July 30, 1984: Hydro crowd boisterous and quiet; Hanauer a legend in his own time

July 24, 2008 

It's time for legendary unlimited hydroplane drivers Bill Muncey and Ron Musson to move over and make room for the kid from Seattle.

Chip Hanauer became only the third person to win thunderboating's most prestigious event three straight times when he drove the Atlas Van Lines to victory in the Gold Cup race Sunday on the Columbia River.

It was the fastest championship heat in the race's history and marked the first time a turbine-powered boat has won the Gold Cup.

Hanauer's victory, coupled with his wins at Detroit in 1982 and Evansville in 1983, duplicated Muncey's three wins in 1977-79 and Musson's string in 1963-65. Hanauer has a ways to go, however, to equal Muncey's eight Gold Cup triumphs.

"Winning three Gold Cups in a row is more than I ever dreamed for. I did something today that only people such as Bill Muncey and Ron Musson have done." Hanauer said as he stepped onto the dock after the race.

The Atlas was late in crossing the starting line and had to overtake The Squire Shop on the third lap as it won the final heat with an average speed of 130.968 miles per hour. Second place went to George Johnson in the Executone with a speed of 116.618. Miss Renault, driven by Milner Irvin was third at 114.289. The Squire Shop, driven by Mickey Remund, was awarded fourth on the basis of distance traveled.

"We finished with just one of everything," Hanauer noted. "We had one prop, one engine and problems with the steering. Every time I turned I lost power."

The Atlas ran with a backup engine that the Atlas driver said was "wimpy" engine, however, managed to power the Atlas to a national one-lap competition record for a 2 1/2-mile course of 137.762 m.p.h. in Heat 2A.

The win also may have established that the turbine engine is here to stay in unlimited hydroplane racing.

"The thing that impresses me most about this boat," said designer-builder-partner Jim Lucero, "is that not only that it does so many things well, it also does them so easily."

The other turbine boats, however, didn't fare as well. The Tosti Asti, driven by Steve Reynolds, qualified for the championship heat with 1,000 points but went dead in the water just before the start after being washed down by the Miss Budweiser's roostertail.

That cost the Miss Budweiser, driven by Jim Kropfeld, a disqualification but it was mostly academic since the Bud lost a super charger blower and went dead in the second lap. All owner Bernie Little lost was the difference between fifth and sixth place money but no points in the national high point standings.

The Squire Shop, whose crew had to work most of Saturday night to repair a damaged strut and a deck ripped apart by an explosion, made a heroic bid to win the big mug before being betrayed by a cracked piston.

The Squire was leading the Atlas starting the third lap when it suddenly went dead in the water. "The engine went bang and I said 'Oh no, there goes my Gold Cup,'" said Mickey Remund, Squire Shop driver.

That left George Johnson in the Executone and the Miss Renault with Milner Irvin, whose only hopes of winning depended on the Atlas breaking down, to provide pursuit.

The Budweiser got the afternoon off to a fast start with several records in Heat 1A. The Budweiser's 133.547 m.p.h. average for a 15-mile heat was a Gold Cup record and the first lap of 135.460 was a national mark until erased by Atlas in the Heat 2A.

"I had intended to settle for second but was annoyed by Hanauer's driving. Once I was leading I couldn't just let him pass me," Kropfeld said of his change in strategy.

Hanauer, in turn, was nettled by the driving of his rival. "He squeezed me in the first heat. There's supposed to be 10 feet clearance when you pass and he didn't give me 10 inches. It's no big thing, but I wish he would be more gentlemanly."

The Budweiser was able to salvage something on the day by adding to its lead over second place The Squire Shop in the national high point standings. The Bud earned 1,100 points and now has 5,700 points. However, The Squire, which trailed by only 431 points to start the day, picked up only 625 points and is second with 4,794, 906 points off the pace.

The Atlas, due largely to missing the first two races of the season, is far back with 2,900 points.

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