1969 Seafair Trophy Race
WandererFlips; Driver Hospitalized
Ron Kasper, minus shoe, after The Wanderer flipped
Wreckage of The Wanderer
Ron Kasper, driver of the Wanderer, was taken to Virginia Mason Hospital just before noon today after his boat flipped on Lake Washington.
Hospital officials said Kasper, 30, suffered a cracked vertebra in his lower back. He also had cuts and bruises.
Kasper was trying to qualify both himself and his unlimited hydroplane for tomorrow's Seafair Centennial Trophy race.
Observers on the officials' barge timing Kasper's run said the boat swung wide going into the south turn. As it began its turn, the right side of the boat dug into the water and the boat flipped, cartwheeling toward the Seward Park beach.
Kasper was thrown out before the boat hit the water and exploded. The hull sank in 80 feet of water.
Kasper, a plumber from Sacramento, Calif., was rushed to the beach by a Coast Guard boat. He walked from the boat and a doctor checked him over and sent him to the hospital in an ambulance.
The boat, the original $ Bill, has not been in competition since 1964.
But race officials said the boat was safety-checked before the Atomic Cup race in the Tri-Cities two weeks ago and again here this week.
Lake Washington was supposed to be rocking with roostertails during yesterday's Seafair race speed trials. But it didn't happen.
Only three boats made honest runs at the $2,500 in prize money and all three took home some of the loot. A few others made feeble attempts, but turned off the course before getting an official start or did not finish the required two laps.
The Notre Dame was the first boat out and circled the three-mile course with a best lap of 117.137 miles an hour.
The Miss Budweiser was next in line and made three runs. The first time out, Bill Sterett headed the beer wagon back to the pits after a warm-up lap. On his second go he turned a best of 115.139 m.p.h. But on his third try, Sterett put his foot in it and bettered Leif Borgersen's mark in the Notre Dame. The Bud took the lead with a 117.647 m.p.h. lap.
Efforts were made by the Bardahl, Savair's Mist and Mister P's. All fizzled in the money run, but Bob Gilliam did get his Mister P's qualified for tomorrow's go.
Gilliam got his boat up to 103.846 m.p.h. on the first lap, but the Orange Bomb quit on him midway through the second tour.
With only two boats on the cash ladder, Jim McCormick decided to have a go (with 250 for third place assured for just finishing two laps) about 20 minutes before the course closed.
McCormick got the 12-yearold Atlas going for laps of 113.684 and 111.801 m.p.h. But the $250 return cost the Atlas camp a $6,000 engine.
Just after crossing the finish line, the Atlas popped and sputtered to a halt. McCormick got out of the cockpit, looked at the engine and promptly leaped into the lake.
McCormick reported later that the engine threw a rod. And when the rod went, several gallons of oil went with it.
"There was a fire in the engine hole and I wasn't going to stick around to find out the details," McCormick said.
The explosion didn't happen and McCormick was back on the boat as it was towed to the pits.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 2, 1969)
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