1968 UIM World Championship
The Sporting Thing
A Persistent Game
Boats Are Cheaper
By George N. Myers, Sports Editor, The Times
Six seconds after the starting gun, Notre Dame exploded under the impatient foot of Jack Regas.
Desperately swerving In avoid the fragmenting hull, Chuck Hickling flipped the Harrah's Club.
What was left of both heats drowned. Regas and Hickling were hastened in hospital to sort out shattered ribs.
That was a year ago on Lake Washington. It helps to explain why the Notre Dame on the water today is the eighth of that name. There wasn't enough left of the seventh to hang a propeller on.
Harrah's Club fared better. Dredged up and splinted she is back, with no scars visible, for a crack at the World's Unlimited Hydroplane Championship trophy.
With all parts soldered back in place, so is Regas, ready to escort the eighth Notre Dame. Hickling, mended, has beached himself.
Only hours before that 1967 peek into oblivion, Regas solemnly had summed up the compulsions and the intent which tugged him hack into a cockpit eight years after a race he still does not remember.
In the 1959 Diamond Cup, Miss Bardahl plowed an errant furrow in Lake Coeur d'Alene and shivered to splinters. The flying windshield nearly guillotined the driver, Jack Regas.
Weeks in a coma, months of immobility in a hospital made Regas an unlikely candidate ever to drive again. But by pleading, eight years later, Regas ultimately got another wheel to grasp. Before the 1967 Gold Cup here, Jack said of his new vehicle, Notre Dame:
"I don't want to wear her for a hat." But Jack nearly did.
The persistence of the men, the metal and the money is a characteristic of hydroplaning.
Eight Notre Dames have chased the fame and the glory or whatever irresistible reward draws the boats' bankrollers and the daredevils who man them,
The Bardahl here today—1967 Gold Cup champion—is the fifth in her line, though Ole Bardahl vowed he never would race again after watching Regas being wheeled on a stretcher, unconscious, at Coeur d'Alene in '59.
Over the years, seven boats have borne the name of Miss U.S. There have been six Miss Budweisers, three Smirnoffs, two Atlas Van Lines.
Harrah's Club is really the former Tahoe Miss, third of her line. Gale's Roostertail used to be a Smirnoff, the second. Eagle Electric is the former second $ Bill.
Savair's Mist is a fifth coat of paint over Miss Michigan, Coe-Z Miss, Dewey's Lumberville and Miss Lumberville.
Of the boats entered here, only My Gypsy and Parco's O-Ring Miss are the original hulls of that name.
The message there is this. All it takes is money and an obsession to come back, year after year, with new or rebuilt hydroplanes, perpetuating the traditional names.
But boats are cheaper than men.
It is not often that a coat of paint and a weld job will restore a driver again and again and again. One of the exceptions is Jack Regas, who still can't remember climbing into a boat in Coeur d'Alene in 1959.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 4, 1968)
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