Editor’s note: There are four days until the APBA HAPO Gold Cup Heat 1A race takes place on the Columbia River. At the same time, the Tri-City Water Follies’ annual event is celebrating its 50th year of racing unlimited hydroplanes. So the Herald will take a look at past stories leading up to the Gold Cup. These are in no particular order:
July 26, 1987: Party time goes overboard.
This was the last straw.
Early Sunday morning, with a large number of young people in town for the boat races, things got out of hand when too many of them were hanging around and partying in the Court Street area of Pasco.
When police asked them to disperse, they didn’t, and the riot was on.
It was estimated that 3,000 people were on the scene, clogging all four lanes on Court Street.
They broke store windows and threw rocks at the police. Cars were overturned. Numerous arrests were made.
Arby’s, Husky Gas Station, Taco Bell and Copeland Lumber all suffered damage in the melee.
The next year, police had set up a command post off of Court Street and walking patrols kept the order.
It marked the changing of the Tri-Cities from being the gathering place of an all-out party for out-of-towners to a more orderly weekend as law enforcement and residents had had enough.
The Court Street riots the night before the race only confirmed Water Follies officials were on the right track to shut down the lawlessness and lewd conduct going on in the park during the weekend races.
It used to be women took their lives into their hands walking through a gantlet of drunk men. Or at least their dignity, as the men tried to take off women’s bikini tops.
Other women did it willingly. Some people suffered from alcohol poisoning.
Enough was enough.
New security was brought in, and fans were no longer allowed to bring their own alcohol into the park. Beer gardens were set up, as the plan was for families to take back the park.
It took awhile, as ticket sales dropped over the next few years.
But slowly, the attendance numbers began going back up as more families came back to the races.
The partying was controlled.
As for the race, Jim Kropfeld in the Miss Budweiser held off Chip Hanauer in the Miller American for the victory.
Kropfeld, who set a record in qualifying with a speed of 155.172 mph, was in lane 2 for the final heat going into the first turn.
Hanauer, in lane 1, felt he got pinched into the buoy on the turn. But race officials didn’t see it that way, making Hanauer livid.
“I’m disappointed in the way Jim drove today,” Hanauer told the Herald. “Jim left me very little room in the corner. It was a dangerous situation. I had a choice of either hitting the buoy or going up in his roostertail. I went up in the air and I’m just lucky I came down on the right side.”
Kropfeld, informed of Hanauer’s comments, didn’t agree.
“I’ll have to talk to the referees, but I thought it was my race course all the way around and that there was enough room for Chip. I have no idea if it was my fault. If it was, I’m sure they would have disqualified me. I’ve been disqualified before.”
It ended up being Bud owner Bernie Little’s first victory on the Columbia River since 1978.
And it stopped Hanauer’s Columbia River win streak at three.