1972 Champion Spark Plug Regatta
He Also Took Miami Race
Crew chief Bill Cantrell gave Bill Muncey his usual sage advice just before the championship final race of the $25,000 Champion Spark Plug Unlimited Hydro Regatta on June 4 at Miami's Marine Stadium. "Get out in front and then improve your position," Cantrell urged as the 44-year-old Muncey crawled into the cockpit of the famed Atlas Van Lines. And that's exactly what Muncey did. Streaking around the 2½-mile course at a stadium record 105.448 m.p.h. as a keyed-up crowd of 10,000 roared excited approval, Muncey won easily.
Actually, the race was decided on the very first turn. That's where Muncey showed young Billy Schumacher why they call him "Mr. Unlimited." Schumacher beat Muncey to the turn but, by hugging the pins Muncey got the inside track, forcing Schumacher to go wide and ease off the throttle of Pride of Pay 'n Pak. "After I came off the exit pin, I must have accelerated from 100 to 150 miles an hour in less than five seconds," Muncey said. "Our crew had the boat beautifully prepared."
Once in front, Muncey steadily pulled away from Schumacher, opening up a 100-yard lead on the first lap, building it to 200 yards on the second lap, 300 on the third, etc. Schumacher was still in the final turn, a Half-mile behind when Muncey completed the 15-mile course. He did it with a flourish, shooting past the stadium stands and spraying front-row fans with Atlas Van Lines' rooster-tail. Muncey came within a 100 or so prop revolutions of lapping third-place Towne Club, driven by Fred Alter of Detroit, and Pizza Pete, piloted by Bob Gilliam of Seattle.
The four-boat final starting field had been decided by six preliminary heats involving 11 hydros. Both Muncey and Schumacher won twice to set up their showdown. Other heats victories went to Chenoweth's Notre Dame and to Jim McCormick's Miss Timex.
Muncey's 32' monster is a Schoenith hull with a Rolls-Royce aircraft engine. Schumacher also was powered by a Rolls-Royce, but rode in a Jones hull.
(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1972, p.191)
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© Leslie Field, 2001