1967 Indiana Governor's Cup

At Madison: The Governor's Cup

There was just enough wind to ruffle the waters of the Ohio River and provide nearly ideal racing conditions for the thunderboats around the 2½ mile course of the Governor's Cup race at Madison, Ind., on July 9. Ole Bardahl's Miss Bardahl from Seattle, driven by 24-year-old Billy Schumacher, emerged the winner with 1,100 points.

Going into the final heat Miss Bardahl was tied at 700 points with Detroiter Jim Herrington's Fifi Lapeer [Miss Lapeer] with Warner Gardner, retired Air Force colonel, as her driver. When the starting gun fired for that deciding heat, Fifi Lapeer was drifting down the Ohio River, out with magneto difficulty. The finale quickly settled into a duel between Bardahl and Harrah's Club, with the veteran Chuck Hickling driving Bill Harrah's Reno, Nev., entry. Miss Bardahl accelerated faster out of the turns and got away from Harrah's Club during the third circuit of the six-lap race to win at 94.736 m.p.h. Harrah's Club finished second to place second in point standing for the Cup, with 925.' Jim Ranger's My Gypsy, of Detroit, was third over the line and placed third overall, with 794 points. Bob Fendler's Wayfarers Club Lady, with Jim McCormick at the wheel, finished fourth with a score of 769.

Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser (ex-Shu-Shu and ex-Notre Dame) won the first heat as Mike Thomas, of Harvey Cedars, N.J., driving his first unlimited, had the Tampa entry inside right with the gun and stayed in front to win at 94.405 m.p.h. Thomas who drives the 7-liter Dodge Rebellion (ex-Miss Crazy Thing) replaced Roy Duby who had driven Budweiser a week earlier in the World Championship at Detroit.

The triumph of Miss U.S. in the next heat was a typical Bill Muncey effort. He was over first and stayed there to win at 100.727 m.p.h., the highest heat speed of the day. Miss Bardahl was kept at a safe distance by Miss U.S. Once, just as she finished the first lap, U.S. went "out of shape" but Muncey brought her down safely. Lapeer had a good tussle with Wayfarers Club throughout the 15 miles of heat 1-C as Jim McCormick took the lead several times. Fifi Lapeer's speed of 100.148 compared with Wayfarers 99.630 in this close battle.

Fife Lapeer got off badly as the second round of heats started and took second in 2-A to My Gypsy. Walter Kade, 63, with Savair's Mist, second to Miss Bud in the first heat, took third with Mike Wolfbauer's Detroit boat. Miss Bardahl won going away from Wayfarers Club in heat 2-B as Miss U.S. failed to get going and Miss Bud broke down. Miss U.S. was bothered by fuel pump trouble and burned out six in two days at Madison. Miss Madison, with Ed O'Halloran up and Savair's Probe, Wolfbauer's second boat with Bob Miller driving, broke down in the final elimination. Bill Sterett’s Miss Chrysler Crew was buzzing along leading Harrah's Club into the fifth lap when she threw a belt off one of her blowers and finished with only one of her twin motors functioning. Harrah's Club won at 76.476 as Chrysler Crew limped in. Earlier, in the heat Miss U.S. won, Chrysler Crew stove a hole as big as a loaf of bread in her hull alongside the driver's seat during one of the late laps. Crew finished third and Sterett brought the boat into the race pits in time to keep her afloat.

The most spectacular incident came in the re-start of heat 2-A. This re-run came after the first was halted when a Coast Guardsman was injured and taken ashore in a patrol boat. Referee Bill Newton deemed the patrol boat's wash dangerous and ordered up red flags and smoke. In the restart, Kade brought Savair's Mist out of the first turn ahead, then spun all the way 'round. Kade recovered, but it was close. The boats behind him were bunched and were just short of accelerating into the straightaway.

Shirley McDonald gave the driver's seat in Notre Dame, a new boat this year, to Jack Regas. The latter cracked up Miss Bardahl in 1959 and was in a coma for five months. He was pronounced physically okay at Madison for his first unlimited race since his accident. McCormick, who lives in Owensboro, Ky., came to Madison to drive Notre Dame but found himself supplanted. Bob Fendler immediately offered him the seat in Wayfarers Club Lady. "Jim got a raw deal, not being notified that he was fired before he came here," said Fendler. It worked out all right. Fendler was recently married and his wife wanted him to stay on the beach. McCormick said that he thought he had vindicated himself. He beat Notre Dame in one heat and put Wayfarer into the final.

—George E. Van

(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1967, pp.208-209)