1976 Seafair Trophy
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 8, 1976
Sizzling Bud Gives Crew Rare Smile
By Chuck Ashmun
Bill Newton smiled, Tom D’Eath smiled, and the whole hydro world seemed to smile with them. Someone must have opened up a bottle of laughing gas out at Stan Sayres Memorial Park yesterday, because even Tommy Frankhouser broke into a smile.
Frankhouser, crew chief of the Miss Budweiser, had not found much to be happy about recently — the Bud has crashed and been rebuilt twice this season, it broke down last weekend almost within paddling distance of victory and another engine went kaput yesterday morning.
But by yesterday afternoon, Frankhouser was clapping his hands in glee. The Bud was on top of the qualifying ladder for Sunday’s unlimited Seafair race.
"I told Mickey to go out there and hang a big number up on the board," said the Budweiser owner, Bernie Little. The figure came up 121.621 miles an hour.
"Everything’s fine now; I took it easy; I had another 10 miles an hour in the straightaways I didn’t use," said Mickey Remund, Budweiser driver, after his afternoon spin around the 2½-mile Lake Washington course.
Remund indicated doubt that the national qualifying record can be bettered here because of the width of the turns, but he crept close to the course record of 122.531 m.p.h. set by George Henley in the Pay ‘n Pak two years ago.
Four other drivers were opening-day qualifiers — D’Eath in Miss U.S. at 120.967 m.p.h., Bill Muncey in Atlas Van Lines at 116.429, Billy Schumacher in Olympia Beer at 117.647 and Ron Snyder in Miss Lynnwood at 104.651.
Barney Armstrong’s Machine, driven by Chip Hanauer, qualified this morning at an announced speed of 100.111 m.p.h.
Another rookie driver, Johnnie Sanders, qualified the Sunny Jim at 107.398.
D’Eath was delighted with the 1,500-foot turns after his first trip on the course in the Miss U.S. "They’re beautiful. They couldn’t be any better if I’d laid them out myself," he said.
Muncey had a different description. "Those turns are so slow you have time to watch the grass grow," he said.
The exit buoys seemed to move somewhat faster toward Johnnie Sanders, who returned to the pits wide-eyed after his first thunderboat ride.
"That’s something else!" he exclaimed. "The sensation of speed is much greater than I figured. It’s scarier."
Sanders turned eight laps in the Sunny Jim and said he took the boat up to 140 miles an hour in the straightaways his first time out. After finding a better helmet, he went back out for more.
"The conception you get from watching from the beach gives you no idea what it’s really like out there," he said. "It’s completely different from anything I ever did before."
Newton, who has maintained a sense of humor throughout a long career as an unlimited official, had a smile on his face because his newly purchased timepiece, a Mickey Mouse pocket watch, was keeping perfect time.
He probably won’t need it Sunday, however. After learning about timing-equipment difficulties during last weekend’s regatta in the Tri-Cities, race officials here double-checked the clocks to make sure they work properly.
The "laughing gas" will stay bottled up in most racing camps until the first heat starts at noon on Sunday, then several drivers are expected to reach for their nitrous oxide buttons often.
Used to provide an extra spurt of power in the big boats, the gas is the same as that used to produce a euphoric sensation among humans.
Name Change — Remember the Seafair World Championship? Forget it.
Sometime since Seattle bid $40,000 for exclusive use of the race name several months ago, the regatta has become just another Seafair Trophy Race.
According to unlimited-racing sources, sponsors did not receive world-championship status from the Union of International Motorboating. And the total amount of prize and appearance money for the racers is expected to be closer to $30,000 than $40,000.
Sponson Spray — Bob Miller, who took his first "unlimited race ride in the Miss Everett in 1960, now has come the full circle — the Everett driver been selected to steer the Ms. Everett in this year’s race. You are a hydro historian If you recall that Miller also has driven Cutie Radio, Miss B&I, U-Owe-Too, Fascination I, Berryessa Belle, Miss Tri-Cities, Savair’s Probe, Atlas Van Lines, The Wanderer, The Smoother Mover, Probe, Miss Vernors, Vagabond and (whew) Boothead Luau Special .. .
The fellow wearing the "I like Bernie" button in the pits? That’s Bernie Little, owner of the Miss Budweiser . And the other guy, in the Seafair clown outfit? That was Jerry Bangs, driver of the Vernors . The button swappers are back en masse, and the prices for some of those old souvenirs are climbing higher .
Talking about prices, Bill Muncey mentioned recently that he received an offer to sell the Atlas Van Lines racing unit (all of it) for a "higher-than-six-figure number" — and he turned it down . The Aussies are back shopping again, looking for another companion to race with the ex-Budweiser Down Under. Last year’s Bud won the ‘76 Griffith Cup race, the Australian equivalent of the Gold Cup, for Norm Putt...
Chuck Hickling, one of the few drivers who can match Miller In a ‘boats I’ve driven" contest, stopped by for a look and said he’s happy with the progress made on a boat he has been. building. If appearances at race courses are on Indication of Interest, don’t be surprised If Dave Heerensperger, the Pay’N Pak honcho who sold all of his racing equipment to Muncey, returns to the sport before too many more months
The T-shirt Bill Newton wore yesterday bore this message: "Nominee — Nobel Peace Prize" . . .
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 6, 1976)
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