1966 Season Summary
|1.||June 12||Suncoast Cup||Tampa, Florida|
|2.||June 18-19||Presidents Cup||Washington, D.C.|
|3.||July 3-4||APBA Gold Cup||Detroit, Michigan|
|July 3-4||Horace E. Dodge Memorial||Detroit, Michigan|
|4.||July 17||British Columbia Cup||Kelowna, B.C. Canada|
|5.||July 24||Atomic Cup||Pasco, Washington|
|6.||August 7||Seafair Trophy||Seattle, Washington|
|7.||August 14||Diamond Cup||Coeur D'alene, Idaho|
|8.||September 4||Indiana Governor's Cup||Madison, Indiana|
|9.||September 25||San Diego Cup||San Diego, Calif.|
|10.||October 2||Sacramento Cup||Sacramento, Calif.|
|6/12||Miss U.S. (2)||Dave Seefeldt||Ted Jones||Les Staudacher||Rolls Merlin|
|6/19||Notre Dame (5)||Jim Kerth||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Rolls Merlin|
|7/3||Tahoe Miss (3)||Andy Anderson||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Allison|
|7/17||Tahoe Miss (3)||Andy Anderson||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Allison|
|7/24||Miss Budweiser (4)||George McKernan||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Rolls Merlin|
|8/7||My Gypsy||Graham Heath||Dube-Cantrell||Dube-Cantrell||Allison|
|8/14||Tahoe Miss (3)||Andy Anderson||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Allison|
|9/4||Tahoe Miss (3)||Andy Anderson||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Allison|
|9/25||Miss Budweiser (4)||George McKernan||Les Staudacher||Les Staudacher||Rolls Merlin|
|10/2||Miss Lapeer||Varner Gardner||Ted Jones||Les Staudacher||Rolls Merlin|
|Built||Boat High Points||Total||Team High Points|
|1.||(1964)||Tahoe Miss (3)||8021||(1)|
|3.||(1966)||Miss Budweiser (4)||6146||(2-7640)|
|4.||(1957)||Wayfarers Club Lady||5082||(4)|
|5.||(1962)||$ Bill (2)||4271||(6)|
|9.||(1965)||Miss Dixi Cola||3941||(9)|
|10.||(1960)||Miss Madison (2)||3793||(10)|
|11.||(1966)||Miss Chrysler Crew||3408||(11)|
|13.||(1964)||Notre Dame (5)||1900||(13)|
|14.||(1956)||Miss Budweiser (3)||1494|
|16.||(1964)||Miss U.S. (2)||1269||(14)|
|17.||(1951)||Miss Tri-Cities (2)||1071||(15)|
|20.||(1966)||Miss Bardahl (4)||400||(18)|
|21.||(1963)||Miss Busch Bavarian||394||(19)|
|22.||(1962)||Such Crust IV (3)||352||(20)|
|23.||(1964)||Mariner Too (2)||DNQ|
|Driver High Points||Total|
The Unlimited Racing Commission in the off season decided to go to a 2½ mile course for new races at Tampa, Kelowna, Tri-Cities and Sacramento. Washington, D.C. also went to a 2½ mile course since they wanted to eliminate a rough part of their three mile course. The thought was to make the action at the end of a three mile course not so remote from the fans. Over the course of the sport's history the 2½ mile course was more standard than any other having began its life prior to World War I.
Nevertheless holdover regattas at Seattle, Detroit, Madison, San Diego and Coeur D'Alene stayed with the three mile course. The new races brought the circuit to 10 -- an all time record for paying customers
The new Miss Bardahl planned for 1965 would make its debut in 1966. The previous 1962 Miss Bardahl promised to Bernie Little was retained by Ole Bardahl as insurance in case the new Ron Jones Miss Bardahl did not work out. Little rebounded by purchasing the Miss Exide from the Stoen Brothers getting driver Bill Brow and a crew headed by George McKernan in the bargain.
Tahoe Miss abandoned their turbo charging for 1966 after a horrendous fire with the system in the last race of 1965 at San Diego. They also-replaced their driver Chuck Thompson with Buddy Byers of Miss Madison, who was one of the great limited drivers of all time. Unfortunately Byers injured his arm at the Orange Bowl Regatta in mid winter at Miami. As a result Mira Slovak came out of a two year retirement to pilot the Bill Harrah entry.
Bill Muncey after being uncoupled from Notre Dame was not able to find a ride until Miss U.S. 5 [1965 name] became available at the end of the 1965 season at San Diego. The Miss U.S. [1966 name] should have won at Guntersville and posted the fastest all time lap in qualifying for the World Championship on Lake Tahoe before Muncey took over. After a mechanical disaster at San Diego, Muncey brought the U.S. to Seattle, assembled part of his old crew, and modified the hull once again to make it an easier ride.
Notre Dame returned in 1966 with a better handling hull and a new resolve to win. Smirnoff had riding characteristics to improve upon and Miss Lapeer replaced Mariner Too as Jim Herrington's entry.
