1976 Seafair Trophy
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 8, 1976
Miss U.S. — Second
Place, But Best
By Steve Rudman
Fifteen minutes before Tom D’Eath took the Miss U.S. out on Lake Washington for the final time he stood in the Stan Sayres pit area, looking like Spiro Agnew about ready to leave office, and all but conceded the Seafair hydro race to the Miss Budweiser.
"If this race were between me and Bill Muncey," he mused, "I think we’d put on a helluva race. But I know the Budweiser is the fastest boat out there."
Then he paused.
"My only chance is if I can beat him on that first turn. I have to get inside, and if I do that I might be able to hold him off. Otherwise, no chance."
D’Eath was as good a prophet as he was a hydroplane driver Sunday.
The Miss Budweiser was the fastest boat, by a considerable margin; as D’Eath feared it would, the Budweiser whipped the Miss U.S. around the first turn to establish superiority. And from that moment the outcome was academic as D’Eath could do no better than runner-up to Mickey Remund.
Ironically, the Miss U.S. was the best over-all hydro on the lake Sunday. D’Eath directed it to victory in the first heat of the cool, overcast day, ran a strong second in the next heat and then finished behind Remund and the Miss Budweiser in the winner-take-all finale.
Under the old scoring format the Miss U.S. would have won with that sort of performance. D’Eath picked up 400 points in the initial heat, 300 more in the second and 300 in the final for 1,000 points. Remund scored 800 over three races.
"Had we used the old system," a Miss U.S. spokesman said, "we would have won. We had the most points. It’s too bad they changed it."
Not for Remund, who had the best hydro when it counted.
The Miss Budweiser developed unexpected trouble during the first heat when a propeller shaft broke, leaving both Remund and crew chief Tom Frankhauser wondering whether their nagging mechanical problems would ever abate.
"I don’t know how that shaft broke," Frankhauser admitted. "We ordered four new ones this year and that was one of them. We’re going to have to send it out and get it analyzed."
Remund explained the problem this way:
"The water was rough and choppy out there, about as bad as I’ve seen it here in five years, and I was just trying to go fast enough to score some points so I’d make it into the finals.
"Then, all of a sudden, the shaft broke. I knew it right away and there wasn’t anything I could do about it."
Remund’s crew had a new shaft installed in about 10 minutes.
"That part wasn’t any problem. There was just some question over whether we’d hold up in the next heat."
When Miss Budweiser did, Remund had his 400 points and a spot in the six-boat final.
"I wanted to do it for the race, for the sport." he said. "You can’t really make all that much money, anyway. What’s the payday? Five, six, maybe seven thousand bucks to the winner? Like if you won every race all year you’d only get back 60 to 70 per cent of what it costs to be there."
So, for the sake of whatever, Remund went out and blew everybody out of the water.
It was a two-boat show on the first straightaway, with the Miss Budweiser battling Bill Muncey in the Atlas. Then, it became a solo for Remund when Muncey’s boat went dead in the water, victim of a thrown rod that put a watermelon-sized hole in the cylinder wall.
"It was a dangerous race," Remund reflected after accepting his prize. "The lake was so choppy and my boat just flew off the water. Once I got out there I just wanted to run as fast as I could without abusing the equipment. The only thing that got me was I didn’t know where Muncey was until the final lap."
Muncey’s Atlas was the favorite and it held up until the final, but it wasn’t the only hydro plagued by mechanical problems.
The Miss Vernors, which led Muncey down the first straightaway in the second heat, experienced turbocharger problems and failed to qualify for the final.
"The left turbo went out in the first heat and then the right one gave out in the second heat," said driver Jerry Bangs. "The problem was a bearing, and now that we’ve got it isolated we can do something about it.
"Really, I figured we had a problem last week in Pasco. Then yesterday (Saturday) we found some trouble. We went through every system in the boat and found out it was the turbochargers.
"So if that hadn’t happened, we might have done well here. I don’t want to let my alligator mouth run away from me, but even without tuning the boat we came off pretty fast."
But not as fast as the Budweiser, which was lust as obtrusive after the race as it was during it.
(Reprinted from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 9, 1976)
History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at email@example.com
© Leslie Field, 2005