1966 British Columbia Cup
Lake Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada, July 17, 1966
Tahoe Miss Leads Boats to Kelowna
Driver Mira Slovak and his Tahoe Miss, fresh from victory in the famed Gold Cup competition in Detroit, led a parade of unlimited hydroplanes toward Kelowna last week.
Some 12 to 15 of the huge thunderboats compete in the $15,000 British Columbia Cup race on Okanagan Lake July 13-17, and Slovak must rate as one of the favorites.
The former Czech freedom flyer took the tragedy-marked 58th Gold Cup by winning three heats and then coasting home in the final. The 37-year-old airline pilot picked up $11,800 top prize money in the "World Series" of unlimited racing.
Slovak and Chuck Thompson of Detroit were engaged in a head-to-head duel Sunday on the Detroit River course. Thompson was killed as his craft, Smirnoff, disintegrated.
He was the fourth unlimited driver killed in the last two races. Defending U.S. champion Ron Musson of Seattle; Rex Manchester, also of Seattle, and Don Wilson of West Palm Beach, Fla., died in two separate accidents during the President's Cup race in Washington, D.C., June 19.
Roger Cottle of Kelowna, chairman of the Kelowna Boat Racing Association, co-sponsor of the British Columbia Cup competition, said:
"We can't just say how sorry we are about the death of Thompson and the deaths earlier this season. We pray for a safe race in Kelowna."
The Gold Cup race was called off after Thompson's death, but owners and drivers later voted to carry, on the competition Monday. Slovak, who won free world acclaim in 1954 when he flew a plane load of country-men out of Czechoslovakia, took it easy in Monday's final heat, finishing fifth in the five-boat field.
His three earlier heat wins had insured him of the title. He had a total 1,327 points — comfortably ahead of Fred Alter of Detroit, who totalled 1,200 points in Dixie Cola to pick up $7,000 second money.
Cottle said Tuesday he has been assured by unlimited hydroplane officials there will be a full complement of boats in Kelowna. The competition, co-sponsored by the B.C. Centennial Committee, is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association, governing body of unlimited racing.
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