A record 18 boats for a non-Gold Cup event showed up at Tampa to start the season. Unfortunately a hurricane interrupted qualifying and only six boats made the grade even at the reduced speed of 90 m p.h. As a result 10 entries that had qualified in 1965 were allowed in the race. Loaner (ex-Breathless II) and Miss Liberty could not make it under either standard.
Bill Muncey showed he had not lost his touch and gave owner George Simon his first victory in eight years. Muncey prevailed by winning two preliminary heats with easy draws and then taking a second in the final to Notre Dame who was down in elapsed time. Notre Dame had been defeated by Smirnoff in heat 2-B which ultimately lost her the regatta.
Miss Budweiser driver Bill Brow hurt his shoulder in heat 1-C causing the Bernie Little entry to finish fourth. Don Wilson was recruited from a boat on the log boom and he responded by taking heat 2-A, but could not get above third in the final heat where there was keen competition. Smirnoff posted the fastest lap of the regatta when Chuck Thompson replaced Bill Cantrell in the cockpit. Cantrell had burned his hands in heat 1-B placing fourth.
Miss Lapeer did not impress as Mariner Too's replacement.
Tahoe Miss driven by Mira Slovak, who needed to complete heats to be eligible to participate in the Gold Cup, completed no heats.
Both Smirnoff and Miss U.S. were damaged due to the rough water at Tampa and missed the Presidents Cup. Miss Budweiser was also damaged, but showed up at Washington with new driver Don Wilson.
Miss Budweiser was trounced by the new Miss Bardahl in heat 1-C of the Presidents Regatta. Notre Dame won an easy 1-B. A conservatively driven Tahoe Miss took second behind the twin auto powered Miss Chrysler Crew in heat 1-A.
Miss Budweiser defeated Tahoe Miss in heat 2-A. Then 2-B brought Miss Bardahl and Notre Dame to the water.
Unlike Miss Budweiser, Notre Dame stayed with Miss Bardahl in heat 2-B until the latter nosed in killing driver Ron Musson.
In the re-run Notre Dame took first to lead Miss Budweiser into the final 800 points to 700. Due to elapsed time the winner of the final would win the Presidents Cup
Miss Budweiser got the inside at the start of the final heat with Notre Dame in lane two. Up the backstretch Miss Budweiser and Notre Dame raced until approaching the second turn Notre Dame became airborne and crashed into Miss Budweiser. Both drivers Don Wilson and Rex Manchester were killed around 7:30 p.m. three hours after Bardahl's Ron Musson.
It was the worst day in Unlimited-Gold Cup racing history. Individuals had been killed before starting in 1906 and in fact two men had gone to their graves in the 1951 Gold Cup at Seattle, but they were riding in the same boat. Cabovers were blamed for the Ron Musson incident since a similar accident in the non-cabover Miss Exide in 1963 produced a survivor in Mira Slovak.
Perhaps Notre Dame driver Rex Manchester,used to a three mile course,pulled his foot off the throttle too quick in setting up for the turn on a 2½ mile course. One writer suggested that all boats were being driven too fast for the conditions due to the pressure of commercial sponsorships, but Manchester did not have a commercial sponsor and Bardahl driver Ron Musson had just won three consecutive National High Point and Gold Cup championships. Or maybe as Mira Slovak suggested, the Unlimiteds just ran out of luck after tempting the fates for many years since the previous fatalities in 1951.
A reduced field of 17 boats showed up for the Gold Cup at Detroit. Miss U.S., Smirnoff and a liberated Tahoe Miss represented the top teams. Miss Budweiser had a new hull from Les Staudacher, but Miss Bardahl and Notre Dame had retired from the circuit.
Tahoe Miss took on Miss U.S. in heat 1-A and prevailed when the latter sustained hull damage to the extent that she was out for the day. Wild riding Smirnoff had an easy time of it in 1-B. After taking their sections of heat two, Smirnoff and Tahoe Miss would meet in heat 3-A.
In the initial running of 3-A Smirnoff had the lead with Tahoe Miss dead in the water, but then Miss Chrysler Crew erupted in flames with driver Bill Sterret going in the water halting the heat. Tahoe Miss had another chance at Smirnoff. The Joe Schoenith entry proved to have the fastest lap of the regatta by 6 m.p.h. at 110 m.p.h.
Smirnoff on the inside and Tahoe Miss outside started heat 3-A once again. As Smirnoff and Tahoe Miss went by the Whittier Hotel, Smirnoff dug in a sponson and capsized. Driver Chuck Thompson was killed making four deaths in two races devastating the Unlimited Racing Community.
The race was postponed until the next day and Tahoe Miss won, but boat racing would never be the same. The luck that had protected the sport in many potentially fatal accidents was gone. Nevertheless the circuit was to continue.
Kelowna, British Columbia was next on the tour with the Tahoe Miss being the only top rated team in attendance with a proven entry. Tahoe Miss won the trophy unimpressively with $ Bill incredibly running the fastest lap of the regatta. Bill Muncey being in the cockpit markedly helped the situation.
