July 29, 1985: Hanauer steals show with 3 world marks

July 24, 2008 

Chip Hanauer has emerged from the shadow of legendary unlimited hydroplane driver Bill Muncey.

Hanauer basked in the sunshine on the Columbia River again Sunday after he piloted the Miller American to victories in both his heats before winning the Columbia Cup at a average lap speed of 131.259 m.p.h.

Along the way, Hanauer set three world records:

-- The fastest competition lap, 143.198 m.p.h., set in the finals. It broke Steve Reynolds' short-lived record of 137.931 set in heat 1A.

-- The fastest average speed, 129.732, over a 37 1/2 mile race over a 2 1/2-mile course.

-- The fastest qualifying lap speed of 153.061 m.p.h., set on Saturday.

"Before, when I was with the Atlas (Miller Brewing took over sponsorship this year), I always felt like I was trying to hold up Bill's end in his absence (Muncey was killed when his boat flipped in a crash in Acapolco, Mexico, in 1981)," said Hanauer.

"Now I feel like this is my sponsor and I'm trying to build a legacy for Miller American like Bill did with Atlas."

For Hanauer, it was a glorious day that very nearly did not get started. Hanauer couldn't get the Miller American turbine ignited for Heat 1B until 15 seconds before he would have been disqualified.

"I felt lower than a snake in snowshoes," Miller American crew chief Jim Lucero said. "We really didn't know what to do when the boat wouldn't start. It's something we almost take for granted. We tried everything. I don't know why it finally started. Usually it starts like my Buick."

"It was frustrating," Hanauer agreed. "It was like trying to start a campfire with wet wood and newspaper."

Once the Miller American got started, it was untouchable - although the Squire Shop stayed with the turbine-powered boat for three laps of spectacular racing in Heat 1B.

The heat started with national points leader Executone, Squire Shop/Brittania and Miller American within a boat length. Executone dropped off after one lap, but Squire Shop and Miller were deadlocked heading into the final lap before Miller pulled away to win.

"We put on a good boat race," Hanauer said. "It's always fun to do that. We put on a good show. I wanted to go only as fast as I had to win."

Tom D'Eath, driving the Squire Shop in its first race of the season, also enjoyed the competition. "I don't mind rubbing fenders. We had a real good start and stayed with them. I ran out of nitrous oxide at the end."

Steve Reynolds in the 7-Eleven started the day by breaking the competitive lap speed record at 137.931 m.p.h. in winning heat 1A.

But Reynolds, who had been a model of consistency in completing 10 straight heats, had nothing but problems after that.

He lasted less than a lap against the Miller in Heat 2B and could not complete the second lap in the final.

Both times a two-inch piece of steel that runs between the propellor and the engine snapped.

"That's the weak link for us at these speeds," Reynolds said. "It was the rudder for the Miller American until today."

With Reynolds out of the race, there were no boats that could stay with Miller American. Squire Shop finished second nearly a half a lap back, while Cellular One was third. Along with Miss 7-Eleven, Oh Boy! Oberto and Miss Budweiser all failed to finish.

Miss Executone, with only a second place in heat 2A, picked up 300 points to remain in the lead in the national point standings. Executone now has 4,119 points, while Miller American and Miss 7-Eleven are tied for second at 3,900.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service