1970 Suncoast Cup
Budweiser Wins Windy, Weary Tampa Tussle
The big trouble last June 1, a Sunday, was that to the 25,000 on the Tampa Bay shoreline the weather looked great for a boat ride.
It was warm to hot, sunshiny and just a good day to be there on the Courtney Campbell Causeway that connects Tampa and Clearwater for the fun and sun and another Suncoast Cup Regatta that had a short but quick field of unlimited hydroplanes to flash by them before their striking, inevitable roostertails.
It was a bit breezy, the thousands figured, but surely those white caps being kicked up out there couldn't bother the biggest motorboat racers in the world, or could they?
They could, and they did, and what it turned into was a frustrating long, apprehensive afternoon that pleased about nobody, except perhaps the Miss Budweiser people and them not very much.
What was happening was that each time the sun ducked behind a cloud formation, the bay kicked up. Time and time again referee Bill Newton had the boats out in test, then sent them back.
It was on one such early run that a portent of things to come happened.
Tommy Fults was shooting down the straight in his brand new Pay 'n Pak side by side with Dean Chenoweth in the Miss Bud when a Fults sponson dipped off a roller and he was flipped out. A Coast Guard helicopter plucked him out of the water quickly and there was no injury.
Finally the wind died a bit, and briefly, and Newton was able to rush three quick heats in.
The local boat, so to speak because co-owner Bernie Little is a Tampa resident and the August Busch family has a key brewery here, the Miss Bud streaked to two rather decisive wins of the three, Bill Muncey in Myr's Special a first in the other.
Interesting aside was that young Bill Sterett, Jr., in the old Miss Owensboro, making his debut as a driver, with his driving championship dad as a crewmember, finished second to the Budweiser in the first heat and really would have a fine start in the overall Suncoast Cup races.
The Miss Bud's times were fast - considering - 96.411 and 93.965, while Myr's Special won the other heat in 95.020.
Then the rest was postponed until Monday morning at 8 a.m. when it was figured the wind would be at its slackest.
It was and of course so was the crowd.
Myr's won a fourth heat and then Chenoweth took the feature, the Notre Dame, driven by Leif Borgersen, second.
The Budweiser feature-winning time was 96.830 while Notre Dame was close at 86.608. Third was Sterett Junior in the Miss Owensboro with Muncey and the Myr's fourth.
"It was so rough, Sunday, I couldn't see the instruments." said Borgersen.
"If we'd raced more then, we'd have torn up two boats and hurt at least one driver," said Chenoweth.
It was an odd beginning for the 1970 circuit, a windy, two-day affair that simply had little go right for it, except for that one group -- The Budweiser family.
It demonstrated that the Miss Bud and her people were all-weather types and it was for them the start of something else big because it gave Little, Chenoweth and the rest the head start that would end with another national championship.
And what better place to start than in the old home town the windy old home town.
(Reprinted from Miss Budweiser Press Information Souvenir Magazine 1971)
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