1978 Squire Seafair Trophy
Billís $500 Answer: I Picked a Safe Hole
By Del Danielson, Times Staff Reporter
Whatís a hydroplane race without a little controversy?
Yesterdayís parade on Lake Washington provided the usual backwash of a disputed decision.
None other than Bill Muncey plopped himself right in the middle of the snafu before the spray of the first set of roostertails had settled.
Muncey, needing one heat victory to pack away a national championship for the Atlas Van Lines folks, was penalized an extra lap for changing lanes just before the start of 1A.
"Muncey moved from lane six to lane four prior to the start," explained Bill Newton, the unlimiteds' chief referee and a now-and-then Muncey antagonist over the years. "Itís a clear violation of the rules and calls for a disqualification. I didnít disqualify Bill because he was behind the field and it really didnít hurt anybody. I just gave him the extra lap."
What did Muncey think of Newtonís ruling?
"It would cost me $500 to answer your question," said Muncey, who then proceeded to answer the question.
"He should use all the available information ó video tape, his experts in the judgesí boats ó before he makes a decision.
"I didnít interfere with anybody. I picked a safe hole. Thatís what we want our drivers to do.
"Itís a free area back there. You go into the safest lane available if youíre coming from the back of the pack. I went to the only lane open.
"I didnít make a mistake out there. Iíve been racing 27 years. I should be so stupid to do some dumb thing like that?"
Muncey said he got the checkered flag on both the sixth and seventh (extra) laps.
"And they didnít black out the clock like theyíre supposed to when there is a violation," said Muncey, now pickingí his words carefully.
"If a particular official wants to come out here and make us look like amateurs, well thatís what he did. He made me look like a raw recruit."
Muncey did clinch his points trophy by winning Heat 2A. But he gave the fleet plenty of room at the start, opting for the far out-side.
"I thought," said Muncey, "it was an opportune time for discretion. Especially considering some of the decisions of our officials today.
"I think I was somewhere near Fourth Avenue and I-5."
Muncey gathered his seventh Seattle victory with an easy romp in the smoke-filled final.
The Squire U-65 fogged in almost the entire course when a faulty linkage spewed oil on the turbocharger and a billow of gray smoke covered the lake.
Muncey took the lead coming out the first turn, but after the first lap "visibility was zero."
Muncey took two extra laps.
"I didnít see the checkered flag until I had run seven laps," he said. "You donít know what is ahead of you. A boat could have shut down in that stuff.
"I couldnít see the checkered flag, so I kept on going. I wanted to run within the confines of the judgment of some of our officials."
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 7, 1978)
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