The thing about the Gold Cup, as it is with virtually every other sporting event, there's only one winner - and lots of losers.
Pay 'N Pak, combining the driving skill of George Henley and the reliability of crew chief Jim Lucero's mechanical crew, won its second straight Gold Cup Sunday afternoon by an overwhelming margin.
Not only did the Pak win its third consecutive victory of the season it leap-frogged past a faltering Weisfield's into first place in the national point standings. The win was worth 1,425 points giving it a total of 5,864 points. Weisfield's could add only a paltry 225 points to its total and now has 5,788 points, 76 behind the new leader.
A crowd estimated at over 40,000 lined the shores of the Columbia River to watch the 67th running of the Gold Cup under cloudless skies with the temperatures reaching 110 degrees.
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Henley, the gentleman from Eatonville who says little and smiles a great deal, simply outclassed the field. He won three heats to build an unsurmountable lead and then coasted to a third place finish in the final heat to clinch the victory.
But in the minds of most of the contending drivers it wasn't so much that Pay 'N Pak won as it was that they lost it.
"I wasn't that impressed with their (Pay 'N Pak's) performance. Except for three mechanical failures I feel I could have won the three heats I was in," a dejected Billy Schumacher, driver of the Weisfield's, lamented after the race.
Other race victims included the Lincoln Thrift, which went dead in the water with an ignition failure with victory almost at hand, the Miss Budweiser which sank to the bottom of the Columbia River and Miss U.S. which won the final heat with a fire aboard for the final four laps.
The war of attrition got started in the very first heat, the one that was supposed to be the lucky draw for Weisfield's. Driven by Schumacher, the Seattle based boat appeared on its way to a routine win and 400 points when it blew a wheelhouse and while attempting to limp home fourth was black flagged thus triggering a controversary with referee Bill Newton.
The carnage continued in heat 1B. Miss Budweiser spun out on turn No. 2 of the first lap, missed a buoy and circled to go back to pick it up. Henley, meanwhile had piloted the Pay 'N Pak to a comfortable lead. After completing four laps Mickey Remund took to the deck of the Budweiser waving that he needed assistance. The boat had a four-foot hole in the sponson and sunk to the bottom of the river before it could be towed to the safety of the pits.
Henley continued his winning ways turning back a challenge in heat 2A by Miss U.S. Weisfield's was washed down going into the second turn and was never able to get into contention and settled for third, its only points of the day.
The story of heat 2B wasn't that Miss Vernors won it, as unusual as that might be, but that the Lincoln Thrift lost it with less than a lap to go when it ran afoul of the aforementioner ignition trouble.
When chance Weisfield's had of salvaging anything on the afternoon went out the window when it conked out on the backstretch of lap three of heat 3A. Pay 'N Pak coasted home ahead of Super Cinders, the only other finisher as Atlas Van Lines and Oh Boy! Oberto both had to drop out.
That gave Pay 'N Pak 1,200 points and to all intents and purposes his second Gold Cup.
The best race of the afternoon was the duel between sister boats, Lincoln Thrift and Miss U.S. in heat 3B. The twin designs of boat designer Ron Jones ran nose to nose for most of the six laps before the Lincoln boat led Miss U.S. across the finish line.
That set the final heat, one as anti-climactic as yesterday's newspaper as Pay 'N Pak wisely settled for third behind Miss U.S. and Lincoln Thrift.
The win by Tommy D'Eath moved Miss U.S. into second place with a total of 1,225 points. Third was Lincoln Thrift with 1,100. Hamm's Bear-Miss Madison was fourth with 863, Super Cinders fifth with 747, Miss Vernor's sixth 696, O' Boy Oberto, seventh 469, Atlas Van Lines, eighth, 300, Weisfield's, ninth, 225, and Sunny Jim Jam, tenth, 95.
Sunday's Gold Cup race also set the stage for a national championship race in Seattle Sunday. It appears that in all likelihood Seafair will be the last race of the season and as a consequence the national title will be on the line in the confrontation between Weisfield's and Pay 'N Pak.