1968 UIM World Championship
‘Tough 4 Miles an Hour’
Gardner, Eagle Electric Miss Speed Record by Tick
By Bud Livesley
"Those extra four or five miles an hour come tough."
Warner Gardner was speaking of his attempt yesterday to topple the record of 120.536 miles an hour for one lap on Lake Washington’s three-mile course, set by the late Bill Brow in qualifying the Miss Exide for the 1965 Gold Cup race for unlimited hydroplanes.
The former Air Force colonel is tough enough, and his charger, Miss Eagle Electric, almost was swift enough. Gardner missed by a tick — 120.267.
On the first day of qualifying, Gardner had put the Eagle on the top rung of the ladder for tomorrow’s world-championship Seafair race with a one-lapper at an average of 116.379.
"The difference," Warner said, "between 116 and 120 is more than you would imagine. It’s a tough four miles an hour. I’ve never gone faster in my life in any boat."
He explained the critical portion of the attempted record run: "I had the boat wound up all the way by the time I hit the starting line. But I was going so darn fast I overshot the Seward Park corner. The boat wouldn’t stay put in the water. It kept right on flying."
Gardner, with a grin, added: "I spent a little too much time in that corner." That was the only place Gardner tarried. "I set the boat up for the north turn. Then a ‘Muncey-type’ turn."
A "Muncey-type" turn, he explained, is tight on the buoys. "You seldom see Bill make a sloppy turn. He’s almost always right where he should be — tight on the pins." Gardner hit the nitrous button only twice — on both corners.
A "shot" of nitrous oxide into the fuel system, used in virtually all the hydros, was introduced several years ago by the now-retired Stoen brothers, Milo and Glenn, when they campaigned the Exide. It was a "secret" weapon in those days and was used when Brow set the record.
"Actually," Gardner said, "I sort of got the idea for the attempt after discussion with Milo when he was in the pits the other day. Milo and I kicked around what it takes to do a 120-mile-an-hour lap."
Of course, Dave Heerensperger, owner of the Eagle, was consulted, as was Jack Cockran, crew chief.
"We missed the record, but 120.267 isn’t bad for us country boys from Spokane," bellowed Heerensperger as he welcomed Gardner back to the pits.
Later Gardner telephoned collect to Bill Schuyler in Lompoc, California. Schuyler sold his $ Bill to Heerensperger here last year during the Gold Cup race. The $ Bill never won a race. As the Eagle Electric, the hydro has two victories in four races this season.
Told of the near-record qualifying lap, Schuyler ex-claimed: "You’ve got to be kidding!"
Even a veteran driver like Gardner isn’t kidding when he winds up a hydro at 120-plus. And yesterday, Warner rode tight to a flying Eagle.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 3, 1968)
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