1979 Squire Seafair Trophy
When Will Atlas Hammerlock Be Broken
Muncey to Go For 7th U.S. Title Today
By Craig Smith, Times Staff Reporter
How long can it go on? How long can Bill Muncey in the Atlas Van Lines continue his hammerlock on the sport of unlimited-hydroplane racing?
Muncey will try to extend his winning streak to nine races today in the Seafair Race on Lake Washington. The winning streak started here one year ago. He went on to win last September’s race in San Diego and has seen nothing but checkered flags in six title heats this season.
All Muncey needs today is 475 points (a second and a third in preliminary heats will do) to clinch his seventh national unlimited title.
"It’s funny, every week. everyone is shooting at you," Muncey said after his victory last Sunday in Pasco. "Now you just have to go prove, it again that the Atlas Van Lines is a superb racing mechanism."
Jim Lucero, Muncey’s highly respected crew chief, said, "You can win every race on the circuit and if you lose in Seattle, everybody thinks you’re a loser."
The Atlas presently is racing against the best competition in years. Last week in Pasco, four boats, including Atlas, broke the previous world record of 124.481 miles an hour for a 2½-mile lap. Speeds are expected to be slower today because the course is 2 miles.
Muncey’s toughest challengers today are the new Miss Budweiser, driven by Dean Chenoweth, and Miss Circus Circus, driven by Steve Reynolds. Chip Hanauer in The Squire Shop, the other record breaker, is given an outside chance of ending Muncey’s streak.
All four of the top boats are based in Seattle. For the second straight year, there are no Detroit boats in the race. Circus and Atlas have been at every race. This will be Budweiser’s fourth race and the third for The Squire Shop.
The 11 other boats in the fleet are not expected to pose any serious challenge. In 29 years of racing on Lake Washington there has been only one real upset — 1966, when Jim Ranger drove My Gypsy to victory.
Today’s race marks the first time an admission fee has been charged for a race on the course south of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge. Tickets are $3, with children under 12 admitted free. A state law was changed in the past legislative session to allow the admission charge. The money will be used to defray race expenses and bid for next year’s Gold Cup.
Muncey, who will be after his 57th career win today, could be on his way to doing what no one in the history of the sport has done — win every race in a season. There are races next month in Ogden, Utah, and San Diego.
Muncey won six of seven races last year and in 1962 he won five of six in Miss Century 21. Bill Cantrell drove My Sweetie to victory in seven of eight races in 1949.
Muncey has won seven races here, including the past two. Chenoweth is the only other previous Seattle winner in the field, having won the 1970 race in an earlier Miss Budweiser.
Today’s first preliminary heat begins at noon. The six boats with the most points in preliminary heats will race at 4:1 0 p.m. in the winner-take-all championship heat.
Three ticket booths will be open today. One of the main booths will be just north of the Stan Sayres Pits on Lake Washington Boulevard. The other main booth will be on the north end of the course, near the Mount Baker bathing beach. The third booth, on Horton Drive, is intended primarily for Mount Baker-area residents. The booths will open at 6 a.m.
Parking, as always will be a problem. There is room for 1,000 cars in a lot south of Genesee Street between 42nd and 46th Avenues. The lot will fill up fast and most hydro fans should plan on doing a lot of walking.
Metro is planning three types of special service today:
- Special buses marked "hydro race" will leave Third and Pike every 15 minutes from 8:40 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. They will travel via Rainier Avenue to the intersection of Lakeside and Massachusetts, which is south of the Lake Washington Floating Bridge.
- Buses on. Route No. 14 will depart every 15 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. from Third and Union and travel to the intersection of Lakewood and Horton.
- Shuttles marked "Genesee Extra" will provide service as needed from Rainier Avenue and Genesee to 49th Avenue South and Lake Washington Boulevard.
(Reprinted from The Seattle Times, August 5, 1979)