Editor’s note: There are three days until the APBA HAPO Gold Cup takes place on the Columbia River. At the same time, the Tri-City Water Follies 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. Here’s No. 47:
July 29, 1979: Muncey dominates in Atlas.
Bill Muncey showed race fans why he was so dominant during this time period, winning his eighth consecutive race in the Atlas Van Lines over a two-year period.
But this one wasn’t easy at the end, as Dean Chenoweth in the Miss Budweiser led the first two laps of the final heat.
Miss Budweiser, driven by Dean Chenoweth, was leading the Atlas Van Lines by five boat lengths when a stripped gear in its supercharger put the boat out of the race.
“It was your race if you hadn’t broke,” Muncey told Chenoweth after the race.
Muncey then coasted to victory.
Second place went to Chip Hanauer in the Squire Shop which averaged 113.122 m.p.h.
With the victory Muncey became the first unlimited driver to ever score eight consecutive victories. His string included the last two races in 1978.
Ironically, the last race he lost was the Columbia Cup the previous year.
Muncey had won the first six in 1979 and had 56 career victories. He would win the next week at Seafair and became the national high-points champion.
About the only thing that wen wrong for Muncey on Columbia Cup weekend was him getting a citation from the local Coast Guard in the Tri-Cities. Taking his personal watercraft out on the river for selected media and contest winners, he was cited for not having enough flotation devices.
This race was memorable for historian Fred Farley, who remembers the Budweiser in an earlier heat sponson walking all the way down the Franklin County side of the river.
“I’ve been to over 200 races. I’d never seen that before and I haven’t seen it since,” he said back in 2005.