1974 APBA Gold Cup
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 4, 1974
Pak Wins as Bud Goes Stale
August 17 has been proclaimed George Henley Day in Eatonville, but it is safe to assume citizens of the small Pierce County community began their celebration last night.
Eatonville’s No. 1 son yesterday emerged from a problem-plagued Gold Cup with a clean-sweep victory in the Seattle hydroplane, Pay ‘n Pak.
Henley and the Pak were a couple of roses in a bed of thorns. Almost nothing went right. Nothing, that is, but the Pak.
Henley swept all four heats and provided the Pak’s owner with a whiz-bang of a wedding present — his first Gold Cup in nine years of winning everything but.
One boat sank during the eight-hour snafu, and another was destroyed by fire. A clock malfunction and assorted other delays prolonged the final heat until near darkness.
Henley’s only real competition web Howie Benns in the Budweiser. The two were matched seven times (including three starts erased by accidents and a "stuck" starting clock). Henley came out ahead the four times they were al-lowed to continue.
Heat 1C was the day’s big hangup.
Tom D’Eath, in the super-quick Miss U. S., got the jump on Benns and Henley to lead the fleet across the line and through the first corner.
D’Eath led for two laps, until Leif Borgersen abandoned the U-95 in the south turn and the race was stopped.
The U-95 had stalled during the first lap when a T-wheel exploded out of the turbine-powered boat’s left engine. Shrapnel from the blown engine punctured the U-95’s underside. Leif tried to fight a small fire, but dived in when the boat started to go down.
For a few minutes, only the points of the U-95’s pickle-forked sponsons were visible. Two small patrol boats got lines on the craft, but could not hold on when the 6,000-pound, $500,000 boat decided to go to the bottom.
The heat was restarted, and Benns and Henley put on one of their patented side-by-side duels for two laps. Red flares halted the action again when Tom D’Eath leaped into the water after an oil fire flared up in the engine hole of the U. S.
The blaze, whipped by a north wind, spread and the new hull was "totaled."
In the second restart, only the Bud and Pak still were running. The Valu-Mart, driven by Bill Schumacher, was withdrawn after the first rerun because of a caved-in sponson.
Benns and Henley resumed their classic battle, trading the lead several times. Neither could get more than half a roostertail ahead until Benns’ foot slipped from an oil-slickened throttle coming out of the south turn on the final lap. It cost the Bud about 1 second, but that’s all the time Henley needed to scoot to open water.
Benns gave Henley’ a tussle for one lap in Heats 2C and 3B, but backed off both times and was content to wait until the winner-take-all final.
The lineup for the final heat was not exactly what shorebirds had expected when the afternoon began.
The Lincoln Thrift, second fastest qualifier, was withdrawn before any competition. Bob Fendler, its owner, said his boat was not riding smoothly and was potentially dangerous. The U. S. and Valu-Mart, entered in the fast flight of preliminary heats because of superior qualifying speeds, were beached by the fire and the wrinkled sponson.
Only the Pak and the Bud survived from the fast section.
The U-95 had "moved up" to the fast flight when the Lincoln was withdrawn, but it had been on the bottom of Lake Washingon seven hours when the finale finally got started at 8:10 p. m.
The Atlas Van Lines, Pizza Pete and Miss Madison provided three turbo-charged Allisons for the final (all from the "middle" group of qualifiers) and the Kirby Classic was the lone survivor of the slow section.
The final was a Pay ‘n Pak-Budweiser duel from the start, as everyone knew it would be.
Henley, conceding the inside lane to Benns, held a one-boat-length lead after one lap, but the two were within spitting distance all through the second go-round. When the Pak took a high bounce and lurched toward the Bud coming out of the north turn, Benns appeared to back off.
Henley took advantage of the hesitation and was off and flying.
The win was worth $11,900 to Heerensperger, who was married Saturday night. It was Henley’s fourth win this season and put the Pak a comfortable 1,287 points ahead of the Bud in the national championship race.
A crowd of 35,000 watched the Gold Cup on a new course, after 23 years of racing off Seward Park. An estimated 27,000 were inside the fences of Sand Point and 8,000 got their view from the log boom.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 5, 1974)
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