1975 Seafair Trophy
Consistency: Pit Crew Key To Pak’s Success
Imagine waves lapping on a sandy shore rather than asphalt, a palm grove spreading cool shadows rather than a tractor-trailer rig.
In that pleasant setting, George Henley, sitting in a lawn chair on the edge of Lake Washington, appeared more like a Wall Street businessman vacationing in Tahiti than a boat driver who only a short time before had outlasted eight other entries to win his fourth straight unlimited-hydroplane race in the Pay ‘n Pak.
"Every time I push the starter button, the boat runs," Henley said, emphasizing the key to his success.
As other boats fell apart, the Pak cruised to two preliminary-heat victories. It then finished a necessary second to the Weisfield’s and Billy Schumacher in the final heat of the Seafair Trophy Race yesterday on Lake Washington.
"Consistency is what these guys do," said Henley, referring to his crew.
Despite the apparent ease of the victory, Henley and the Pak overcame several obstacles.
Just before Heat 1A began, Henley and the Hamm’s Bear, driven by Jerry Bangs, bumped.
"It went crunch, crunch," Henley said. "I knew we were hit pretty hard. It was just one of those things in no-man’s land.
"I went way outside and quit fighting for position."
The Pak’s left sponson and left rear side of the hull were damaged.
"I couldn’t believe they got it fixed." Henley said of the crew. "It wasn’t a patch job."
Jim Lucero, the crew chief, said drawing Heat 2B gave his men helpful time.
"If we’d not gotten the draws that we did, it would have been a patch job," Lucero said.
Henley said he had an oil leak during the final heat.
"Billy got his boat going pretty good," Henley said of the Weisfield’s. "If I’d have had to do it (win the heat), I probably would have gone kaput."
Schumacher said he was satisfied with his boat’s final heat.
"We looked good, anyway," said Schumacher. He trails Henley by 131 points, in the national standings with the Phoenix and San Diego races tentatively remaining.
"It surprised me that we didn’t burn another piston," Schumacher said. A burned piston in the second heat resulted in a third-place finish, giving the Pak the necessary edge in the finale.
Notes And Quotes The engine was running terrible," said Jerry Bangs, driver of the Hamm’s Bear, after he was forced to drop out of Heat 1A with propeller-shaft problems. "It was kind of a mercy killing."
Jumping the gun or holding back boils down to personal conviction said Bill Muncey, Atlas Van Lines driver, after all the Heat 1A boats but his crossed the starting line prematurely. "It’s a question of whether you’re wrong and they’re right or you’re right and they’re wrong." Muncey said he never could recall running out of fuel previously in competition. A fuel shortage kept him from finishing the first heat .
After Tom D’Eath, Miss U. S. driver, lost his prop in Heat 1B, he said his boat was using a three-bladed prop rather than a two-bladed one for the first time this year Tom Kaufman, whose engine broke up while trying to qualify in the Mister Fabricator, said he thought his crew had solved the fuel-injector problems it had been fighting most of the season . . .
Milner Irvin was pleased with the handling of the Lincoln Thrift in preliminary heats. "It’s so much better this year. it’s not really the same boat" . . . "It’s a three-period game and the first two periods are just as important to score in as the final, said Dave Heerensperger, Pay ‘n Pak owner, before the final heat.
Course records Weisfield’s, 37½-mile race on 2½-mile course, 109.330 mph average; Miss U.S., 2½-mile lap, 120.000 mph.
Heat 1A Pay n Pak, Seattle (George Henley, Eatonville), 92.978 miles an hour (only finisher). Atlas Van Lines, Detroit (Bill Muncey, La Mesa, Calif.), disqualified. Vernors, Detroit (Bob Miller, Everett), did not finish. Miss Budweiser, Seattle (Mickey Remund, Palm Desert, Calif.), DNF Hamm’s Bear, Madison, Ind. (Jerry Bangs, Seattle), DNF.
Summary Pay ‘n Pak and Hamm’s Bear bumped while jockeying for start but were able to continue. All boats but Atlas jumped starting gun. Budweiser was first out of south turn and held off Pay ‘n Pak until pulling into infield near end of lap No. 2 with blown supercharger. Hamm’s Bear dropped out entering north turn of second lap. Vernors quit in Lap No. 3. With easy win in sight, Atlas ran out of gas and was black-flagged. Pay ‘n Pak completed penalty lap for early start, then ran extra lap to assure victory.
