1975 Seafair Trophy
Schumacher Tops Qualifiers
By Chuck Ashmun
Billy Schumacher, trying harder now that his boat is No. 2, today took over the qualifying lead for Sunday’s Seafair trophy race on Lake Washington.
Schumacher steered his unlimited hydroplane, Weisfield’s, to a speed of 122.615 miles an hour.
The clocking barely beat George Henley’s run around the 2½-mile course of 122.116 m.p.h., logged earlier today.
Henley, whose Pay ‘n Pak now holds a slim lead over Schumacher’s Weisfield’s in national point standings, said:
"We’re getting there. It just took some minor changes, shifting weight."
New qualifiers today, in addition to the Weisfield’s, were the Miss Budweiser, driven by Mickey Remund, at 121.786, and Atlas Van Lines, with Bill Muncey behind the wheel, at 111.801.
Tom d’Eath, Miss U.S. pilot, improved from a clocking yesterday of 107.142 to 118.577 today.
D’Eath was told yesterday he had toppled three records.
The marks that fell, however, had nothing to do with the new Seafair Trophy Race course.
Statisticians searching through American Power Boat Association files discovered that D’Eath and his Detroit-based boat set course, Gold Cup and national marks last weekend in the Tri-Cities’ unlimited regatta.
Ironically, D’Eath did not win that boat show. George Henley steered the Pay ‘n Pak to the championship. but D’Eath got his marks by averaging 108.974 m.p.h. for the 60-mile test.
The previous course, Gold Cup and national marks for 110 miles on a 2½-mile layout were 107.902 m.p.h., established by Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines.
And the winner of that Gold Cup battle two years ago in the Tri-Cities was not Bill Muncey. Dean Chenoweth captured the Cup, steering Miss Budweiser.
The Miss U.S. was one of five boats which qualified yesterday for Sunday’s race. Pay ‘n Pak, new leader in national standings, led the way. Other qualifiers were Lincoln Thrift, Hamm’s Bear and Vernors.
George Henley put the Pak on top of the opening-day list with a lap at 121.130 miles an hour. Lincoln Thrift was next at 113.493 m.p.h., Jerry Bangs handled Hamm’s Bear at 109.090 m.p.h., and Bob Miller qualified Vernors at 104.287.
One lap at a minimum speed of 100 m.p.h. is required for qualifying.
The Shakey’s Special and Miss Van’s P-X, formerly Super Cinders II, both took trips around the oval; but neither was able to get in a lap above 97 m.p.h.
Peter LaRock, Shakey’s Special owner, blamed engine problems. Jack Schafer, a new driver in the Van’s P-X was out for testing and was not attempting to qualify.
The U-80 has raced with a Van’s P-X label before. In the Tri-Cities, the hull carried only the unlimited number and was piloted by Ron Armstrong.
Henley said he had difficulty setting up for the 2,000-foot turns in the Pay ‘n Pak. He made a half-dozen journeys onto the course, almost as many as the Pak ran during opening-day testing in the Tri-Cities.
The turns were the talk of the day yesterday. Some drivers complained that the shorter straightaway, necessitated by the longer turns, would create relatively slow speeds on race day.
All said they needed more time on the water to adjust from the 1,200-foot turns in the Tri-Cities to the longer variety here.
"You might think that a course like this would give us an advantage, but our boat is riding so light we’ll have a bit of a problem with these turns," said Milner Irvin, Lincoln Thrift pilot.
"It probably would be an advantage if the boat were handling like it should be, but we’ve been having trouble with the sweeping turns all year long.
"I kind of think Tommy will have trouble, too."
Irvin’s comments conflicted with ‘those of race observers who predict D’Eath and the Thrift driver will be right at home on the new course.
The Miss Budweiser made its long-awaited arrival in the pits late this morning.
Crewmen have worked since last Sunday repairing sponson damage which caused the Bud to sink during the Gold Cup race.
Roostertales: Jerry Bangs, usually one of the last drivers to make a qualifying attempt, had the Hamm’s Bear in the water first yesterday, explaining: "About all we had to do after we got here from Pasco was wash the windshield" Tom D’Eath, who fumed about firefighting help here last year after the Miss U.S. burned, not plenty of attention from a race official yesterday who was jotting notes about fire-suppression equipment aboard the boat . The button and photo mini-trading posts are back again, and business is brisk among the souvenir fanciers.
A recount of the boats in the pits shows there are 16 on hand, but only 14 are capable of racing. The Miss Thriftway [??--LF] and Lauterbach Special are there for display only, the latter having been beached by assurances it will not receive a new gearbox in time to race here. Most-asked question yesterday was: "Where’s the Weisfield’s?" Les Rosenberg, owner, and Billy Schumacher, driver, were among those doing the asking. It seems the boat manager, Jerry Zuvich, kept the craft at the shop longer then expected after discovering a crack in a propeller shaft.
Another often-asked query concerns the difference between a supercharger and a turbocharger. In layman’s terms, a supercharged hydro uses fuel force-fed into its engine by mechanical means; a turbocharger forces fuel into the engine by utilizing scavenged exhaust pressures Schumacher, asked if he would qualify faster than George Henley, put it this way: "After watching what he did today, I would say if we didn’t go faster, we would have problems.
A yellowing newspaper clipping, attached to a door of the Lincoln Thrift truck, has underlined sentences pertaining to covering an engine. Someone didn’t during a downpour at Dayton, and the boat missed the next heat with a D.N.S. The Hamm’s Bear crew chief, Dave Stewart, missed his boat’s qualifying run yesterday, remaining in Madison, Ind., on other business. We called him and told him we didn’t need him, but actually we’ll be as nervous as heck until he gets here" said Bangs.
What does the Pay ‘n Pak crew test so hustle? "Everything," said Jim Lucero. "Propellers, skid fins, gear ratios, maybe a sponson . . . sometimes it might simply be realigning the weight".
Bernie Little, Miss Budweiser owner, took time out from his criticism about closing the course to qualifying tomorrow long enough to report that he may buy his next boat from a Tacoma builder, Norm Berg, who recently has been turning out some swift inboards . . .
That on-again, off-again San Diego race may be on again, says Bill Muncey, Atlas Van Lines driver, who went south in search of a race earlier this week.
Guided tours of the Stan Sayres pits will be offered tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $1. Tickets will be available at the pit area.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 1, 1975)