1979 Columbia Cup
Columbia River, Tri-Cities WA, July 29, 1979

Did Muncey Cut Corner? Barney’s Driver Says ‘Yes’.
By Craig Smith, Times Staff Reporter

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PASCO — A hydroplane race without a controversy is as incomplete as a baseball game without a rhubarb. Yesterday’s Columbia Cup included an incident that provoked last year’s rookie of the year and the reigning champion to lash at each other through reporters.

The incident in question came in the final heat when Bill Muncey passed three boats in the first turn, including Barney Armstrong’s Machine, driven by Chuck King.

King said he had to take his foot off the accelerator to avoid hitting Muncey’s Atlas Van Lines. He said Muncey’s roostertail broke Barney’s windshield and engine cover.

"I was whiskers away from killing him," said King, 46, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif. "He powered right in front of me and I had to shut everything off or he would have drove right over me.

"Whether he saw me or not, I don’t know. The thing is, someone better start watching this thing."

King said if such driving is going to go unpunished, then "we’ve got to race differently."

King said he complained to Bill Newton, chief referee. No action was taken. Lee Schoenith, acting commissioner, explained to reporters that no action could or would be taken because there was no ruling by any official to protest.

Muncey’s remarks were tart: "A lot of people come up with various ways of complaining about losing and I’m not here to listen to any of that nonsense

He has said his boat doesn’t turn too well. If he can’t corner that well, he shouldn’t be smoking in with that kind of competition.

"I ran a wide lane. If he can’t find, with all that room, any place to stuff that boat, he ought to practice, maybe. Because the rest of us are doing it. This is not an amateur get-together on a Sunday afternoon."

Schoenith’s final comment to reporters: "I’ve seen this a lot when a windshield was broken when you went through a roostertail. The reason you went through the roostertail is another question."

(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, July 30, 1979)

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