1976 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, June 27, 1976
Boat Proves Driver Right
by Joe Dowdall
Billy Schumacher made good on his prediction that he would break the Gold Cup race qualifying record as he drove Olympia to a pair of identical laps at 123.995 miles an hour yesterday on the Detroit River.
The 33-year-old Seattle hydroplane driver broke the day-old Gold Cup lap mark of 122.033, set by Bill Muncey in Tuesday's opening trials.
"I said when we came here Monday that I knew my Olympia was at least 5 miles an hour faster than she was last year," Schumacher said. "And after today's run, I feel I might have gotten a 127 or a 128 lap if I wanted to stretch the engine.
"But we have only two Rolls-Royce engines ready for this race, and I didn't want to risk breaking anything. I'd say I was using only about 80 percent of my power."
Schumacher's record run in Olympia overshadowed the comeback of Howie Benns and Miss Budweiser, which easily made the field with an average speed of 121.420 for the required two laps on the three-mile course.
Olympia and Budweiser increased to four the starting field for Sunday's race. Bill Muncey raised Atlas Van Lines' qualifying speed to 121.967 yesterday, and Tom D'Eath qualified Miss U.S. Tuesday at 116.950.
Two other boats broke down yesterday trying to make the field.
Bob Miller's Probe just missed making the field with a lap of 104.651 before its Allison engine let go near the Belle Isle Bridge turn.
Ron Snyder was out in Miss Madison when its Allison engine also buckled under the strain of trying to make the field.
But Benns and his rebuilt Miss Budweiser showed they were ready for Sunday's racing.
In 1974, Benns won three races -- including the Gar Wood Trophy Race on the Detroit River -- to become Rookie of the Year in unlimited powerboat racing.
However, after he won the final race of the season at Phoenix, Benns was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident.
He missed the next two boating seasons but is back with Bernie Little this year in the new Miss Budweiser.
The boat was made of super lightweight honeycomb aluminum to save weight.
In the President's Cup race at Washington three weeks ago, the right sponson tore completely off the boat and it sank.
"We think we may have damaged it in the rough Miami race the week before," Benns said. "I didn't see any debris at Washington, yet the sponson tore right off.
"Les Staudacher and our Budweiser crew rebuilt the right side of the boat with wood up at Bay City last week. The boat ran better today than it ever has."
Myr's Sheet Metal, to be driven by Milner Irvin, and the new Miss Vernors, to be driven by Jerry Bangs, increased to eight the number of boats in the Dodge Pits at the foot of Marquette Drive.
Three other entries, Sunny Jim, Just-A-Pest and Mr. Fabricator, reportedly were en route to Detroit. Gemini, a Florida entry, has been withdrawn.
The qualifying trials were to continue today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Then the qualified boats will draw for the first two 15-mile qualifying heats of five boats each.
(reprinted from Detroit News, June 24, 1976)
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