1967 APBA Gold Cup
Miss BardahlWins Gold Cup
The 59th race for America's oldest powerboat trophy, the Gold Cup, went to Miss Bardahl driven by Billy Schumacher, The reported 160,000 spectators around the Lake Washington course in Seattle witnessed a one-sided performance by the winner plus one of powerboatings most spectacular accidents just six seconds after the starting gun in the initial heat. For her winning effort Miss Bardahl earned $11,250 of the $55,000 purse. Second place Miss Lapeer piloted by Warner Gardner won $7,900. Seeking his 5th Gold Cup victory, Bill Muncey steered Miss U S to third overall and $5,500 in prize money. Most spectacular but near tragic highlight of the 60-mfle event was the destruction of two leading contenders in the opening moments of the first heat. Veteran drivers Jack Regas and Chuck Hickling were hospitalized with serious injuries following the violent accident.
The most significant outcome of the race this year was the announcement by veteran builder Les Staudacher that he was suspending all construction and delivery of unlimited hulls until a satisfactory solution to their unstable riding characteristics can be found. Recalling that five of unlimited's top drivers have been killed during the past 14 months, he will make every effort to overcome the problem. Experts theorize engines have exceeded hull capabilities. During the past two years engine output, efficiency and dependability has increased clue to re-designing of the critical supercharger drives, the perfection of water-alcohol injection systems and the adoption of nitro boosters for a tremendous power increase during critical periods. Experts concede the new Miss Bardahl, incorporating an improved hull design, was the only "good riding boat" in the race.
The smooth riding Rolls-powered Miss Bardahl left little doubt as to the final outcome of the regatta as 24-year-old Billy Schumacher posted his fourth win of the five races to date this year. It gave the camp their fourth Gold Cup in the past five years. Billy "the Kid" as he is tagged, took the initiative in each preliminary heat to gain three perfect scores, then coasted to victory with any easy second in the final event. Excellent riding and turning qualities of the new hull were noticeable in the rough water.
Designed and built early this year by the Karelsen Boat Works of Seattle, the winner injects new ideas in Gold Cup hull design, using the same configuration in the new Miss Bardahl as Mr. Karelsen has adopted in outstanding limited boats competing today. The designer relates, "My new inboards are blown up outboards with characteristic outboard hulls that permit quicker cornering. The objective is to find the quickest way around an oval. Turning obviously is critical." To achieve this objective the new hydro has built-in cornering characteristics. The non-trips on the champion are 18" deep as compared with 12" on other unlimiteds. Karelsen explained the deep non-trip extending the entire length of the after-plane . . . "helps prevent burying the side of the boat in corners. If it does, the boat pops out again and is ready for straightaway acceleration."
Not disclosed previously is the important fact that the center of gravity of the new Miss Bardahl is considerably aft of previously accepted standards. Mr. Karelsen believes the most important single factor in the building of a successful hydro is the angle of attack on the sponsons. He adds, "The aft foot is so critical that the planning surface must be constructed within a few thousands of an inch of perfection. Otherwise, the boat is wild and the driver is on and off the throttle in an effort to correct the boats stability."
Since 1949 a minimum qualifying speedd has been a requirement for participation in the Gold Cup. From the original 65 m.p.h. the minimum speed has been increased to the present 100 m.p.h. average for three circuits of a 3-mile course. Only the 12 fastest qualifiers earn a berth in the supreme contest. Speeds this year ranged from a high of 118.501 m.p.h. posted by Wayfarers Club Lady driven by Jim McCormick to the 12th place qualifier, Savairs Mist piloted by 63-year-old Walter Kade.
A draw at the driver's meeting placed Miss Rardahl, Miss Lapeer, Hilton Hy-Per-Lube, Savair's Mist, Notre Dame and Harrah's Club in the first contest. With the exception of the Hilton entry, all the boats were on the course and running before the five minute gun. After drifting to the starting line and only 30 seconds before the one minute gun, Bob Gilliam finally started his Hilton entry leaving an immense furrow of water to the backstretch where he joined the other five boats as they took up position prior to their run to the starting line.
As the six entries came charging to the line, Jack Regas steered Notre Dame to the front, then seeing he could be early, slowed only momentarily, then resumed his torrid pace. On the inside was Miss Bardahl. Sarair's Mist took lane two. Notre Dame established herself in lane three with Miss Lapeer on the extreme outside. In the second row, Hilton Hy-Per-Lube kept the inside with Harrah's Club behind Notre Dame. The pace was terrific as the front row drivers raced toward the first corner.