Heat 1B 1. Weisfield’s, Seattle (Billy Schumacher, Seattle), 112.810 mph; 2. Lincoln Thrift, Phoenix (Milner Irvin, Coral Gables, Fla.), 105.116 mph, Miss U. S., Detroit (Tom D’Eath, Fair Haven, Mich.), DNF Miss Van’s PX, Van Nuys, Calif. (Jack Schafer, Santa Ana, Calif:), did not start.
Summary Miss U.S., with perfectly timed start, shot out to big lead over Weisfield’s only to break after two laps. Weisfield’s went on to easy victory over Lincoln Thrift. Van’s PX made warmup laps but died in north turn after one-minute gun.
Heat 2A Lincoln Thrift, 113.151 mph; 2. Atlas, 104.070 mph; 3. Weisfield’s, 98.511 mph. Hamm’s, DNS Van’s PX, DNS
Summary Thrift got jump on Weisfield’s at start, and the two boats tangled side by side up backstretch. Thrift led by two lengths after two laps, then steadily pulled away as Weisfield’s lost power because of burned piston. Atlas passed Weisfield’s in south turn of last lap.
Heat 2B 1. Pay ‘n Pak, 112.444 mph; 2 Vernors, 87.091 mph. Budweiser, DNF Miss U.S., DNS
Summary Miss U.S. caught fire 3 minutes before start, causing race to be stopped. After restart, Pak took five-length lead, but Budweiser closed gap by end of Lap One. Bud caught up entering north turn of Lap No. 2 and dueled with Pak briefly until pulling up lame near exit pin. Pak had no further competition in winning, while Vernors finished distant second.
Final heat 1. Weisfield’s, 116.671 mph; 2. Pay ‘n Pak, 114.562 mph; 3. 101.511 mph; 4. Vernors, 85.389 mph; 5. Lincoln Thrift, no time available.
Summary Atlas appeared to veer in as cluster of boats wedged into south turn. Lincoln Thrift, behind Atlas, was hit by roostertail, knocking off windshield and injuring driver. Weisfield’s took lead out of south turn and held off challenge from Pay ‘n Pak, forcing the Pak outside near finish of second lap. Atlas, its engine popping, was a distant third. Vernors farther back. Thrift driver restarted boat, after leader had finished Lap No. 3, and completed race.
Final point standings 1. Pay ‘n Pak, 1,100; 2. Weisfield’s, 1,025; 3. Lincoln Thrift, 827; 4. Atlas, 525; 5. Vernors, 469.
National point standings 1. Pay ‘n Pak, 6,964; 2. Weisfield’s, 6,813; 3. Lincoln Thrift, 6,428; 4. Miss U.S., 4,795; 5. Miss Budweiser, 4,377; 6. Hamm’s Bear (Miss Madison), 3,709; 7. Atlas Van Lines, 3,617; 8. Miss Boothead (Valvoline), 844; 9. Van’s PX, 747; 10. tie between Probe and Oh Boy Oberto, 469; 12. Miss Shenandoah, 169; 13. Sunny Jim Jam, 95.
Purse distribution Pay ‘n Pak, $7,040; Weisfield’s, $5,300; Lincoln Thrift, $3,970; Atlas, $3,100; Vernors, $2,590; Budweiser, $1,000; i, $1,000; Miss U. S., $1,000.
Dropouts during yesterday’s Seafair Trophy Race on Lake Washington.
Heat 1A Hamm’s Bear, disengaged propeller shaft; Miss Budweiser, blown supercharger; Miss Vernors, blown blower; Atlas Van Lines, fuel shortage.
1B Van’s P-X, blown engine just prior to start of heat; Miss U.S., lost prop.
2A Hamm’s Bear and Van’s P-X did not start; other boats finished.
2B Miss U.S., caught fire resulting from ruptured diaphragm in boost compensator lost prior to start of heat; Miss Budweiser, broken prop.
Final All boats finished.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 4, 1975)
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