1968 UIM World Championship
Two Rivals Hurled Into Lake
Bill Muncey Wins Hydro Title
Miss U.S. The Luckiest
By John Owen, P-I Sports Editor
Bill Muncey is the fastest floating politician in the State of Washington.
Miss U.S. is the luckiest, bad-luck boat in the country.
And together, they rule the hydro world.
Muncey, who just two days earlier announced he was running for lieutenant governor, yesterday captured the World Unlimited Hydroplane Championship, a non-political race conducted on Lake Washington before the astonished gaze of a couple hundred thousand prospective voters.
Two of Muncey's racing rivals ended up in the lake. One of the two, Jack Regas, ended up in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder, a hairline fracture of a vertebrae in the lower back, and two broken ribs.
The only other injuries suffered during a sometimes breathtaking day of racing were temperamental or mechanical in nature.
Miss U.S. won its first heat, placed second in another, then needed only to coast home in third place in the final heat of the day for a 925-point total, and victory. Second-place My Gypsy had 825 while Eagle Electric, tied with Harrah's Club at 800 points, took third place on the elapsed time.
By the time that third heat was run, Muncey’s most formidable rivals were out of contention due to a baffling and devastating assortment of mechanical miseries.
Eagle Electric of Spokane failed to finish its first heat of the day and thus had no hopes of victory, even though Col. Warner Gardner won his next two races, including the grand finale.
Jim McCormick also won two heats in Harrah’s Club. But to achieve his second win of the day, by scant feet over Miss Bardahl, McCormick’s engine literally blew its top and he couldn’t appear for the third-heat showdown.
National champion Billy Schumacher was also on the beach when Muncey piloted his boat to glory. In prime contention after two heats, Schumacher’s Miss Bardahl threw a rod crossing the starting line on the final 15-mile sprint. And Billy was through for the day, even though that heat had to be rerun due to the accident involving Regas and his boat, the Notre Dame.
Last year’s Gold Cup Race on Lake Washington was just seconds old when Notre Dame nosed-dived into the lake, and then was rammed by a following hydro, Tahoe Miss.
Yesterday’s race was almost over when Regas hit the water once again. On the north turn of the first lap, his boat apparently hit some heavy water, lurched violently and pitched Regas into the lake.
He was picked up by a rescue helicopter, and was conscious although in pain when whisked to a hospital by ambulance.
The Notre Dame, a replacement for the boat wrecked last year, did not appear to be badly damaged.
In the first heat of the day Bob Miller lost his seat in the Atlas Van Lines on the same corner, and while pursuing Regas. Miller’s boat hooked, skidded sideways and then flipped over in a geyser of spray. Miller was thrown free, and escaped with minor cuts and scratches.
If You think Muncey was lucky yesterday, then he, his crew and owner George Simon of Detroit all probably would respond with the same comment:
" ‘Bout time!"
The U. S. racing team has been futilely trying to win a race on Lake Washington for 15 years, at an expenditure of hundreds of thou-sands of dollars.
Despite the fact he was the eventual winner, Muncey found himself looking at the rear end of roostertails most of the afternoon. In Heat 1B he was six seconds behind Bill Sterett’s Miss Budweiser after three full laps.
But the beer wagon lost its fizzle going into the south turn when a coupling snapped on a water intake. Miss U.S. stormed to the front and the Budweiser 1 i m p’e d home in fourth place.
Muncey was behind Budweiser, Eagle Electric and Smirnoff at the start of heat 2-A. But the Bud became a dud and expired coming out of the first turn. And Smirnoff gasped and expired on the fourth lap, allowing Muncey to place second.
Muncey wasn’t involved in the best duel of this, or almost any other racing day.
It was between Harrah’s Club, Bardahl, and Notre Dame. And it was a lulu!
They hit the starting line almost in a row and whipped out of the first turn in a tight procession . . . first Harrah, then Notre Dame, then the Bardahl. McCormick, in the Nevada hydro, had a three-second advantage after a lap, and appeared capable of extending it.
Schumacher, however, couldn’t afford to finish third. He was second in his opening heat and thought he’d need a pair of victories to clinch the world championship.
So he went out after it. His checkerboard hydro began to toss a high roostertail as it crept up on Regas and Notre Dame. He was just off his shoulder on the back chute, then running deck and deck with Notre Dame as they flashed across the line for the third time.
Going into the south turn on the fourth lap Schumacher was on the outside, Regas hugging the buoys. He hugged ‘em too hard, and spun into the infield. Jack managed to regain his speed and wheel back onto the course, but by this time Schumacher was running free in second place, and going after the lead.
It didn’t appear he could get it, even though the margin was only one second as they headed into the last lap. Because McCormick had the inside passage, and kept it around the south turn, up the backstretch and into the north turn.
Coming out of the north turn, however, McCormick unexplainedly swung wide, Schumacher instantly saw the opening and charged for daylight. He pulled even with Harrah’s Club in the furious sprint to the wire, inched slightly ahead, but McCormick wouldn’t back off.
Jim hit his nitrous oxide button, to give his engine an instant boost of power. Harrah’s Club spurted into a four-foot lead at almost the exact instant as the engine exploded with a bright flash of light. It lasted long enough to carry him across the finish line inches in front of Schumacher’s hurtling hydro.
It was a rare sight, and one that brought the thousands of fans on shore, lining the course in pleasure boats, or sprawled in their TV chairs, cheering to their feet.
But the final cheers went to Muncey.
The world’s fastest floating politician got the Last Hurrah.
(Reprinted from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 5, 1968)
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