1967 British Columbia Cup
Okanagan Lake, Kelowna BC, August 19, 1967


Miss Budweiser Wins In Canada

Kelowna, BC Going Hydro Happy
Miss Budweiser Wins in Canada

Rookie driver Mike Thomas steered the Budweiser entry to win the second annual British Columbia Cup for unlimited hydroplanes on Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, Canada, on Aug. 19. Miss Budweiser, given up by her original owner as unfit for competition, scored the biggest upset victory in many years.

Driving his fourth race in the "big ones," Thomas staged one of the most thrilling ducts in unlimited history as lie turned back a determined bid by Miss Bardahl to post her fourth win of the season. For owner Bernie Little of Tampa, Florida, the conquest was his third in five years on the unlimited circuit.

Constructed originally as Notre Dame, the boat was abandoned as a competitive craft following a fire during testing oil Lake Washington late in 1963. Replaced by a new contender, the boat was later returned to builder Les Staudacher for repairs, testing and resale. Purchased as a standby hull, the upset victor was pressed into service after the tragic mishap in this season's opener in Tampa which destroyed the second Miss Budweiser.

The camp's first win of the year was not easy. It was a "come from behind" effort for the famed 31-year-old limited class hydro pilot. Entering the final treat ranking fourth in point standings, rookie Thomas was not to be denied. Corning up to the starting line, he out-maneuvered Miss Bardahl from her favorite inside starting position to settle in lane two. My Gypsy held the inside with Mira Slovak steering Miss Chrysler Crew to the center spot. Billy Schumacher in Miss Bardahl took lane four with Wayfarer's Club Lady on the extreme outside.

As the starting gun sounded in that deciding event, a blanket would have covered the center three speedsters — Budweiser, Chrysler Crew and Bardahl. Roaring into the first corner, Thomas kept the Budweiser entry tight to the buoy line to come out two lengths ahead of Miss Bardahl. Chrysler Crew, trapped in the middle, lost ground to trail by three lengths. Wayfarer's Club Lady and My Gypsy followed.

Racing down the backstretch the two leaders commenced their spectacular five lap thrill-show. With a masterful exhibition of driving, 24-year-old Billy Schumacher kept the Bardahl entry within striking range of Miss Budweiser while Thomas fought desperately to retain the inside lane and stay ahead of the national high point leader. For 12 miles at speeds to 160 m.p.h. the two three-ton machines were never more than a few feet apart. Smooth riding Miss Bardahl had the edge on the corners but Thomas regained precious inches on the straightaways.

Finally, the strain was too much for the Rolls powered Bardahl contender. Exactly one-half a lap from the finish two connecting rods tore a hole through the sides of her 3,000 hp. power plant. Schumacher continued on to complete the heat and collect a second overall worth $3,200 in prize money. Miss Budweiser's winning share of the $15,000 purse totaled $4,500. Chrysler Crew, Wayfarer's Club Lady and My Gypsy trailed the two leaders by a full straightaway at the end.

Bill Muncey made the initial heat look easy. He led the field of four from the start to finish 25.6 seconds ahead of Wayfarer's Club Lady and 44.6 seconds in front of Miss Budweiser. His first lap speed of 108.696 m.p.h. and 105.222 m.p.h. average for the heat were the fastest ever recorded on the course.

Heat 1-B was the first of the regatta's "cliff hangers." from the number three starting position Warner Gardner went into the lead at the first turn in Miss Lapeer. At the exit buoy Savair's Probe moved into the top spot only to have Norm Evans in Miss Eagle Electric take command midway clown the backstretch with Lapeer just behind on the outside.

Retiring Jim Ranger's replacement, veteran Ed O'Halloran made his debut with a late start, then began to move up on the leaders. At the end of lap one, Ed overtook the Probe. He shot into second when Miss Lapeer faltered momentarily on lap four and then moved around Eagle Electric to go ahead on lap five. Meanwhile, Gardner recovered, passed Eagle Electric and moved into contention for the lead. A lap from the finish his supercharger "blew," forcing Lapeer to the infield. Miss Eagle Electric and Savair's Probe followed My Gypsy across the finish line.

Excitement had barely subsided when heat 1-C produced another driving duel. Schumacher tool Miss Bordahl across at the start on the inside of Mira Slovak in Miss Chrysler Crew. It was a deck to deck battle into the first corner. Maintaining better boat speed, Mira came out in front, steered to the inside and pulled out to a four length advantage midway down the backstretch.

For the next two laps the twin "hemi-powered" craft kept ahead — but only barely as Schumacher pressed. He tried the outside, then the inside. Finally, "the Kid" went ahead on the frontstretch only to have Mira outrace the Bardahl for the corner and regain the lead. On the last turn Schumacher took the golden craft wide. All stops were pulled as both boats raced for the finish. With Bardahl using a nitrous fuel mixture and Chrysler Crew burning straight alcohol, the engines were pressed to the limit in an all-out effort. It was the Gold Cup champion challenging the "world champion" Chrysler entry. At the finish, Mira continued to hold a split second edge over the charging Bardahl in rough water at an average speed of 100.334 m.p.h.

Early in heat 2-A Miss Budweiser served notice her third place finish in the earlier heat was not her best effort. At the first turn Thomas steered around the Chrysler Crew, then continued to power ahead. At the end of the first lap it was evident no one could catch the "Bud." The craft added three seconds to her lead on each succeeding lap.

Back in second, Slovak fought to keep his Chrysler entry on an even keel in the turns. It was obvious something was wrong. An immediate return to the pits after crossing the finish line revealed the problem. A broken water return line within the hull had been filling the craft with water. At the finish the crew reported several hundred gallons were trapped inside. That accounted for her poor handling and performance.

Wayfarer's Club Lady showed the way for the first lap in heat 2-B. My Gypsy forged into the lead on lap two, lost the advantage briefly, then regained the top spot to finish ahead of the Diner's Club entry, Eagle Electric and Savair's Mist.

The final elimination heat was no contest after Miss U.S. lost a gear box on the backstretch of the initial lap. Miss Bardahl finished with a half lap advantage over Savair's Probe.

Miss Budweiser was the dark horse going into the decisive final event. Nearly everyone believed the winner would come from tile top three. My Gypsy had 800 points, Bardahl and Chrysler Crew were tied with 700. It was the upset of the season that produced fourth ranking Miss Budweiser with 625 points the winner with rookie Thomas at the controls. The exciting B.C. Cup regatta will long be remembered.

The summaries:

   

Points

Winnings

1. Miss Budweiser

Mike Thomas

1025

$4500

2. Miss Bardahl

Billy Schumacher

1000

3200

3. My Gypsy

Ed O'Halloran

927

2200

4. Mlss Chrysler Crew

Mira Slovak

925

1600

5. Wayfarer's Club Lady

Jim McCormick

769

1100

6. Miss Eagle Electric

Norm Evans

525

750

7. Savair's Probe

Bob Miller

525

550

8. Miss U.S.

Bill Muncey

400

350

9. Atlas Van Lines

Bob Schroeder

394

250

10. Savair's Mist

Walter Kade

3:18

200

11. Hilton Hy-Per-Lube

 

225

175

Miss Lapeer

Warner Gardner

0

 

*Plus $500 to each boat making a legal start

—Bob Brinton

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1967, pp.180-182)


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