1978 Squire Seafair Trophy
Lake Washington, Seattle WA, August 6, 1978

Fast Speed and Fast Talk
Hydro Field Reaches 10 as 6 More Qualify
By Craig Smith, Times staff reporter

bullet Muncey Sets Record
bullet Hydro Field Reaches 10 as 6 More Qualify
bullet Muncey Fogs Seafair Foes
bullet Bill's $500 Answer: I Picked a Safe Hole
bullet Celebrity Sweepstakes
bullet Muncey 'Smokes' to 49th Win
bullet 'Unadulterated Brilliance' Wins Again for Grandpop
bullet Racing Summary
bullet Seafair Race Recap
bullet Photo Gallery
bullet Statistics
Unlimited-hydroplane racing is a sport known for fast speeds and fast talking. There was plenty of both yesterday as qualifying and preparations continued for tomorrow’s Seafair race.

And a funny thing happened to Pete LaRock. He went down to the pits to say hello to some friends and wound up being recruited by Bob Steil, Squire Shop owner, to drive his camp’s U-65.

LaRock had sold his U-96 that raced as KYYX last year after his friend Jerry Bangs died in last year’s Seafair race while driving The Squire Shop’s U-64. But LaRock said he "mellowed out" in the ensuing months.

After a test run yesterday, LaRock sounded as if he can’t wait for the starting gun. "What an impressive ride," he said of the U-65. "I’m really excited."

Six boats qualified yesterday, bringing the field for the race to 10. Three boats that haven’t qualified will be given a chance to do so tomorrow morning. No qualifying or testing will be allowed today.

Heat 1A, scheduled to begin at noon, will have Atlas Van Lines, The Squire Shop (U-64), Van’s PX, Miss Bud and Barney Armstrong’s Machine.

Drawn for 1B were The Squire Shop (U-65), Elliott Dog Ration, Miss Budweiser, Tempus and Miss Madison.

The three boats that have yet to qualify are Dr. Toyota (U-22), B&L Plumbing (U-29) and Oh Boy Oberto (U-4). If all three qualify tomorrow, a new heat drawing will be held with three sections — 1A with five boats and 1B and 1C with four apiece.

Chip Hanauer in The Squire Shop’s U-64 was the fastest qualifier yesterday, turning the 2-mile course at an average speed of 108.271 miles an hour. Hanauer also qualified the Squire’s U-65 before turning over the cockpit to LaRock for a test run.

Other qualifiers yesterday were: Miss Madison Milner Irvin), 106.828; Van’s PX (Jack Schafer Jr.), 106.352; Barney Armstrong’s Machine (Chuck King), and Elliott Dog Food (Bob Miller), 91.371.

None of the qualifiers came close to touching the 125.000 m.p.h. qualifying mark set Thursday by Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines. The mark is a course and world record for a 2-mile course. However, 2-mile courses are rare on the hydro circuit. Most courses are 2½ miles.

The biggest Critic of Seattle’s 2-mile course is Bernie Little, owner of the Miss Budweiser. He threatened for a while yesterday to withdraw his boat from the race if the course wasn’t changed. But after a meeting with other owners and Seafair officials, Little was contrite and said he had been bluffing.

Little said he thought the reason Seattle was running a 2-mile course for the second year in a row was because of a reluctance to spend extra money for a course survey. When it was explained to him what a stink the community councils surrounding the course make about the race and how the race is in perpetual jeopardy, Little softened.

"I was totally wrong," he said. "It’s my misunderstanding completely . . . They have a problem with the people."

Little said Seafair officials have agreed to try to get a 2½ mile course for next year.

Little and several other hydroplane owners and drivers don’t like the 2-mile course because it lacks straightaways and is harder on engines.

"We can pop engines like popcorn," Little said.

Another reason to dislike the course is that it is perfectly suited to Muncey’s Atlas Van Lines, which has superb cornering ability. Muncey is the big favorite tomorrow. He has won four of five races so far this season and only needs to win one heat to clinch his sixth national drivers’ title.

The course will be resurveyed today and any buoys out of place will be corrected. Some drivers think two buoys on the north turn are out of line.

