1968 UIM World Championship
Gardner Pushes Electric to Near-Record 120.267
Warner Gardner, driving the Miss Eagle Electric, today missed by a quarter of a second of tying the world's record for one-lap on a three-mile course.
Gardner, completing one lap before losing power in the south turn, averaged 120.267 miles an hour. The record is 120.536, set by the late Bill Brow in qualifying Miss Exide for the 1965 Gold Cup race.
Gardner said he missed his chance at the record because "I was going just too darn fast into the first turn and had to back off."
The Miss Eagle Electric owner, Dave Heerensperger, was delighted, of course, and shouted, "We missed the record but that speed's not bad for us country boys from Spokane."
"We garbaged an engine," Gardner said, "but it was worth it." Actually, the engine, which powered the Eagle to three heat victories in the Tri-Cities Atomic Cup race, was okay on closer inspection. All that kept Gardner from a second-lap shot at the record was a blown spark plug. He came in under his own power.
The Miss Eagle Electric had been yesterday's top qualifier at 116.379.
Jack Regas, driving the Notre Dame, has difficulty counting but he has a heavy foot on the throttle.
Regas, one of today's four early qualifiers, received a scolding from the assistant referee, Harry Woods, for taking six laps. The restriction is two laps on qualifying attempts.
Regas' qualifying average officially was 115.385 miles an hour for Sunday's world-championship race on Lake Washington.
He did have identical laps of 116.129, but they were the fourth and fifth time around and didn't count. Officials finally were required to flare Regas off the course.
When asked how many laps he had taken, Regas said with a grin, "I guess it was too many."
Regas explained that he was keeping an eye on his watch and didn't see the flares.
Also getting on the qualifying ladder were the following boats, Bill Sterett in Miss Budweiser at 113.684, Bob Miller in Atlas Van Lines at 103.250 and Jim McCormick in Harrah's Club at 102.467.
The only boats left in the 12-boat field to qualify are the Miss U. S., driven by Bill Muncey, and Savair's Mist, driven by Walt Kade.
Jerry Schoenith also ran Gale's Roostertail at 108.652. It was the third time Schoenith had upped his qualifying average. In two times out yesterday, Schoenith had averages of 106.719 and 107.784.
The course is scheduled to be open tomorrow from 8 a. m. to 1 p. m. for both testing and qualifying. Sunday's competition will start at 12:30.
The Mist, Miss Budweiser, Atlas and Notre Dame were out yesterday, but mostly for testing. The Bud fractured an oil line and it was back to the pits .
In fact, the Notre Dame was out several times and turned four laps at better than 100 miles an hour.
But in the cockpit was an inboard-boat racer, Leif Borgersen, 21. He is a member of the crew but unqualified as an unlimited driver.
Dr. Fraser McDonald, who with his wife, Shirley, own the Notre Dame, today denied any thoughts of replacing Regas.
Heerensperger collected $500 for Gardner's top speed in the first day of qualifying. Ole Bardahl pocketed $300 for the second-place speed of 116.129 by Billy Schumacher in Miss Bardahl and Jim Ranger, who won the Seafair Trophy race here in 1966, picked up $200.
A rookie, Tommy (Tucker) Fults, hit the cash drawer for Ranger with a respectable 110.656 lap in My Gypsy. Two other hydros, for free, qualifying were Parco's O-Ring Miss (106.299, and Smirnoff (101.504).
Heerensperger should be in for a bigger bundle of cash around 1 o'clock Saturday afternoon. The fastest of the qualifiers collects $1,000, which is a lot of hay even for fuel-gobbling hydros.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 2, 1968)
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