As soon as the boats crossed the starting line they encountered the disturbed water left by the late starting Hilton craft. This, together with the traditional back-wash from a small point of land protruding into the lake, caused a noticeable turbulence which prompted all craft to skill and porpoise. Confronted with riding problems all season Notre Dame was most affected. As speeds soared to 160 m.p.h. the hydro began to rock violently from sponson to sponson together with a longitudinal pitching action. Regas fought desperately to gain control. Just six seconds from the start it was all over for the craft. Taking the last of its many leaps, the boat nosed in on its right sponson, tossed Regas to the left and stopped dead in the water, cross-wise, nearly in front of Harrah's Club. With split second action, Chuck Hickling swung his craft to the right to avoid Regas lying unconscious in the water directly ahead. This action brought the Tahoe entry crashing into the vacated Notre Dame. Ripping through the center of the craft, Harrah's razor sharp rudder completely severed the deck, steering column and shaft. The impact sent Harrah's Gold Cup defender into a giant arc soaring over ten feet into the air. Several hundred feet beyond, like a giant wounded bird, the craft plunged to the bottom in 45 feet of water. Moments later the battered remains of Notre Dame slid beneath the surface in 65' of water.
A fantastically quick rescue by the Coast Guard helicopter recovered the unconscious Regas and prompt arrival of a patrol craft assisted Hickling who experienced a ripped life jacket. Stop watch checks disclosed only 15 seconds elapsed from the time Regas hit the water until he was reached by the alert rescue crew. The hospital reported Regas in "fair condition," suffered a vertebra injury, six broken ribs and a bruised right eye. Hickling in "satisfactory condition" experienced three broken ribs, numerous cuts and a minor puncture of the lung. Both drivers have expressed a desire to continue driving.
In the restart of the initial heat Miss Lapeer led the Bardahl entry into the first corner. A spirited duel up the backstretch put Schumacher into the lead which "the Kid" extended to finish eight seconds ahead of Gardner. Hilton Hy-Per-Lube, Savair's Mist and Atlas Van Lines followed.
Heat 1-B surprised the experts. Bob Miller steered the 11th fastest qualifier, Savair's Probe, into the lead at the first corner, turned back repeated challenges by defending Gold Cup driver Mira Slovak in Miss Chrysler Crew and Bill Muncey in Miss U.S. to hold top spot until the final turn. At that point a carburetor diaphragm ruptured, letting Miss Budweiser slip into the lead to win at an average of 103.092 for the 15 miles.
Referee Bill Newton was busy in heat 2-A. First, he ruled Jim McCormick in Wayfarer's Club Lady came across too early and penalized her one lap. Next, Newton disqualified last season's "Rookie of the year" Jim Ranger for cutting his My Gypsy in front of Hilton Hy-Per-Lube forcing Bob Gilliam into the infield at the first corner. Miss Lapeer, the first legal starter, was never headed. Chrysler Crew made a late start in fifth spot, moved up to third on the backstretch, then passed the Hilton entry to finish second behind Lapeer.
It was "all-Bardahl" in the following contest. Posting the fastest lap of the day, 107.570 m.p.h. the first time around, Schumacher was never pressed. He completed heat 2-B at an average of 104.691 m.p.h. leading Miss U.S., Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines and Savair's Probe.
Miss Bardahl's luck continued to hold in heat 3-A. A cracked gear box early in the event kept the leader's speed below 100 m.p.h. At the same time her top rival in the heat, Miss U S, lost power due to a blown intake manifold seal so the leader was never forced to extend the damaged gears.
Heat 3-B was an easy victory for Miss Lapeer after challenger Miss Chrysler Crew lost a gear box on the second turn. Miss Budiveiser was runner-up followed by Wayfarer's Club Lady.
Going into the final heat only Miss Lapeer had any chance of spoiling Schumacher's perfect heat record and firm grasp on the most coveted of all power boating speed awards. For victory, Miss Lapeer had to win the final event and defeat the Bardahl entry by a margin in excess of 8 seconds. Miss Bardahl merely had to finish ahead of her rival.
Warner Gardner almost succeeded in his "spoiler" role. Leading into the first corner his Miss Lapeer lost power momentarily from over-carburetion and Miss Bardahl slipped past to follow Miss U S around the five laps. On the basis of total points, the smooth riding Miss Bardahl took the Gold Cup, lion's share of the purse, a new gold Mustang car and a round trip to Rome. A game Miss Lapeer finished second followed by Miss U S, Miss Budweiser, Atlas Van Lines, Wayfarer's Club Lady, Hilton Hy-PerLube, Savair's Probe, Savair's Mist and Miss Chrysler Crew.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1967, pp. 26, 148)
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