1972 Atomic Cup
Pak ‘Really Smokes’ In Record Run
TRI-CITIES — "He was really smokin’ out there, wasn’t he?"
Dave Heerensperger didn’t wait for an answer to his own question as he bounced down a catwalk to greet his driver, Bill Sterett, Jr., after a world-record run by the Pride of Pay ‘n Pak yesterday.
Sterrett qualified for tomorrow’s Atomic Cup unlimited-hydroplane race with a sizzling average of 120.161 miles an hour for two laps on the Columbia River course.
The mark, which bettered the 116.636 m. p. h. clocking Bill Muncey turned in the Atlas Van Lines in Owensboro, Ky., earlier this year, is the top qualifying effort ever on a 2½-mile course.
Muncey had yesterday’s second fastest mark as five of the eight unlimiteds in the pits were put on the "in" list for this year’s Atomic Cup.
Muncey pushed the Atlas to 115.531 m. p. h. Terry Sterrett, in the Budweiser, turned 110.294 m. p. h. George Henley, returning to the circuit after losing a sponson in the Detriot Gold Cup race last month, registered 109.093 m. p. h. in the Lincoln Thrift. Bob Gilliam qualified his Pizza Pete with a 100.560 m. p. h. clocking.
Making qualifying efforts today were Jim McCormick in the Timex, Bill Wurster in the Valu-Mart and Chuck Hickling in the Smoother Mover.
Heerensperger has predicted a 118 for either the Pay ‘n Pak or the Atlas. He was ecstatic when the public address announcer called out the lap speeds for his boat.
A photographer asked Heerensperger to pose near the Pay ‘n Pak.
The owner’s reply:
"You bet! You want me to stand on my hands?" Sterrett was driving without the benefit of nitrous oxide. Most unlimiteds are fitted with a nitrous injection system to provide added acceleration off the turn.
"We blew a supercharger during a test run," Sterrett explained. "When that popped, it cut the nitrous line. We didn’t hook it up for this run."
The young driver from Owensboro didn’t know how fast he was going.
"I didn’t look at the speedometer," he said. "I’ve got too many other things to do out there."
Heerensperger credited the improved speed to a change in the skid fin, moving it farther out on the sponson.
"Billy picked up one a half seconds in each corner," Heerensperger said. "Three seconds is five miles an hour."
Race sponsors are concerned about the small number of boats.
If all eight qualify, the Atomic Cup will go with two sections of four boats each. If any fail to start, there would be three-boat race in one or both sections.
The Valu-Mart and Smoother Mover camps were having their problems yesterday. A burned-out booster coil stalled the Valu-Mart. Bob Murphy, owner of the Mover, was shopping for a propeller.
"We can’t get any speed at all," Murphy said. "The Budweiser guys are loaning us a different prop to try, but we have to send to Seattle for it."
"We don’t have very many boats," said one race official. "The Pay ‘n Pak and Atlas will have to be mighty fast and mighty close to save the show for us."
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 22, 1972)
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