1986 APBA Gold Cup
Chip Matches Wood
It took 65 years, but Gar Wood's Gold Cup record of five consecutive wins in 1917 thru 1921 has finally been equaled. Chip Hanauer duplicated the "Gray Fox's" incredible achievement with a victory at Detroit on June 29, winning all four heats with Fran Muncey's Miller American. Chip now joins the select of truly legendary Gold Cup drivers. Only one other pilot has won more times than Mood and Hanauer, and that's Bill 1luncey who emerged victorious in the years 1956-57-61-62-72-77-78-79.
Going into the race, opinions were divided as to the Miller Americanís chances. True, the Miller had qualified fastest at Detroit in 135.156, but there was still the matter of the team's shabby performance at Miami in the wake of Crew Chief Jim Lucero's unexplained departure from the Miller organization. Moreover, pilot Hanauer lacked the sharpening of recent race competition, having failed to start in the season-opener at Miami on Biscayne Bay. Other qualifiers included: Miss 7-Eleven at 132.590, the Budweiser Griffon in 126.828, the Budweiser turbine with 121.225, Holset/Miss Madison at 117.518, Cellular One in 112.602, and Oh Boy! Oberto with 109.463.
After a disappointing and much-delayed series of preliminary heats, five of the seven qualifiers were admitted to the championship finale: Miller American with three first places (1A, 2A, 3A), the turbine Miss Budwesier and Jim Kropfeld with one first (3B) and two seconds (1B, 2A), the Griffon Miss Budweiser and Scott Pierce with one first (2B) and two seconds (1A), 3A), Holset/Miss Madison and Ron Snyder with two seconds (2B, 3B) and one third, (1A), Miss 7-Eleven and Steve Reynolds with a first (1B), a fourth (3A), and a DNF (2A). Failing to make the final cut were Todd Yarling in Cellular One with one third (3A), one DNF (1B) and a DNS (2A) and George Johnson in Oh Boy! Oberto with three DNF's (1A, 2B, 3B). They joined non-qualifiers Miss Merc Cruiser, Joe Ricci Spirt Of America (U-2), and the U-7 on the sidelines during the final 15-mile moment of truth.
Ron Snyder in Miss Madison made his fourth perfect start of the day, leading the field over the line in the outside lane. Hanauer led out of the first turn and throughout the six laps with Kropfeld in close pursuit all the way. After having ridden very erratically in the preliminary action, the turbine Miss Budweiser ran a whole lot better and faster in the Final Heat and was always within two roostertails of the rival beer boat. Hanauer turned laps of 122, 126, 125, 120, 123., and 124 for an average of 123.872 around the squash-shaped 2Ĺ-mile track; Kropfeld did 119, 122, 123, 122, 121, and 121 for a reading of 121.872.
Pierce and the Griffon Miss Budweiser found themselves without a starting land and had to work their way up from dead last. They caught Snyder and Miss Madison on lap three and slipped by Reynolds and an ailing Miss 7-Eleven on the final turn. At the finish line, it was Pierce in third at 109.792 and Reynolds in fourth at 109.156 with Snyder failing to finish.
The victory was the nineteenth in the Unlimited Class for Chip Hanauer and his sixteenth for the Fran Muncey organization, which proved at Detroit that it could indeed win convincingly without Jim Lucero. After two races on the 1986 Thunderboat World Series tour, the turbine Miss Budweiser had the lead in Season Points with 2500, followed by Holset/Miss Madison with 1825, the Griffon Miss Budweiser with 1750, Miller American with 1600, Miss 7-Eleven with 1188, Cellular One with 1094, Miss Merc Cruiser with 1,27, and Oh Boy! Oberto with 225.
(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, July 1986)
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