1976 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, June 27, 1976
Detroit Boat Captures Mishap-Marred Regatta
DETROIT — (Special) — Two top contenders for the national unlimited-hydroplane championship dropped off the race circuit today as the boats headed for a July 4 regatta in Madison, Ind.
Left behind were Miss Budweiser and Olympia Beer, both badly damaged in separate accidents during yesterday’s Gold Cup race on the Detroit River.
The mishaps marred a day of spectacular racing, capped by Miss U.S.’s come-from-behind victory over Atlas Van Lines in the championship heat.
Tom D’Eath of Fair Haven, Mich., drove Miss U.S. to its second consecutive win on the Detroit River and only the second first-place finish in his unlimited-driving career, giving the boat’s owner, George Simon, his first Gold Cup victory in 23 tries.
D’Eath overtook the Atlas, driven by Bill Muncey, on the first turn of the fourth lap in the 15-mile championship heat and held on, posting an average speed of 108.021 miles an hour over the three-mile course.
That first turn — the Belle Island Bridge bend — also was the sight of both accidents involving the beer boats, Budweiser and Olympia.
Howie Benns, 37, Miss Budweiser driver, suffered a broken leg, cuts on both legs, possible lower back injuries and a possible fracture of his other leg when the Budweiser became airborne and crashed shortly after the start of the final heat.
Witnesses said Benns apparently was thrown against the boat’s tail-fin. The hydroplane landed at right angles to its direction of travel and received extensive structural damage.
Earlier, in Heat 3A, Billy Schumacher of Seattle escaped serious injury when the Olympia hit a roller and spun out at almost the same location.
The "Oly" sank beneath the water’s surface but was towed to shore, its right sponson and cowling heavily damaged.
A race spokesman said the Olympia crew planned to leave for Seattle today with the boat in tow, meaning Schumacher probably will miss the July 4 Madison race, the July 11 regatta in Owensboro, Ky., and the July 18 Hydroglobe race in Dayton, Ohio.
The Budweiser, rebuilt after sinking in the May 30 President’s Cup race, also will miss at least the next three races, it was reported. And even if Bernie Little, Miss Bud owner, comes up with another hull or a major repair job in the next month, Benns is not expected to be ready to return to driving.
With the beer boats sidelined, Atlas Van Lines has moved into the lead in the national-championship race. Muncey, a five-time Gold Cup winner, earned 1,225 points yesterday and now has 3,325 this season.
D’Eath moved Miss U.S. into solid contention with a 1,500-point performance which raised his season total to 2,200.
Myr Sheet Metal was third and Miss Madison fourth in the final heat, but they were far behind the U.S. and Atlas.
D’Eath, the 32-year-old hometown favorite, charged into the lead at the start. But the veteran Muncey, 47, took over on lap No. 2 and stayed there until Muncey made a wide turn starting the fourth loop.
"I figured if I was going to win, I was going to have to stop watching Bill and start watching the water," said D’Eath. "He showed me the shortcuts around the course. I just stayed on the gas a little longer than he did going into that one turn, and that was it."
Prize money for the Miss U.S., only the fourth-fastest qualifier for the race, was slightly more than $17,000.
Heat 1A — Atlas Van Lines, Bill Muncey, La Mesa, Calif., 110.928 miles an hour (fastest lap of 118.291 m.p.h. bettered three-mile Gold Cup competition record of 114.650 m.p.h. set by Miss Bardahl, driven by Ron Musson, on Detroit River, 1963); Miss U.S., Tom D’Eath, Fair Haven, Mich., 98.973 m.p.h.; Probe, Bob Miller, Everett, Wash., 89.359 m.p.h.; Vernors, Jerry Bangs, Seattle, 62.900 m.p.h.; Miss North Tool, Roger D’Eath, Miami, Fla., did not start.
Heat 1B —Miss Budweiser, Howie Benns, Grand Island, N.Y., 107.505 m.p.h.; Olympia Beer, Billy Schumacher, Seattle, 104.448 m.p.h.; Myr Sheet Metal, Milner Irvin, Coral Gables, Fla., 91.89 m.p.h.; Miss Madison, Ron Snyder, Piqua, Ohio, 82.417 m.p.h.; Sunny Jim, Tom Sheehy, Miami, did not finish.
Heat 2A — Budweiser, 103.112 m.p.h.; Olympia, 100.859 m.p.h.; Atlas, 94.405 m.p.h.; Vernors, D.N.F.; North Tool, D.N.S.
Heat 2B — Miss U.S., 94.953 m.p.h.; Probe, 90.512 m.p h.; Myr, 89.925 m.p.h.; Sunny Jim, 89.463 m.p.h.; Madison, 77.787 m.p.h.
Heat 3A (restart) — U.S. 99,704 m.p.h.; Myr 87.819 m.p.h.; Madison 82.091 m.p.h.; Vernors, 64,049 m.p.h.; Olympia, D.N.S.
Heat 3B — Budweiser, 101.829 m.p.h.; Atlas, 98.684 m.p.h.; Sunny Jim, 91.665 m.p.h.; Probe, 90.939 m.p.h.
Final heat (restart) — U.S., 108.021 m.p.h.; Atlas, 105.386 m.p.h.; Myr, 86.110 m.p.h.; Madison, 76.013 m.p.h.; Sunny Jim, D.N.S. (Probe disqualified before start when officials ruled right sponson unsafe.)
Regatta points — U.S., 1,500; Atlas, 1,225; Budweiser, 1,200: Myr, 975; Probe, 694; Madison, 690; Olympia, 600; Sunny Jim, 394; Vernors, 338; North Tool, 0.
Season point totals — Atlas, 3,325; Olympia, 2.725; U.S., 2,200; Myr. 1,669; Budweiser, 1627; Madison, 1,140; Probe, 694; Sunny Jim, 394; Vernors 338.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, June 28, 1976)
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