1985 Stroh's Thunderfest
Detroit River, Detroit MI, June 30, 1985

Miller Takes Stroh's
By Craig Fjarlie

It seems difficult to believe, but nearly a year had gone by since Chip Hanauer won a race. Granted, his turbine-powered unlimited set lots of records in the interim, and no one would doubt that he has the fastest boat. Mechanical problems of one sort or another kept him from being around at the finish, however. The same troubles nearly ruined Chip's day at the Stroh's Thunderfest in Detroit, but this time luck was with him. He slipped into the final heat, then ran away from the field.

Miller American turned the fastest qualifying lap at 139.384 mph, followed closely by Miss 7-Eleven at 137.300. Executone did 125.751, with Miss Budweiser reaching 121.196. The Bud obviously was performing below par. American Speedy Printing got in at 113.651, Oh Boy! Oberto ran 112.839, and Cellular One managed 109.662. Wil Muncey achieved 78.899 in Boatracing Magazine, (a.k.a. Joe Ricci), way too slow to gain a berth in the race.

Steve Reynolds waltzed away with heat 1-A. Miss Budweiser, struggling with a sick engine (99.621), barely held off Oh Boy! Oberto (98.829). Cellular One was a distant fourth (67.810).

Todd Yarling's boat had gone dead in the water on lap two, but he managed to restart. Miss 7-Eleven averaged 106.137 mph.

Heat 1-B was supposed to be a three-boat affair, but a broken oil line to the gear box undid Miller American. Oil flowed into the engine where it was ignited, and thick black smoke poured out the tail pipe. Hanauer was forced to stop directly in the line of traffic as Executone and American Speedy Printing were preparing to make their run for the start. Hanauer waved his helmet for assistance, and officials shot off red flares. Miller was ineligible for the restart. Executone easily ran away from Speedy Printing. Scott Pierce tried to hold back and make it look interesting, but W.A. Coker was just too slow. Executone won by almost half a lap, averaging 99.613 to Speedy's 92.043.

Miller had to win its next heat if Hanauer was going to have any hope of making the final. There was no question about Chip's intention. He won in grand style averaging 125.366. Budweiser was a distant second, (105.990 with Executone third (98.4-55) and Cellular One fourth (89.280).

Hanauer got the break he needed when American Speedy Printing failed to start heat 2-B. Coker feigned disgust and pretended to kick his engine, to the delight of the crowd. Miss 7-Eleven and Oh Boy! Oberto ran a five-lap, side-by-side "duel", with 7-Eleven nipping Oberto at the line. Jerry Hopp almost caught Reynolds by surprise. He waited until the last instant to go for the finish. Reynolds's turbine was spooled down, and needed a second to get wound up again. How close was it? 100.067 mph for Steve, 100.013 for Jerry. "Play a little cat and mouse with me, huh?" Reynolds said to Hopp when they were back in the pits.

The final turned out to be anti-climatic. Budweiser went dead in the first corner, and 7-Eleven" (116.420) was no match for the high-flying Miller (122.930. Everyone else was along for the ride. The field stretched out badly, and competition was no where to be found. When Executone blew an engine on the last lap, Oberto moved into third (88.700).

At the trophy presentation, Hanauer praised his crew. "They are without a doubt the hardest-working group I've ever been associated with," he said. Later, he emphasized the importance of the victory. "After we had embarrassed ourselves in the first two races, we began to doubt ourselves," he explained. "It's like a baseball team that has a long losing streak. This week, we all sat down and reaffirmed our abilities and our faith in each other."

Budweiser driver Jim Kropfeld had an early hint of trouble. "It just didn't feel right leaving the pits. I said to myself, 'Something's gonna happen,' and it did."

The Miller team earned over $15,000 for their effort in Detroit.

1985 Stroh's Thunderfest



Heat 1

Heat 2



Miller American





Miss 7-Eleven





Oh Boy! Oberto





Executone Telephones



DNF /625


Miss Budweiser



DNF /600


CelluIar One



- /338


American Speedy Printing



- /300


Joe Ricci Special




(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, July 1985)

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