1969 Seafair Trophy Race

‘Bud’ Win Grabs National Point Lead

By Del Danielson

Lake Washington was quiet today. The oil slicks were dissolving, garbage was being picked from the shore, a few slivers from the Wanderer floated near Seward Park.

Seattle’s annual adventure into the carnival-like world of unlimited-hydroplane racing was over.

The Seafair Centennial Trophy was packed away by Bernie Little, owner of Miss Budweiser. And Bill Sterett, driver of the beer wagon that won yesterday’s race, was headed back to his contracting business in Owensboro, Ky.

It was a satisfying win for Little and the Budweiser camp. After winning the season’s first two outings — at Guntersville, Ala., and Owensboro — the Bud encountered troubles and fell to a second at Detroit, a fourth at Madison, Ind., and a sixth at the Tri Cities.

There was no doubt about this one as the Budweiser ripped off three heat victories for a 1,200-point sweep. And the win moved the Tampa, Fla. craft into first place in the national point race.

The point leader going into the race here, Myr’s Special, finally ran out of luck. Dean Chenoweth pushed the Schoenith pickle-fork to a third in Heat 1B, but pulled up lame in 2B and did not finish. Chenoweth was not around for the final heat — the showdown of the top six boats.

The win gave the Bud 5,375 points, 225 ahead of Myr’s. Miss U.S. is third with 4,925. Only one race remains on the 1969 calendar, the Gold Cup in San Diego September 28.

For the first time this year, two boats entered the final heat with 800 points. Budweiser won Heats 1B and 2B, Miss Bardahl won 1A and 2A.

Ole Bardahl’s Checkered Comet was pulled from the barn a little more than a week ago when retirement plans were scrapped.

The final heat shaped up as a Bardahl-Budweiser duel, but Bardahl, with Fred Alter in the cockpit, popped an engine on the first lap. Alter edged ahead of Budweiser in the first turn, but the lead was short-lived.

Alter watched the rest of the race bobbing around in the bottom of the back stretch.

With Bardahl gone, Sterett accepted his lead and never looked back. He finished the finale with an average speed of 105.468 miles an hour and a 45-mile race average of 105.448.

Atlas Van Lines, a much more competitive boat since Jim McCormick took over the controls at the Tri-Cities race, ran second in the final heat and second for the day. McCormick pushed the 12-year-old hull to seconds behind the Bardahl in both 1A and 2A.

The Bardahl camp salvaged a third in the final accounting, despite the washout in the windup.

Heat 1B was supposed to be a prelude to the final heat as four of the five "hot dogs" in the field came up together in the draw.

It was the best race of the day. But there was no doubt about the outcome when three boats — Miss U.S., Myr’s Special and Notre Dame — jumped the gun. That left Budweiser with only Savair’s Mist to beat, and it was no contest.

Savair’s Mist, with Walter Kade aboard, provided the comic relief of the afternoon when it was the only boat to cross the starting line for a consolation race.

Four boats were eligible for the fill-in, but only two made it on the course, and Myr’s Special turned to the pits before the start.

Kade had no one to beat but himself. He was waved off the course after three laps, which made it an "official" race — an easy way to pick up a little cash and 200 points in the national standings.

For such races, the Unlimited Racing Commission allows half value in points.

Eleven boats were in the pits Wednesday when testing began. Wanderer flipped and sank Saturday in a test run and Ron Kasper, its driver, was taken to the hospital with back and foot injuries.

Efforts were to begin today to pull the boat from Lake Washington.

And Bob Gilliam’s Mister P’s spent about five minutes on the course yesterday. Gilliam chugged to the pits before the start of Heat 1A and didn’t show for 2A.


HEAT 1A — Bardahl, 108.564 m.p.h., 400 points; Atlas Van Lines, 102,311 m.p.h., 300 points; Pride of Pay ‘n Pak, 94.076 m.p.h., 225 points; Parco’s O-Ring Miss, 90.240 m.p.h., 169 points; Mister P’s, did not start.

HEAT 1B — Budweiser, 106.007 m.p.h., 400 points; Miss U. S., 89.700 m.p.h., 300 points; Myr’s Special, 86.984 m.p.h. 225 points; Notre Dame, 83.359 m, p. h, 169 points; Savair’s Mist, did not finish (Budweiser and Savair’s Mist were only legal starters. Others jumped the gun.)

HEAT 2A — Bardahl, 106.973 m.p.h., 400 points; Atlas, 101.389 m.p.h., 300 points; Savair’s Mist, 95.070 m.p.h., 225 points; Parco, 89.108 m.p.h., 169 points; Pay ‘n Pak, 75.376 m, p. h., 127 points.

HEAT 2B — Budweiser, 104.691 m.p.h., 400 points; Notre Dame, 102.389 m.p.h., 300 points; Miss U. S., 94.637 m.p.h.. 225 points; Myr’s Special did not finish; Mister P’s, did not start.

CONSOLATION — Savair’s Mist, 98.182 m.p.h., 200 points (count toward national ranking, not this race). No other boats started.

FINAL HEAT — Budweiser, 105.468 m.p.h., 400 points; Atlas, 103.480 m.p.h., 300 points; Miss U. S., 101.886 m. p. h„ 225 points; Notre Dame, 99.889 m.p.h., 169 points; Pay ‘n Pak, did not finish; Bardahl, did not finish.

FASTEST LAP OF DAY — Miss Bardahl, 113.924 m.p.h.

FINAL STANDINGS — Budweiser, 1,200 points ($8,500); Atlas, 900 ($4,7501; Bardahl, 800 ($3.100); Miss U. S., 750 (52.500); Notre Dame, 638 ($2,550); Pay ‘n Pak, 352 ($1,500); Parco, 338 ($1,150): Savair’s Mist, 225 ($1,025); Myr’s Special, 225 (5975); Mister P’s did not score.

 

(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 4, 1969)