1985 Greater Oklahoma Thunderboat Classic
Nothing But Miller In O.K. City
The first ever Greater Oklahoma Thunderboat Classic on Lake Overholser was expected to be the showdown of the two turbine boats to prove who exactly has the superior firepower with truly unlimited rules. This would be the last race of 1986 on fresh water and the second to last race to use the big Lycoming L-11 turbine engine. When the smoke (and fire) finally cleared the Miller American with Chip Hanauer sat squarely in the winners circle. The Miss 7-Eleven oh the other hand was under tow after a final heat explosion of the famed "Big Wally" L-11 motor. The 7-Eleven's whole works let go in a massive explosion as Steve Reynolds was trying to catch Chip Hanauer in the final heat of the day. Reynolds jumped ship with the Miller American still on its final lap . Commisioner Don Jones ruled it a completed contest. Winds plagued the course all week both during qualifying and the race.
Steve Reynolds led the way in qualifying posting a best lap of 137.405.
Seven other boats met the minimum with the second fastest lap going to the other turbine, the Miller American at 135.379. The rest of the field would be rounded out by the Miss Budweiser (Kropfeld) at 133.156, the Executone (Pierce) at 122.951, the American Speedy Printing (Coker).,at 113.651, the Jackie Cooper Enterprises (Yarling) at 111.899, the Oh Boy! Oberto (Hopp) at 106.471 and the Coors Light (Evans) at 106.458. Two other boats had one last shot Sunday morning but neither the Dominos Pizza or the U-33 could cut it this time.
The first section saw some really bad winds but victory for Hanauer in 1-A as he came ever closer to clinching the high point crown. The Miller was followed by Executone, Jackie Cooper and the American Speedy Printing.
Miss 7-Eleven and Reynolds quickly dispatched the remainder of the field for victory in 1-B.Kropfeld took second followed by the U-100 now carrying the Coors Light colors with the "Silver Bullet" nickname being used quite a bit. Oberto had to settle for fourth.
Heat 2-A saw something to cheer about for American Speedy Printing as Coker jumped out on top and led for a couple. of laps until the motor expired. Bud took the lead and the win. Todd Yarling came in second followed by the Coors Light.
2-B saw 7-Eleven blister the 2½ mile oval to a 132.255 average and a 138.824 first lap to win with Hanauer content to throttle back for second. Executone was third and Oberto fourth.
The showdown was set for the final, the fans expecting a duel between the two turbines. As expected Miller American showed everything it had and broke out on top with Reynolds giving chase. But with just about a lap to go the famed L-11 "Big Wally" died a painful death in a spectacular explosion. Reynolds surveyed the damage, pushed the fire extinguishing systems and realized that nothing much was happening and went overboard. Hanauer took the easy win followed by Budweiser, Executone, U-22, and the Coors Light.
The victory was Chip's 18th putting him third on the all time list behind Bill Muncey (62) and Dean Chenoweth (25). After taking the G.O.T.C. he only needed one heat victory to clinch another (3 in the last 4 years) High Point Championship. The only question left was whether the salt water of Mission Bay would slow the high-powered Lucero-Muncey Racing Team.
(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, September 1985)
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