Seafair Qualifiers
U-00 Atlas Van Lines Bill Muncey 125.000
U-1 Miss Budweiser Ron Snyder 110.429
U-64 The Squire Shop Chip Hanauer 108.271
U4 Miss Madison Milner Irvin 108.825
U-65 The Squire Shop Pete LaRock 106.407
U-80 Van’s PX Jack Schafer Jr. 108.352
VS-22 Miss Bud Bob Saniga 103.744
U-96 Barney Armstrong’s Machine Chuck King 102.710
U-17 Tempus Chuck Hickling 91.371
U-66 Elliott Dog Ration Bob Miller 91.371
Still to qualify:
U-29 B&L Plumbing Fred Leland
U-8 Oh Boy! Oberto Bob Maschmedt
U-22 Dr. Toyota Tom Martin
(If all three boats qualify tomorrow morning, a new heat draw will be held with three sections instead of two. Five boats will run in 1A and four each in 1B and 1C).
Rooster Tales — The qualification of both Squire Shop boats yesterday brought a sigh of relief to that camp. Squire Shops are sponsoring the race. Considered, but unavailable to drive the Squire Shop’s U-65 were Steve Jones of Georgia, Ron Armstrong and Tommy D’Eath .. . Elliott Dog Ration is going "Down Under" later this year to race in Australia. Doug McIntosh of Ferndale, owner of the boat, plan to compete in a total of three races in December and January. Bob Miller will drive the U-66. The boat will be modified to perform better on the shorter Australian courses . . . Joe Taggert, former Slo Mo driver who now is retired in Florida, picked the names out of the hat for tomorrow’s draw ... Bernie Little, Budweiser owner, says he is thinking of having not just one but two hydroplanes built this winter. One would be powered by the larger Merlin Griffin Rolls Royce engine, an engine not used in racing today because of gearing problems. The other boat would have a more conventional Rolls powerplant. Little seems haunted by the idea at doing poorly in a boat with on experimental engine. The other boat would insure the competitiveness of the Budweiser camp. He sold the present Miss Budweiser to Ken Thompson of Kennewick lost week. Thompson will take delivery of the end of the season . . . Little, the biggest wheeler-dealer in the sport, has a new bus that travels from race to race and serves as a hospitality suite (that’s spelled b-a-r. Brash Bernie pays the bus cost him $250,000 . . .

Bob Curran, co-chairman of the race, maintained at the drivers’ meeting that rules allow only the 12 fastest qualifiers to race tomorrow if all 13 boats in the pits qualify. But Bill Newton, chief referee, tartly said that all boats that qualify will race . . .

Boats used to be identified with specific cities, just as football teams and tennis players. This was particularly true in the 1950’s and 60’s when a hydro war was waged between the Seattle and Detroit fleets. Things no longer are that simple. For example, Atlas Van Lines is based in Seattle, but Bill Muncey lives outside San Diego and the Atlas company is headquartered in Indiana. Miss Budweiser is based in Seattle but Little, the owner, lives in Florida and the driver, Ron Snyder, lives in Ohio. If you ore looking for pure Seattle boats to root for in tomorrow’s race, here they are: the two Squire Shop boats, Tempus, Oh My Oberto and Dr. Toyota. Elliott Dog Ration is a Washington boat because it is owned by a Ferndale family and the driver is from Everett.

Bob Maschmedt in the Oh Boy Oberto missed meeting the 90-mile an hour qualifying average by less than 1 m,p.h. Tom Martin missed qualifying in Dr. Toyota by less than 4 m.p.h. B&L Plumbing blew an engine Thursday and is given the poorest chance of qualifying. Bob Miller, owner, says replacement engine ports are "scattered all over my front yard," but he still thinks he can get the boat running. Qualifying and testing begins at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow ... Drivers rose to their feet and applauded at the drivers’ meeting when it was announced that it was the birthday of the Coast Guard . . .

Muncey picked up the Bill Brow Award posting the best qualifying time ... "Starvin’ Marvin" Reinke of Everett is posting a $300 award to the slowest qualifying boat . . . Bob Murphy, whose automotive-powered Miss Tri-Cities Mark N Save failed to qualify last week for the Columbia Cup showed up yesterday without his boat. "If ran so well on the trailer we don’t want to put it do the water," he joked. Murphy was later soon with a wrench in hand helping Check Hickling on Hickling’s new Tempus . . .

(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 5, 1978)

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