1986 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup
Miller Marches On
By David L. Peterson
The 1986 Budweiser Indiana Governor's Cup began on an ominous note with the cancellation of Thursday's qualifying. Due to heavy rains earlier in the week, the Ohio River was swollen and clogged with debris. High water, resulting in a loss of twenty feet of pit area, caused both the cranes and floating docks to be repositioned. Friday brought little relief in river conditions. At one point, a tree the size of a baby whale floated by. At 4:30 P11 both Jim Kropfeld and Chip Hanauer toured the course in a pleasure boat. In Kropfeld's own words, "There are blocks out there big enough to take a rudder off." Hanauer echoed his rival, "They can run, but I wouldn't."
Although there were nine boats in the pits only Joe Ricci Spirit Of America and Oh Boy! Oberto Beef Jerky attempted qualifying runs late in the afternoon. Tom D'Eath, making his first appearance of 1986, left the pits with a rough sounding engine and went dead in the upper turn of his first lap. Seizing the opportunity to pickup the first day's qualifying money, George Johnson left the pits ten minutes before the course officially closed and ran off four laps, the fastest at 106.257.
The surprise of the week was the appearance of Ed Cooper's unnamed and unnumbered hull. The former Tempus of Chuck Hickling, was white with three tone stripes of red, yellow and orange running the length of its hull. Unofficially named Miss Liberty U-15, the craft was powered with a stock Allison and would be driven by Jack Schafer, Jr. Its crew was a lesson in hydro history including Wild Bill Cantrell and Graham Heath. Saturday brought a full day of unlimited action as the limited program was cancelled. With temperatures in the high 80's the water was cleaner but debris was still visible.
In a long day of qualifying and testing that saw every boat make at least one run, Miller American led the way with a lap of 133.235. Next in line-were Miss Budweiser turbine 126.778, Miss Budweiser Griffon 120.611, Miss 7-Eleven 117:325, Joe Ricci Spirit Of America 111.290 and Holset Miss Madison 113.364.
Sunday morning, Cellular One turned a lap of 109.900 to make the field. Both the U-7 and Ed Cooper's boat made several attempts to qualify but could muster only top speeds of 102 and 99 respectively. The eight boats that qualified would race under a modified format of three elimination heats of three laps each with the top five point getters advancing to a five lap winner-take-all final heat.
Race day brought temperatures in the low 90's. A slight breeze blew upcourse on a much cleaner and calmer Ohio River. The six preliminary heats featured minor skirmishes during lap one with all boats content to hold their positions through laps two and three.
Hanauer and the Miller American won all three of its heats (lA, 2B, 3B) twice defeating the Budweiser turbine. Both Budweisers entered the finale with 1000 point performances (turbine: 1st in 1B, 2nd in 2B and 3B; Griffon: lst in 3A, 2nd in lA and 2A). Spirit of America had 700 (1B-2nd, 2A-1st, 3A-DNF) and Cellular One 675 (3rd in 1A, 2B, and 3A) to round
out the field. Miss 7-Eleven, which had fuel system problems all day, was the alternate with 619 (3rd in 1A and 3B, 4th in 2A). Miss Madison scored 469 (2nd in 3A, 4th in 1A, DNF in 2B) and Oberto no points (DNS in 1.B and 2B, DQ in 3B).
For the final all six boats were on the course and running at the one minute gun. Cellular One led the pack into the upper-turn. Shaping up for the start, the Budweiser Griffon found the inside, the Budweiser turbine the extreme outside, and Cellular One, Spirit of America, and Miller were in between. In the best start of the day, Tommy D'Eath led into and out of the first turn with the Budweiser Griffon second and the two Whisper boats in hot pursuit. In the best racing of the day, the Joe Ricci, Miller and two Budweisers finished the first lap within one second of each other. At this point, Hanauer surged to the front by turning lap two at a new course record of 130.246. Steadily increasing his lead, the Miller took the checkered flag in 122.163 by eleven seconds over the second place Budweiser turbine in 120.033. The Budweiser Griffon, in what was to be it's last competitive heat, finished third at 112.073, Joe Ricci fourth in 104.834, and Cellular One fifth at 79.672. Fans in an impromptu "poll" liked the experimental race format. Deck to deck racing for portions of all the preliminary heats along with seven flying starts didn't hurt. Outside of heat 3B being stopped due to the Oberto dead in the first turn, the day's racing went off with little delay. The Madison race committee again did an excellent job in all departments. After watching the Miller American win eight heats in a row, including all four at Madison with the same engine, it's hard to imagine anyone or anything, outside of salt water, stopping Miller's march.
(Reprinted from the Unlimited Newsjournal, July 1986)
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