1978 Columbia Cup
The Bud Takes A Sip Of Victory
The "king of beers" boat finally beat the king of hydroplane drivers in an afternoon of racing that saw the young knight from The Squire Shop flipped from his boat and injured.
Ron Snyder in the Miss Budweiser beat Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines in the Columbia Cup unlimited race yesterday. The victory came after Muncey’s boat blew a rod in its engine as it led up the backstretch on the first lap of the championship heat.
A roar of approval went up from the estimated crowd of 40,000 lining the Columbia River when Muncey came to a halt and Miss Budweiser took the lead.
Muncey won the four previous races this season and was shooting to become the first driver in unlimited history to go undefeated in an entire season. Muncey will be out for his 49th career victory Sunday on Lake Washington in the Seafair race. All he has to do to clinch this year’s national championship is win one heat.
Miss Madison, driven by Milner Irvin, was second in the championship heat and thus second in the final standings. Australia’s Miss Bud, driven by Bob Saniga, was third. The other finisher was Elliott Dog Ration (U-66), driven by Bob Miller of Everett.
Chip Hanauer, driver of both Squire Shop boats, was injured when he was flipped from the cockpit of the U-65 while jockeying for position before the start of Heat 2A.
Hanauer, 24, was attempting to turn to his right on the backstretch to improve his starting position when his boat dug into the wake of the Miss Madison and/or Miss Budweiser and spun.
Hanauer was pitched into the river face-down but his life jacket uprighted his face and a diver quickly went to his aid. Irvin, meanwhile, quickly turned the Miss Madison around and returned to the scene to see if his help was needed.
Hanauer suffered several bruises and contusions, including a deep bruise on his right leg above the kneecap. That injury originally was diagnosed as a fracture. After a slow ride to the pits in a rescue boat to prevent aggravating the injuries, he was rushed to a Kennewick hospital. He returned to the pits and watched the final heat and then was driven to his motel room. Last night he was under sedation.
Hanauer is not expected to race until the San Diego regatta in September, said Bob Steil, owner of The Squire Shop boats.
Steil said he doesn’t know who will drive the boats in the Seafair Race.
The Bud’s victory, earned in temperatures that hit 100 degrees, brought jubilation to the camp of last year’s national championship team. Both Miss Budweiser and Atlas Van Lines easily won their two preliminary heats to qualify for the showdown.
The Budweiser strategy had been to push Muncey and hope he would break down. It worked.
Snyder said he "had an instinct" that "something was about to happen" if he kept the pressure on Muncey.
"Call it instinct, luck or whatever, when he went down I knew I had him."
The victory was Snyder’s first in four years of unlimited racing. This is his first year of driving for Bernie Little, the Budweiser owner who ran his career win total to 29.
Muncey took the defeat graciously, and philosophically.
"I came to wits with myself about losing 10 years ago," he said, perched near the front of his boat in the pits. "For years losing was unacceptable to me. I was just a poor sport about losing. But you’re going to lose. That’s the way it is."
Muncey conceded the loss might be good for hydroplane racing. "I’m not sure it’s always good for the sport to have one team dominating."
The Budweiser camp earned $8,235 for the victory. The race purse was $22,500 and each of the 10 boats that qualified got $1,500.
Rooster Tales: The U-65 wasn’t damaged in Hanauer’s accident. However, the camp’s U-64 has a 15-inch narrow gash near the stern on the bottom that must be repaired. The boat also needs a new propeller shaft housing. The damage was sustained when the boat lost its propeller in Heat 2B. Bob Miller was substituting for the injured Hanauer at the time . . . Hanauer’s injury is the most serious in 13 years of racing on this course, considered one of the safest in the nation. Two other drivers were pitched from their boats in earlier races. Dean Chenoweth was thrown out of Miss Budweiser in 1970 and Bob Gilliam went flying from the Pizza Pete in 1972.
In an unusual move, Miss Tri-Cities Mark N Pak was allowed to try to qualify after two preliminary heats had been run. The boat couldn’t get moving. The Mark N Pak somehow got into the draw for the final preliminary heats but after it failed to qualify, a new drawing was held . . . Two boats qualified yesterday morning for the race — Van’s PX at more than 112 miles an hour and Oh Boy Oberto at 98-plus . . . A male skinny-dipper drew a large crowd and sheriff’s deputies before the final heat. The crowd booed when the unclad bather was handed a towel and hauled off in a sheriff’s van.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 31, 1978)
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