Tahoe Miss had the fastest lap by a small margin at the Tri-Cities, Washington, but failed in two heats. This opened the door for the new Miss Budweiser who was not running especially well.
She responded by winning all three of her heats to win the Atomic Cup named for the Hanford Research Center which helped produce the atom bomb in 1945.
Smirnoff was running a replacement hull built in 1965 as a duplicate of her predecessor wrecked at Detroit. Smirnoff matched Tahoe Miss's best lap and placed second. She was driven by Bill Cantrell who returned to the cockpit at 58 having suffered injuries at Madison in 1965 and then at Tampa in 1966.
There were eight boats that were faster than My Gypsy at Seattle's Seafair, but seven of them had difficulties of various sorts allowing the Gypsy driven by rookie Jim Ranger to take the regatta. Miss Dixi Cola had 2 m.p.h. on the My Gypsy, but lost the race as she was defeated by the "Dodge" entry in heat 2-B and never rose above second place for the balance of the contest.
Perhaps feeling her reputation was at stake, Tahoe Miss went out and turned a testing lap of 116.631 m.p.h. at Coeur D'Alene next on the schedule. This was the fastest the U-3 had ever gone outside of a race. However in 1964 she did a competition lap at 117.391 m.p.h. at the Dakota Cup. Her best of 1965 was 110.205 in her winning effort at Madison. She had not come close to this mark in 1966.
However the Tahoe won all three heats at Coeur D'Alene to win the Diamond Cup. This made four complete races in 1966 out of six. In 1965 when she slowed down it was four of eight while in 1964 it was only one in nine without mechanical difficulty. Only the Miss Lapeer was in Tahoe's class in the rough water and she was defeated by the Bill Harrah entry in heat 2-A. The last heat at Coeur D'Alene was squeezed in just before dark as at Kelowna.
In the Madison Regatta Tahoe Miss won again losing to Miss Lapeer in heat 1-B, nevertheless beating her in 2-A and the final to prevail overall. My Gypsy also won a heat, but was third in the last heat.
San Diego provided a fast track for the sub par 1966 fleet to show their worth. Miss Budweiser, still an unstable hull after having a new deck installed, took all three heats running a lap at 112.500 m.p.h.
Miss Lapeer posted the fastest lap of the race and the season at 114.893 m.p.h., but could not live at that speed and did not complete a heat. My Gypsy had 110.091 and beat Tahoe Miss 110.429 in one heat, but was third in the final standings.
The twin auto powered Miss Chrysler Crew (111.340 m.p.h. lap) exchanged heat victories with the winning Miss Budweiser missing the final heat when she jumped the gun in heat 2-C. This bumped her to fourth place after finishing her first five laps in front. Tahoe Miss didn't win a heat, but clinched the National High Point Championship with one event to go.
Miss Lapeer, the replacement for Mariner Too, with only Warner Gardner and a pick up crew took all three heats at Sacramento to win the regatta although being penalized in heat 1-A for jumping the gun. En route to her victory Miss Lapeer beat Miss Budweiser twice in the preliminary heats and then Chrysler Crew in the third heat.
My Gypsy prevailed in her two preliminary heats taking the measure of Miss Chrysler Crew in heat 1-C, but got wet in the final heat which put her out of contention. Miss Chrysler Crew put together three heats without mechanical failure for the first time during the season, nevertheless she was third in the final standings.
Tahoe Miss, like My Gypsy, completed two preliminary heats in first place, but only one lap in second in the third heat before expiring. Miss Budweiser could not get out of second place in her first two heats and missed the final heat.
The record for a 2½ mile course competition lap was set by the 1962 Miss Bardahl at Guntersville in 1963 at 110.3 m.p.h. The new Miss Bardahl although looking impressive in defeating the Exide-Budweiser in her first heat was having trouble with the less speedy in 1965 Notre Dame in heat 2-B. The water was reportedly smooth on the Potomac that day, but the new Bardahl could only manage a lap 102.975 which nevertheless proved to be the fastest at the regatta. The jury was still out as a result on the new Bardahl design.
At the end of the season with the first Smirnoff destroyed there were eight boats within five m.p.h. of each other on a 2k mile course. Miss Lapeer led the parade at 105.634. She was followed by $ Bill 105.386, Miss Budweiser 104.408, My Gypsy 104.167, Miss Chrysler Crew 103.926, Tahoe Miss 102.975, Smirnoff 102.506 and Hilton Hy-Per-Lube 100.671.
The first Smirnoff did 108.434 at Tampa. The other destroyed boats were the aforesaid Miss Bardahl 102.975, Miss Budweiser 101.351, and Notre Dame 100.671. Miss U.S. did a heat at Tampa at 100.934 m.p.h. to Smirnoff's 103.726. Based on Bill Muncey's driving pattern the U.S. should be rated at about 104 m. p. h.
On a three mile course the big eight at the end of the season were again within 5 m.p.h. of each other. As a result of the lap speeds turned in the previous three years, there was no boat that really stood out as a formidable entry for 1967.
[Statistics and comments from Greene, V.2]