The Columbia Cup fare supposedly called for vintage brew to be followed by five chasers, but at the last second Chip Hanauer decided that wasn't the role for him.
With less than a quarter of a lap to go, Hanauer drove the Squire Shop past the Miss Budweiser to score an upset victory in the Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane race Sunday.
Hanauer's victory margin of less than four-tenths of a second over Dean Chenoweth, the defending national champion, provided one of the most dramatic finishes in 16 years of unlimited hydroplane racing on the Columbia River.
More than 40,000 fans lined the banks of the Columbia River as Hanauer, 26, scored his third career victory. The other two wins were in Utah.
The lead in the last lap of the final championship heat changed hands three times before The Squire Shop took the checkered flag for its first victory of the season.
Front running Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines led the Budweiser by 16 seconds going into the last lap with the Squire Shop third. However, the Atlas broke down and it appeared the Budweiser had its fourth win of the season sewed up.
"I had given up on catching Muncey, but though I might be able to reel in the Budweiser," Hanauer said after the race. "I sort of hid in his roostertail and snuck up on him. Coming out of the last turn, I cut inside and was able to get past him."
The Squire Shop's winning speed of 120.968 just missed the Columbia Cup and world record for a 37 1/2-mile race of 121.011 m.p.h. set by Muncey in 1979.
Second place Budweiser averaged 120.577 m.p.h. Milner Irvin in the Frank Kenney Toyota was third and Scot Pierce in the Oh Boy Oberto finished fourth. Muncey was able to revive the Atlas and limp home fifth. Bob Maschmedt in the Tempus rounded out the championship final.
Contributing to the Squire Shop's upset victory was an accident to Chenoweth during the final minute before the running start. Wake from the Squire Shop ripped a two-foot gap in the Budweiser's windshield and also shattered the face shield in Chenoweth's helmet.
"I had to run about half throttle after that because the wind was about to tear my head off," said Chenoweth, "I couldn't see at all." He had minor facial cuts and a split lip.
It was similar to the accident that put driver Milner Irvin in the hospital for two weeks in Seattle in 1976.
Muncey, seeking his third straight Columbia Cup victory, got the Atlas Van Lines off to a flying start. His speed for the first lap, 133.370 m.p.h. tied his own world and course record for a 2 1/2-mile lap.
"I told my crew before the race, Hey I'm going for it. We may jump the gun, but if we make it and we're smoking we can all be heroes. It was like last year. I couldn't believe the start and thought we might be able to lay one on them," said Muncey, 52, the winningest driver in the sport.
The cause of the Atlas' engine failure wasn't determined. It was first thought to be the supercharger but wasn't confirmed.
Brenda Jones, 23, the first woman unlimited driver in the modern era finished fifth in a preliminary heat but failed to qualify for the championship final. However, by finishing a heat she qualified for the Gold Cup to be run in Seattle on Aug. 9.
There were very few surprises in the preliminary heats.
After a second place finish in Heat 1B the Thousand Trails of the Tri-Cities driven by Jack Schafer, Jr., experienced trouble with its nitrous oxide system and went dead in the water.
The turbine-powered Pay 'N Pak didn't fare much but provided its many fans a brief thrill when it led the Miss Budweiser most of the first lap of Heat 2A. However, after the Budweiser had gained the lead coming out of the second turn its wake washed down the Pay 'N Pak causing its engine to stop. Driver John Walters was able to restart the boat after a brief delay and limp back to the pits.
Another Columbia Cup record was set when Captran Resorts became the 16th boat to qualify for the race Sunday morning. After working most of the night Captran turned in a speed of 103.500 m.p.h.
Despite the setback the Miss Budweiser still holds a commanding lead in the national point standings. With the 1,100 points from Sunday's race the Budweiser now has 4,400 points. Frank Kenney, Toyota-Miss Madison is second with 4,175, Atlas is third with 3,827. Completing the top five are Oh Boy Oberto, 3,395, and the Squire Shop, 2,300.
The Squire Shop earned $11,050 for first place plus an additional $5,000 for qualifying and completing two heats. The total purse was $69,500 with $32,500 going to the six boats in the championship final.