1975 APBA Gold Cup
Hydro Driver Fined For Remarks
Schumacher Out $500
By Chuck Ashmun, Times Staff Reporter
TRI-CITIES — Billy Schumacher today was fined $500 by the unlimited racing commissioner, George (Buddy) Byers, Jr., for remarks the Seattle driver made following yesterday’s Gold Cup race.
A threat of suspension, tossed out by the race referee, Bill Newton, was not carried out.
"I’m not going to let him off all that easy," Newton said after Byers decision was announced.
But it appears that the fine will stand by itself.
"I have the greatest respect for Billy . . . on the water," Newton added. "He doesn’t seem to know when to shut off his mouth."
Schumacher, driver of the Weisfield’s, said: "I think a man should be able to speak his mind when he’s in the right. And I was in the right. We should have freedom of speech. Without it, we’re in trouble."
Byers’ ruling followed a post-race interview in which Schumacher said:
"I was cheated. In my mind, it was a poor decision on the part of the referee; and he’ll probably suspend me for saying it."
Newton, the race referee, at the time unaware of the reaction from the Weisfield’s driver, said:
"I don’t care what Billy says, but if what I see in the newspaper . . . is contradictory, I may take drastic action.
"By drastic, I mean really drastic. One year."
What Schumacher also said was:
‘He’s supposed to be God. I’d sure like to see him walk across the river, though."
Schumacher was nodding toward the mighty Columbia.
Schumacher’s anger surfaced after Newton had ruled that the Seattle driver would be fined $100 for a racing infraction, then changed his mind.
Newton said he rescinded the fine "out of good sportsmanship," but Schumacher insisted he had broken no rules to begin with.
"This whole thing is ridiculous," fumed Schumacher. "I should get the points." When Newton rescinded the fine, he did not restore the 169 points which Schumacher felt he should have received for finishing fourth in yesterday’s first heat.
With those points, the Weisfield’s today would be the national point leader in unlimited-hydroplane standings. Without them, Weisfield’s ranks second behind the Pay ‘n Pak.
The ruling came about after Schumacher, leading the first-heat field lost engine power because of a blown supercharger. He continued to drive around the course, however, at a much slower pace.
Newton, after consulting with his assistant referees, ruled that a black flag should be flown, signaling to Schumacher that he was creating a hazardous wake and that he should pull off the course.
"I didn’t even see a black flag until I was headed down the straightaway on the last lap," said the driver.
"The race (for the top spots) was over. I was not endangering anybody with my wake."
The rule in question has to do with what the hydro people call "planing." Boats are required to maintain a plane — skim over the surface — rather than drop down to the extent that the craft is traveling through the water instead of over it.
Schumacher says he maintained a plane. Newton said: "Billy may think he was, but . . . no way." "I’m humiliated after today, and I think the crew is, too," Schumacher said after the race.
Of the Pay ‘n Pak win, he said, "It was not their performance. It was our lack of performance."
The Pay ‘n Pak owner, Dave Heerensperger, said: "You have to think that way in boat racing. You have to be optimistic."
Schumacher said he received some repercussions after the Weisfield’s camp elected not to try for the course qualifying record here and added:
"The way today went, we should have gone for it. In Seattle we probably will. I don’t know."
Newton said, "The rule is automatic. A boat must automatically pull off the course when it’s not in a plane, even without a black flag.
"This rule was put in at our meeting in Detroit. Ironically, it was proposed by Les Rosenberg."
Rosenberg owns the Weisfield’s.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 28, 1975)
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