1966 British Columbia Cup
Lake Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada, July 17, 1966
Excitement Building: Kelowna Enters Big League of Racing
Kelowna went major league at precisely 11 a.m. Wednesday
The first-ever unlimited hydroplane race in western Canada, planned and organized for months by the Kelowna Boat Racing Association, became a reality when the starting flare was fired from the official barge.
Two thunderboats—Tahoe Miss and $ Bill christened the 2.5 mile Lake Okanagan course on the first day of qualifying and testing runs.
Four other unlimiteds known to be converging on Kelowna; it is understood other craft were not far behind.
A total 17 unlimiteds are expected here for this $60,000 British Columbia Cup competition sponsored by the KBRA and B.C. Centennial Committee. Qualifying and testing ends Saturday; the final will be held Sunday.
Several factors—including past tragedies this unlimited season. plus road and driving conditions on the punishing. 2,200-mile drive west--precluded the appearance of all craft by today.
J Lee Schoenith of Detroit, chairman of the unlimited commission, told KBRA chairman Roger Cottle by telephone this morning there were two reasons why many unlimiteds could not make it here for the opening.
One, he said, was the death of veteran driver Chuck Thompson, whose craft, Smirnoff, exploded at 160 mph during the Gold Cup race in Detroit July 3.
Schoenith explained that the funeral for Thompson, one of the most popular drivers on the circuit, was held in St. Clair Mich., July 7 and was attended by most the owners, drivers and crew members in the unlimited fraternity.
Thompson's death was the fourth in the last two races and this, said Schoenith, was the second reason for delayed arrivals here.
He explained that boat owners and crews spent more time than usual in maintenance and engine checks at their home-base shops before heading west.
Transporting the huge unlimiteds (they are from 28 to 33 feet long and weigh five tons) is a tough job. Unlimited driving crews encountered a Midwest heat wave which necessitated many unscheduled stops to change the tires of their huge semi-trailer-transports.
All tires on the Tahoe Miss trailer, for example, had to be changed. And $ Bill owner, Bill Schuyler, made five changes. Other transports are encountering the same problem.
Most of the unlimiteds appearing here already have qualified for competition this season and will use the days prior to Sunday's race for testing and course familiarization.
All boats can compete for the daily $250 prize money awarded for the fastest lap.
Sunday heats start at 11 a.m. The final is scheduled 'for 3:30 p.m.
(Reprinted from the Kelowna Courier, July 14, 1966)
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