1968 UIM World Championship
The Sporting Thing
Sad Day for 'Sin'
By Georg N. Meyers, Sports Editor, The Times
At 39, Bill Muncey is a raw rookie in politics, a crafty veteran in hydroplane racing and a profound scholar of the Scriptures.
"The race is not to the swift," the Good Book says. Heeding that text, Muncey coaxed his scarlet Miss U. S. to the World’s Unlimited Hydroplane Championship of Seattle and Brussels, Belgium.
It is the first time in history that the Union of International motorboating has crowned as globally supreme a winner of four Gold Cups who is a candidate for lieutenant governor of any state.
Since Muncey’s performance was widely viewed on television, his political rivals are entitled to equal time, if they will take it in a thunder-boat on Lake Washington at 150 miles an hour.
How Bill backed into this aquatic pinnacle is a parable of the triumph of patriotism over strong drink and gambling.
In The first heat, Miss U. S. (short for United States) was in second place, chasing Miss Budweiser. The boat named for beer blew its bung-starter. Miss U. S. coasted to victory and 400 points.
In the second heat, Miss U. S. was cruising third, behind Miss Smirnoff. The boat extolling potato brandy hiccupped and expired. Miss U. S. glided in for second place and 300 points.
Only one boat profited more in the preliminary heats, with 800 points — Harrah’s Club.
But it was a bad day for the wages of sin.
In the wildest finish within memory on Quill Shaft Lagoon, Harrah’s Club, by two tenths of a second, staved off an explosive finish by Miss Bardahl — and then exploded.
Exit the floating billboard for a Nevada gambling palace.
That left clean-cut Billy Schumacher and Miss Bardahl, the reigning Gold Cup champion, as the challenger-in-chief for the world championship sanctioned by the U. I. M. hierarchy in Belgium.
But the former Green Dragon lately has switched her decor to become known as The Checkered Lady.
Promptly, in an abortive final heat, The Checkered Lady popped a gusset.
So, going into the ultimate test, all Muncey in Miss U. S. had to do was finish third, if My Gypsy finished no better than second. My Gypsy didn’t and Miss U. S. did.
That is how it came to pass that the race went not to the swift but to the savvy.
The rewards were more precious than prize money to Jack Regas and Bob Miller. Both still are alive, though Regas, again, required patchwork.
Miller, miraculously, walked off the helicopter which fished him from the drink where the Atlas Van Lines flipped him out.
One of the most familiar and frightening sights in hydroplane racing has become the feet of Jackie Regas disappearing into an ambulance.
One the same lake which shattered six ribs a year ago. Jackie escaped this time with two broken ribs, a dislocated right shoulder and a wrenched back.
Notre Dame, which bounced Regas out and nearly sank, will rise to race again. One of these days, surely, Jackie will examine the odds and find a message.
Caught In The Spray: You know what kind of hydroplane race it was, mechanically speaking, when you note that, for the first time ever here, one boat (Miss Smirnoff, a floating chocolate bar with a swallowtail) was invited into the six-boat final without having finished a heat or scored a point (but she declined) ... And the two boats which tied, in points, for third completed only two of the three heats . . . Drivers complained more loudly than heretofore that the water was "lumpy," and the drive now is alive to shorten the course to 2˝ miles (as are nearly all of the other courses on the circuit) . . . Mira Slovak, making his debut as a television announcer, discovered how easy it is to disagree with race officials. (Throughout the first heat, Slovak insisted that Atlas Van Lines was the only boat which made a legal start — and many other shorebirds agreed with him, though the officials ruled everybody was legal.) . . . The only thing which knocked Eagle Electric out of real contention was a simple little $6,000 gearbox. (It burnt out in the first heat, then Warner Gardner drove the pride of Spokane to two later heat victories to show what SHOULD have happened.)
(Reprinted from the Seattle Times, August 5, 1968)
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