1970 Atomic Cup
Bud Spectacular At Tri-Cities Dents Chenoweth And Hydro Alike
The year 1970 wasn't the Year of the Budweiser in the Atomic Cup unlimited hydroplane race at Tri-Cities, Washington.
Miss Budweiser, a highly popular boat in the Tri-Cities, came to town No. 2 in national point standings, winner in two of the five races on the Eastern swing of the unlimited tour and a definite favorite.
But on race day, disaster struck the Bud and her first-year driver Dean Chenoweth.
The Bud, which had been performing almost flawlessly during test runs early in the week, ran into near tragedy during the running of Heat 1-C early in the afternoon.
Chenoweth was going into the east turn during the first section of the race when the accident occurred. He turned too sharply around the down-river buoys and the boat spun wildly in the water, catapulting Chenoweth into the air and then sank to the bottom of the Columbia River.
Fortunately, Chenoweth suffered only a few minor bruises. But the damage was such to the boat that the chances for another national championship went with it.
It is believed that the backup waves bouncing off the river's shoreline, was the cause of the accident. The right sponson became submerged on the turn, sending the left side of the boat and the propeller into the air. When the prop again hit the water after spinning wildly at 10,000 revolutions per minute, the boat lurched forward and sank.
The right sponson and forward part of the hull and deck were completely destroyed; the prop was twisted like a rubber band; the rear of the boat was splintered; and, most critically, the electrical system was ruined.
The accident by Chenoweth and the Budweiser was the first in the five-year history of the Atomic Cup race in the Tri-Cities and marked the first time that a race in the southeastern Wash-
However, the Columbia River always hasn't been as cruel to the Miss Budweiser.
With the late Bill Brow in the cockpit, Miss Budweiser captured the first unlimited race ever held in the Tri-Cities by winning the initial Atomic Cup race in 1966 before a crowd of 55,000.
That victory also marked the first championship for owner Bernie Little, who at that time had been in the unlimited racing business for only four years, had competed in 29 heats and never had been able to pick up all the marbles.
The 1966 Atomic Cup triumph ushered in a wave of firstplace finishes for the Budweiser camp since.
It's ironic that only a year ago, it was Chenoweth who was standing on the victory stand with the Atomic Cup as he piloted the Myr's Special to the Tri-City title in 1969.
But the heartbreaks and triumphs of 1970 now all are things of the past.
The Tri-Cities anxiously is awaiting the return of the big thunderboats on the 1971 unlimited racing campaign. And it's certain that Miss Budweiser again will be a favorite here -- especially a sentimental one.
(Reprinted from Miss Budweiser Press Information Souvenir Magazine 1971)