1980 Columbia Cup
Muncey Sets Two World Marks in Columbia Cup
Crewmen watch as a crane lifts the damaged Pay 'n Pak out of the water.
PASCO — "Hey dad, we won!"
That was Bill Muncey, 51, calling his father, Edward, 81, in Ohio after driving one of the greatest races of his life yesterday to upset Dean Chenoweth in Miss Budweiser and win the Columbia Cup.
Muncey set two world records in his Atlas Van Lines and flirted with certain injury at one precarious point in the winner-take-all championship heat.
On the first turn of the third lap, the Atlas became airborne for more than a second and tilted dangerously on its left side.
"I was petrified," Muncey said. "I didn't think I was coming down.
"I didn't have any control. The rudder wasn't in the water. The propeller wasn't in the water. Nothing was in the water. Some-one else had to grab me," he said referring to a deity.
"He watches over everybody, but I need more watching than most folks.... I felt I was gone."
So did tens of thousands of fans lining the Columbia River in 104 degree heat.
Muncey set world records for a 2½-mile course with a first lap of 133.730 miles an hour and a heat average of 128.571.
The Atlas victory marked the first loss of the season for second-place Miss Budweiser and snapped the Beer Boat's unbeaten heat string at 20.
Mechanical problems, namely a malfunction of the nitrous-oxide system, caused power drops, and a minor leak in an oil system also was a factor in slowing the Bud.
"Everything was just sour," Chenoweth said. The Bud finished with a 126.689 average, good enough to win most races.
Bernie Little, Budweiser owner, also blamed himself for the propeller choice in the final heat. But Little and Chenoweth were careful to say that Muncey deserved the victory.
"We don't want to take anything away from the Atlas," Little said. "They went out and won the boat race."
Muncey maneuvered brilliantly from a middle lane to an inside lane as the boats drove for the starting line. He never trailed.
Before racing began, Pay 'n Pak was involved in a 2½-cycle flip while making a test run. The boat is finished for the year. Its driver, John Walters, is in the hospital with multiple injuries.
Dr. Toyota, which runs in the east as Miss Madison, was a distant third at 107.681 with Milner Irwin at the wheel. Bob Maschmedt, veteran driver in the Tempus cockpit for the first time, was fourth at 85.035. Steve La Cava, rookie from Bellevue, was fifth in his Oh Boy! Oberto at 82.012.
The other boat in the final heat, Don Campbell's Foodservice, went dead.
So did more than half the hydro fleet in the preliminary heats. It got so bad that in the re-run of heat 2A, the Atlas was the only boat to finish.
The original 2A ended early when the Squire Shop, running with a borrowed engine from Miss Circus Circus, lost its propeller shaft while leading Muncey. Chip Hanauer, Squire driver, took off his neck protector and punched it into the hole in the boat to minimize the flow of water. Then Hanauer jumped overboard to stop the heat so tow boats could rescue the hydro before it sank.
The Squire has yet to finish a day of racing in five starts this season.
Another hard-luck camp yesterday was Miss Circus Circus. Steve Reynolds led the Atlas in Heat 1B but went dead after 3½ laps. Muncey went dead 300 yards later, and Don Campbell's Food-service went on to win the heat.
In its second preliminary heat, the Circus blew an engine at the starting line.
Rodger Ward, the ex-Indianapolis 500 champion who is the Circus team manager, said of his camp's misfortune, "If we owned a duck, the S.O.B. would drown."
Muncey, the winningest driver in hydro history with 58 victories, had not won since the Seattle Seafair Race last August.
Muncey cited his experience in 30 years of racing and mechanical preparation by his crew as major factors in yesterday's victory. But when it came down to it, Muncey won the race by driving himself and his 4-year-old boat to the limit.
"I was really on the ragged edge there," Muncey said. "If you are not willing to perform at a world-record level, you're not even going to be in contention. I'm not going to suggest that this is going to start a new string of victories (for me). The Bud is the best product on the water today."
Muncey plans to have a new boat next season.
Muncey said he had gotten into the final heat doubting he could beat the Bud. He said he had spoken with Jim Lucero, his friend who now is Pay 'N Pak crew chief. Lucero, formerly in the Atlas camp, had not seen the Bud this year.
Muncey told Lucero, "I'll do everything I can to get out in front and you watch him (the Bud) smoke past me. Nine times out of 10, he'll be running at world-record level."
Yesterday, it was Muncey who set the records and took the checkered flag.
Heat 1A — 1. Miss Budweiser, Dean Chenoweth, 108.906 miles an hour. 2. Tempus, Bob Maschmedt, 94.977. Barney Armstrong Machine, Terry Turner, did not finish. Kawaguchi Travel, Bob Miller, did not start. Squire Shop, Chip Hanauer, D.N.S.
Heat 1B — 1. Don Campbell's Foodservice, Ron Armstrong, 107.527. 2. Dr. Toyota, Milner Irwin, 99.032. 3. Oh Boy Oberto, Steve LaCava, 80.443. Circus Circus, Steve Reynolds, D.N.F. Atlas Van Lines, Bill Muncey, D.N.F. The Circus made a perfect start and ran laps of 128, 126 and 126 m.p.h. to hold a roostertail lead over Atlas before dying on the back stretch of the fourth lap. Atlas died 300 yards later.
Heat 2A — Race stopped after two laps when Chip Hanauer jumped from Squire into water so towboats could reach his hydro before it sank. Squire ran first lap of 128.940 before dying. Atlas had completed two laps and was leading when signal flares fired. Under unlimited-racing rules, three of five laps must be completed by the leader before a heat may be declared a contest.
Heat 2A re-run — 1. Atlas, 115.090. 2. Don Campbell's Foodservice, D.N.F. Squire, Oh Boy Oberto and Kawaguchi Travel all D.N.S.
Heat 2B — 1. Budweiser, 116.671. 2. Tempus, 88.166. Circus Circus, Dr. Toyota and Barney Armstrong Machine all D.N.S. Budweiser broke world record with first lap of 130.624.
Final — 1. Atlas, 128.571 (world record). 2. Budweiser, 126.689. 3. Dr. Toyota, 107.681. 4. Tempus, 85.034. 5. Oh Boy Oberto, 82.012. Atlas first lap of 133.730 broke Bud's world record.
(Reprinted from the Seattle Times, July 28, 1980)
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