused when his boat, Smirnoff, broke up) resulted in the formation today of a special committee to investigate both that accident and the two in Washington two weeks ago that killed Musson, Don Wilson and Rex Manchester.
The committee consists of Bill Muncey and Buddy Byers (both drivers), Les Staudacher (the designer of most of the 180-mile-an-hour unlimited hydroplanes), and Lee Schoenith, chairman of the American Power Boat Association's unlimited hydroplane commission.
"We're going to try to come up with an answer to what has happened and why," said Muncey. "This sport is still a good insurance risk. The recent misfortunes have caught us sort of unprepared, because our safety record for the last 20 years has been so good."
In another action today, the commission suspended Norm Evans, driver of $ Bill, for a year for "unsportsmanlike conduct," before Heat 3A. Warner Gardner drove $ Bill to victory in the final heat.
Evans had engine trouble before Heat 3A, which was delayed a couple of hours by rain and other complications. One of the complications was Evans, who twice left $ Bill on the course, her exhaust stacks pouring black smoke, instead of calling for a tow.
"The rule is that a boat must be running at the one-minute gun," Bill Newton, the referee. "Evans jeopardized the safety of the others by trying to start his boat after that and pushing waves onto the course."
Evans was suspended last year for rough tactics.
1. Tahoe Miss, Reno NV,
2. Savair's Probe, Detroit, Red Loomis
3. Miss Budweiser, Tampa FL, Bill Brow
$ Bill, Lompoc, CA, and Miss Chrysler Crew, Owensboro KY, DNS
Time9:11.8, Speed97.861 m.p.h.
1. My Gypsy, Detroit,
2. Miss Dixi Cola, Los Angeles, Fred Alter
3. Miss Madison, Madison IN, Jim McCormick
Wayfarer's Club Lady, Long Beach CA, Bob Fendler, DNF
Miss U.S., Detroit, Bill Muncey and Gale's Roostertail, Jerry Schoenith, DNS
Time9:10, Speed98.181 m.p.h.
1. $ Bill, Warner
2. Dixi Cola
3. Savair's Probe
4. My Gypsy
5. Tahoe Miss
Miss Budweiser, DNF
Time9:04, Speed99.264 m.p.h.
Final Point Standing
(Reprinted from the New York Times, July 5, 1966)
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