1968 UIM World Championship
It's Diamonds For Miss Bardahl*
Bill Muncey drove Miss U.S. to the World's Unlimited Hydroplane Championship August 4th in one of the most unusual races in history. A crowd listed in excess of 100,000 saw George Simon's entry from Detroit win its first race after 15 consecutive tries over the Seattle course.
Co-favorites Miss Bardahl and Eagle Electric, winners in earlier races this season, shared the fate of most entries as mechanical and hull attrition hit ten of the 12 boats. The toll has never been higher in modern unlimited history. And never has "Lady Luck" been kinder to the winner.
Almost every conceivable mechanical ill plus two sinkings and another serious injury to veteran driver Jack Regas occurred during the U.I.M. sanctioned event. The incredible loss in equipment totaling eight engines, three gear boxes, a prop shaft and three damaged hulls was overshadowed by several fantastic driving duels and near tragedy when spectacular flips ended hotly contested races by Atlas Van Lines and Notre Dame.
Between the opening heat accident to the Atlas entry and the final heat injury to Regas when his Notre Dame upset, one of the most astounding duels in the annals of unlimiteds occurred. The climax of the regatta came in the last elimination heat.
From this fourth-place starting position, driver Billy Schumacher steered Miss Bardahl into third on the initial lap. A close duel with Notre Dame during the next two laps ended when Regas spun leaving the door open for a Bardahl run at the leading Harrah's Club entry. At the start of the final circuit the fast closing national high-point leader was only a second behind. Jim McCormick kept his powerful Rolls-Griffin hydro to the inside as the challenger gained precious inches on the backstretch.
With both boats dead even at the final turn, McCormick would not "back off." His heavier Harrah's Club slid wide. That was the break Schumacher wanted. Instantly the Bardahl entry charged to the inside lane and momentarily pulled ahead. Not to be denied in the furious sprint to the finish, McCormick pulled out all stops. Because his nitrous oxide had been depleted in efforts earlier in the heat Jim was forced to extend the engine to the breaking point. As the manifold pressure reached 150 inches, the Tahoe entry leaped ahead to nip Bardahl by two feet at the finish. At that exact instant Harrah's engine exploded with a brilliant flash visible for miles. That last gasp of power possibly cost Harrah's Club the race. Because the one allowable engine change had been made earlier, the Tahoe contender was compelled to withdraw.
Good fortune smiled on Bill Muncey. In all three heats entered, the recently announced candidate for Washington's lieutenant governor improved positions when mechanical or hull problems confronted the leaders.
Sandwiched between contenders at the second turn of the final event, Notre Dame suddenly spun and flipped on her back, tossing Regas into the lake. For the second year Jack was rushed to the same hospital with serious back and shoulder injuries.
In the restart of the final heat only five boats were able to run. Even a boat with zero points was eligible.
Final standings: (1.) Miss U.S., Bill Muncey, 925 points; (2.) My Gypsy, Tommy Fults, 825; (3.) Miss Eagle Electric, Warner Gardner, 800; (4.) Harrah's Club, Jim McCormick, 800; (5.) Savair's Mist, Walter Kade, 619; (6.) Miss Bardahl, Billy Schumacher, 600; (7.) Notre Dame, Jack Regas, 394; (8.) Gale's Roostertail, 381; (9.) Miss Budweiser, Bill Sterett, 169 (10.) Parco's O Ring Miss, Fred Alter, 0; (11.) Smirnoff Dean Chenoweth, 0; (12.) Atlas Van Lines, Bob Miller, 0.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1968)
[*I have no idea what was meant by this original Yachting headline —LF]
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